Many new shooters may not quite grasp the concept of length of pull. If you aren’t familiar with long guns, it’s probably not something you’ve spent time worrying about or measuring. A long gun’s length of pull is the distance from the end of the gun up to the middle of the trigger. When looking for the right gun, length of pull is one of the most critical measurements which will determine whether or not the gun will fit you. Here, we’ll take a quick look at how to measure length of pull.
What goes into determining length of pull?
There are a number of factors to consider when measuring a gun’s length of pull. How long is your neck? Are you in shape or do you have fat poofy cheeks? And how big are you overall as a person?
Your personal dimensions must coincide well with those of the gun you hope to use. What is the long gun’s drop at heel and drop at comb? Trapshooters does a really great job in this article of breaking down length of pull measurements.
- Drop at heel refers to how much distance sits in between the butt of the gun and the line of sight.
- Drop at comb refers to the distance that sits between the line of sight and the comb of the stock. In case you aren’t familiar with this, the comb of stock is the part of the gun where you rest your cheek, whether poofy or not.
- One thing to note here: length of pull is not measured by the distance between your elbow and your thumb. My grandpa told me this when I was child, but it has been proven false. So, when someone tells you measuring length of pull is that simple, you can refute the claim!
Why correct length of pull matters
To optimize your shooting skills, having the correct length of pull is important because it allows for comfort and familiarity. Hunting is a sport of patience and repetition. Therefore, having a gun that is well suited to you along with the proper tools for the field will greatly increase your chances of success. Here is exactly why length of pull is important:
- If the length of pull is too short, your line of sight can be impeded. Maybe it’s by the thumb coming into the field of vision during aiming, or maybe the gun just never sits quite right and getting the best aim is impossible.
- When the length of pull is too long, accuracy is directly impacted. Your clothes may shift the aim by moving the butt of the gun. Or the gun may wobble slightly as you zero in because your arm isn’t able to properly situate the equipment.
- Here is a great video on accurately measuring length of pull:
Measuring the length of pull
I always encourage young and new shooters to be professionally fitted to a gun for proper length of pull. That way, nothing is left to chance. They will likely run through several long guns until the perfect one that meets both your personal criteria (including budget) and the correct measurements is identified.
If you do choose to measure it yourself, remember to fit for comfort as much as you are fitting for measurements with a ruler or however you measure at home. It is critically important that the gun fits you – how much fun is doing an activity with improper equipment? Not very much!
It is possible to become comfortable with a gun’s length of pull even if it isn’t perfectly suited to you. This is much easier to do for experienced shooters and those that have spent their lives in the field trying out different long guns in different situations. Practice makes perfect, and experience makes comfort. That is my motto with shooting, and I encourage you to adapt that motto as well. For the newbies, get that gun measured from the middle of the trigger back to the buttstock and don’t settle for anything that doesn’t feel right!
As I’ve said many times before, shooting is all about comfort. Accuracy comes from comfort, and so does a budding passion for a life of hunting. Using a long gun with the correct length of pull measurements will put you on the right track for both of those. Double check the measurements, especially if buying a new gun.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, go ahead and share on your social media channels so that others can learn how to correctly measure length of pull and we can put those old rumors to bed for good. Leave any questions in the comments – we’ll get a discussion going.