Custom-fit rifles boost youth confidence

Although food plots may not be the best place to hunt nocturnal deer in Louisiana, they are almost a sure bet to get a young hunter on a little action. One of those same few deer that step out 15 minutes before dark every evening would make a great target for a kid with a new rifle.

But it would be a shame if your young hunter missed his opportunity or made a bad shot and forevermore recalled wounding a deer. I was involved with tracking a wounded deer that suffered from one of the worst shots I have ever seen.

Finally finding it and dispatching it was tough for the adults involved, much less the kids standing around with much more impressionable minds.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your adult rifles in the gun safe when it comes time to sticking one in your kid’s hand. Like just about any other youth sport, purchasing equipment that fits your child can improve his chances of success.

I recently ordered a Thompson Center Venture .243 for my 9-year-old son to use this deer season. Without thinking much about it, I wound up ordering him an adult-sized rifle that looked a little awkward in his hands.

The Venture was delivered to H&H Gun Shop and Hunting Supply in Franklinton (985-839-7709), which is owned and operated by longtime gunsmith Brent Hoggatt. He immediately noticed that we might want to check its length of pull against my son’s length of pull.

“The quickest way to check length of pull is to get the shooter to place his palm up,” Hoggatt explained. “Then place the butt of the rifle into his elbow.

“The rule of thumb is if the length of pull is right, the trigger will be positioned about half way between the last joint and the tip of his shooting finger.”

Hoggatt went on to say that he had a drop-and-pull gauge, but when he’s used it right beside his rule-of-thumb measurement, they’ve always come out just about the same.

Like a too-long golf club or a too-heavy baseball bat, a rifle that is too long for the shooter can lead to bad habits that might become very difficult to correct in the future.

Hoggatt thought that this particular rifle was about an inch and a half too long for my son. He pulled the recoil pad to see if he might be able to cut down the synthetic stock. After a bit of back-and-forth, we finally settled on just having my son shoot his new Venture without the recoil pad mounted.

“If he’s got a good jacket on, he won’t have to worry about a .243 kicking him too much,” Hoggatt concluded. “Actually if the gun is too long, it’s going to kick him harder.

“With a good fit, the recoil is lessened to a degree. A properly fit gun will also help him get his proper eye relief on his scope.”

About Chris Ginn 778 Articles
Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca along the Bogue Chitto River in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at