Hello Shotgun World,
Long time unregistered lurker first time poster! I wanted to make a post to discuss my wife's entry into shotgunning, give a big plus one to a few manufacturers, and to give a few pointers from lessons we learned along the way. So sit back this is going to be lengthy.
Our road to Shotgunning: I have been very fortunate that since my wife and I have been together that she has been a fan of firearms. Before we had met she had only shot a gun once and was hesitant to get involved in shooting. She started her voyage into shooting with a Glock 19 and mainly hung around the pistol side of the firearms world. Fast forward 10 years and paper/steel was becoming repetitive for us, well more so me than her. Shooting is a large part of my career and teaching others to shoot worked its self into the mix about 6 years ago. Shooting became more of a chore than a hobby and I wanted a shooting sport that was as far removed from the likeness of what I teach that I could enjoy the sport of pulling the trigger again. When I was a boy my father and I shot trap loosely for about two years and I longed to go back to those days of shooting for fun; little did i know my opportunity would come sooner rather than later.
About 4 months ago my father in law asked my new brother in law and I if we would go shoot sporting clays with him as he was considering getting into the sport on a recreational basis. In my role as an instructor I teach the shotgun as a combat/defensive platform mainly at targets that are on the flat range with shot loads restricted to 00 buck and slug, a different animal to say the least. Though I could always carry my weight plus a little with the shotgun I was far more at home with a handgun or a rifle in my hands. And of course following the clays course I had found a new hobby. About two weeks later my father in law had purchased an entry level over and under and invited my wife and I to some family land to play around with some clays from a spring thrower in more of a trap format. It was at this time that my wife showed her first degree of reluctance when it came to a shooting sport. She was mainly worried about her performance on a moving target in the air and her lack of exposure to the shotgun platform.
Knowing that this was going to be the make or break day for her to get into clays I arranged for her Grandfathers 20 Gauge Remington 1100 to be available for the day. This gun is probably as old as both of us combined or pretty close to it, however it comes from an era when guns were made to last and the people that owned them took immaculate care of them so they will literally run forever. After 5 misses to start the day you could see the frustration starting to set in; and then the coaching started, two throws later the concept of leading and trailing was clearly being comprehended as the next 15-20 were clean hits (as in the clay was gone on impact). Deciding to be brave she then moved up to the newly acquired over and under, the performance then began to drop again. The gun was noticeably heavier than the 1100 and the balance of the gun was clearly too far forward for her to accurately handle, quickly back to the 20 gauge we went. Riding home that night I glanced over to notice my wife searching for Remington 1100s chambered in 20 gauge; mission accomplished!
Fast forward about a month and my wife asked if on our way to Gatlinburg (please pray for those folks right now BTW) we could stop at some gun stores along the way to see what particular shotguns felt like. The town I live in is located right next to a large military base so basically all of the stock in gun stores is catered to the tactical market with practically no selection of sporting guns. Though we had been to Academy and Dicks there was just not much in terms of things that blew her skirt up. 300 miles and about 5 stores later we found a Franchi Affinity chambered in 20 gauge at a Bass Pro Shop just outside of Gatlinburg. My wife fell in love with the weight of the gun and the fact that because it was synthetic there would be no broken hearts about it being exposed to the elements and if she still did not like the sport we were not in a shotgun for an arm and a leg....yet
The gun is a nice little shotgun especially for women / entry level shooters being inertia driven and significantly lighter it does hit slightly harder than the 1100 but it is still really no significant recoil.
Several broken clays later the phrase "I want an over/under in 12 gauge" was uttered. I knew this day would come but no where near what I had expected; so back to shotgun world I went looking for answers. Now this is the part where I will tell you I am a FIRM believer in the phrases "you get what you pay for" and "buy right cry once." I will also tell you that in my time as an instructor one thing that I can tell you with great certainty is that a firearms fit and feel to a shooter has a drastic impact on his or her ability to shoot and more importantly to shoot well. This impact spans the gap of both physiological and psychological ability; the confidence instilled in some shooters I have seen simply by switching them from a Glock 22 (full size) to a Glock 23 (compact) is night and day. The guns are literally identical to one another in every way imaginable outside of size but that simple switch made all the difference in the world both in the psyche and the performance of the shooter.
After lots of searching the choice for us was pretty clear but not yet set in stone, the Syren Elos was looking better and better by the day. Now I did have a small heart attack when I saw the price tag of $2595 but then I remembered "you get what you pay for." After some eye batting, and some digging I was able to find a gun store near us that had an Elos in stock. This store was actually perfect for what we were looking for as itcarried a variety of O/U shotguns from Stoeger all the way to the 14K Berettas this store had almost everything you could ask for. My wife giddly jumped as the salesman handed her the Elos, at the first grip I knew that was going to be her gun. The gun shouldered perfectly on the first raise with the help of the Monte Carlo stock and the balance of the gun was excellent in spreading the 8 lbs out to a smooth swinging clay killer. We were able to gain some knowledge about the differences between the CG Syrens and the Fab Syrens that helped seal the deal for us, and tried a few other O/U's just to be sure we had found what we really wanted. Following the hour long trip to the store, and the hour or so in the store we were on or way home with pockets that were a bit lighter and an SUV that was about 8 pounds heavier.
Later that evening I took the time to adjust the length of pull via the adjustable trigger, when I found my first and only gripe about the gun thus far. The instructions call to use an ALLEN wrench to adjust the screw inside the trigger (very small and recessed so you cant see what type of screw it is) however after several attempts I found a small T6 Torx wrench in the box that turned out to be the correct fit.
Fast forward a week to shooting day and it was time to see if we really had gotten what we paid for. I had set the gun up with an IC in the bottom barrel and a modified in the top, we have a champion electric thrower at our disposal so it was going to be a day of backyard clays. After the first couple of rounds I noticed that the IC Barrel was clearly making the hits where the Modified was trailing. I then had her swap the configuration around to have Skeet in the bottom and IC in the top.... Voila problem solved. All in all it was a great day of shooting, and we look forward to many more days of it to come.
Morals of the story/ TLDR
Fit is critical in this sport
Try before you buy
You get what you pay for
Take a serious look at the Syrens they are money well spent