June 13th, 2007

Recoil–Can it Be a Good Thing?

Over the past decade and a half we’ve seen a definite trend to smaller calibers in both Highpower and long-range benchrest competition. Smaller projectiles have allowed a whole new style of bench-shooting, where you don’t have to hold the rifle at all. In the Service Rifle discipline, the .223 “Mouse Guns” changed the sport forever. Many would say this “downsizing” is all for the good. But have we lost something in the process? In engineering away recoil, have we “neutered” the sport and made it less exciting?

Here’s what the legendary Col. Jeff Cooper had to say:

“Do you enjoy recoil? A recent article in Magnum magazine from South Africa points out that the retroactive shock delivered by the shooting of a firearm is not necessarily punishment. The sock you feel when your racket centers a tennis ball, or when you floor the throttle on a highly-bred car in third gear, or when you hit the water from the boat deck of your fishing cruiser–these things are exhilarating. It seems possible that this tendency to mitigate the shock of recoil maybe overlooking something. Personally I enjoy shooting a full-sized weapon more than I do a 22, and if I can remember that far back, I used to anticipate with distinct pleasure an unavoidable tackle when running back a kickoff. Perhaps we should think further upon this.” — Jeff Cooper Commentary

Is the Colonel right? Is recoil part of the fun of the sport, like the heeling force of a sailboat when it catches a puff of wind? Have we gone too far in reducing recoil in our “full-bore” match calibers? Has shooting become a sport for wimps?

What are your views?
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