The future of all sports relies on the involvement and participation of juniors and ladies. When it comes to the ladies and juniors, there is a misconception about what equipment they should use.
Time after time, I see a junior or lady sportsman try to shoot the wrong equipment for them. The gun rocks back and knocks their arm off. The gun jumps up and slaps them in the face. They start missing targets as a result or, worse, they're afraid to try to shoot any more. Inevitably, they quit shooting. The reason is the equipment they are using is not right for them. You can spend thousands of dollars for a nice gun, which you thought might be right for them, but if you didn't take the time to get it fitted to them or if it's too heavy for them, it simply won't work. The most common mistake I see with a lady or junior is when they try to shoot a 20-gauge gun. Many are very light and too easy to poke around with real control. The recoil is often way too much. Not all 20-gauge guns are the same. Look around for a gun that is the right weight for the person who will shoot it. Do they have a small or light frame? For a small-frame person, they need a light gun. The best choice is a good gas-operated automatic that has been fitted to them and on which barrel work has been done to reduce recoil. For the 20-gauge gun, I don't recommend getting the guns ported. On a small-frame person, they have a tendency not to eject the shell and the action hangs open. I do recommend getting the forcing cones lengthened and the gun back-bored which will help take our much of the recoil.
For the 20-gauge over-and-under you need to get these guns ported. Also lengthen the forcing cones and have it back-bored. Make sure you choose an O/U that is not too light. Remember, the lighter the gun, the more recoil it will have.
A good gun to start with is the 20-gauge Browning Gold Hunter automatic or the 20-gauge Beretta A-390 or the A-391. Have the barrel work done. I really like the Browning 20-gauge O/U the best, but the Beretta 20-gauge Silver Pigeon or the SKB 20-gauge with a good set of Briley custom-fitted chokes, if they can handle the extra weight comfortably, is by far the better choice.
With the 28-gauge or the 410, you will find them a little more expensive to shoot but the rewards are worth it. The 28-gauge gun in an O/U is the king of the mountain. This gun has very light recoil, the best pattern of all the gauges and will break any target or take any game bird just as well as any other gauge gun.
If the shooter has a larger frame and can handle a little more weight, then I suggest you try a good quality, gas-operated 12-gauge gun like the Beretta A-390, A-391 or the Browning Gold Hunter. You will need to have these guns ported, back-bored and forcing cones lengthened to take out most of the recoil. With the Browning Gold Hunter 12-gauge gun, it comes from the factory back-bored, ported or not ported, as you desire, and with the forcing cones lengthened. It is a great off-the-shelf gun to start with. Either the Beretta or the Browning will work great for a lot of years, but do require cleaning more often the over-and-unders. When choosing the right ammunition, choose a shell that has light recoil and a good pattern. A 7/8 oz low powder load works well for 20 gauge. In the 28 gauge, the 7/8 oz loads will work best. For 12 gauge a 1 oz light load or a 7/8 oz load with high velocity is a favorite choice. The lighter load will break any target with a quarter of the recoil and without a doubt is the best choice for ladies and juniors. When trying to get a new shooter started, don't choose targets that are too hard. Keep them easy and work up from there. You must keep it fun. After all, it's for the enjoyment that we shoot to start with.
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