Recoil is a nasty byproduct of shooting rifles, but ignoring recoil can cause major problems that are quick to develop and hard to correct. Developing a flinch can ruin your ability to shoot well, so follow these steps to stop this nasty problem before it starts.
LIMIT RANGE TIME
Taking a beating at the range doesn't prove anything. If you are serious about accuracy you need to be sure that you are shooting at your absolute best, and if you are wincing each time the recoil pad touches your battered shoulder it's safe to say you won't be shooting pretty little cloverleaf groups. Take time between shots and groups and make the most of your time at the range.
BORE SIGHT AHEAD OF TIME
By bore sighting your rifle before you arrive at the range you prevent spending a half a box of ammo trying to get on the paper. Laser bore sighters are relatively inexpensive and they cut down on the time, money and punishment you'll have to take when sighting in a new rifle.
HOW MUCH POWER DO YOU NEED?
Do you really need a magnum? If so, you'll have to be prepared to deal with a spike in recoil. Low-recoiling rounds like the .257 Roberts, 7mm-08 Remington and 6.5x55 Swede work well on medium-sized game at moderate ranges.
UNDERSTAND WHAT CAUSES FLINCH
This seems elementary, but it's not just recoil energy that affects the shooter. Perceived recoil is the culmination of a variety of factors including recoil energy, recoil velocity and muzzle blast. If you don't wear hearing protection while shooting the cumulative effects of excessive noise can cause you to flinch in much the same manner as heavy recoil.
DON'T ALWAYS SHOOT FROM A STANDARD BENCH
Don't feel tied to the bench. The use of shooting sticks and stand-up ranges reduce the impact of long shooting sessions. Odds are there won't be any shooting benches in the field anyway.
TAKE A BRAKE
Muzzle brakes are one effective method of recoil reduction; however, brakes increase muzzle blast a great deal. In fact, some outfitters and professional hunt won't hunt with a client who has a muzzle brake on their rifle. Some muzzle brakes like the one on the new Savage Bear Hunter turn off and on with a twist of the wrist, meaning you can use the brake to reduce recoil during practice sessions and turn it off in the field.
LEARN PROPER TECHNIQUE
Make sure that the rifle is seated properly on the medial portion of the shoulder and be sure your face is against the rifle's comb. When a rifle has space to 'jump ' with recoil it creates a more painful jolt. Be offensive. Lean into the rifle slightly to absorb the recoil.
FIND A GUN THAT FITS
My first experience with a .416 resulted in a large gash between the knuckle and first joint of my right index finger. Why? The gun was built for someone much smaller than me and my hand was positioned too far forward. Proper rifle fit helps reduce the effects of recoil, so find a rifle that fits you, have your existing gun fitted or purchase a new recoil pad to adjust length of pull.