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Do you ever forget just how well something works?

Advice for the Shooter

Do you ever forget just how well something works? Have you used something so often that you just don’t think about it anymore? I must confess that I do that at times.

For the past several years, every time I go to the range, either here at home or in competition, I wear my EvoShield shooting system. It’s become as automatic to me as making sure I have my guns and ammo.

I was very skeptical of the claims made by the ES representative several years ago when he asked me to give this new product in development a try. Since however, trying new products is part of what I do, I agreed to try it and send him my evaluation.

In the event that you’re not familiar with the ES shooting system, I’ll tell you just a bit about it. The “easy” part for me to understand was the form-fitting body shirt with a pocket for the recoil pad. The shirt is designed to fit very tightly to keep the recoil pad in the same place all of the time and is constructed of some moisture wicking material to keep you cooler and drier when you shoot. So far, so good.

The real innovative part of the shooting system is however the pad itself. You can read about the materials used to manufacture it at but I’ll just tell you how it works from a shooter’s point of view.

It’s very important to read the instructions about fitting the pad prior to beginning that process. It’s quite different from anything you may have tried previously. The pad comes in a metallic looking sealed pouch. That’s part of the “magic” of the pad. When you receive it and take it out of the pouch, it’s very soft and pliable. The instructions tell you to place it in the pouch and start to mould it to your body.

In just a few minutes that soft and pliable pad starts to “air harden” and in just 10 minutes or so turns into a piece of body armor that will reduce the recoil you feel by as much as 70% - 80%.

While the pad is air-curing, you want to bring the butt of your gun into your natural shooting pocket for about 10 seconds, every minute or so to let the pad not only form to your body but also to your gun. In that way you establish a permanent “set” for your gun butt and it will index to that spot each time you shoulder it.

Doing the same thing (correctly) each time is one key to good marksmanship. The EvoShield allows you to set your gun in the same position each and every time you shoulder it, is the first step in that “doing the same thing each time” category.  Sight picture, breathing and trigger squeeze of course must still be mastered but proper position starts you off correctly each time.

Position is great and a vital first step but the “advertised” advantage of the EvoShield is of course, recoil reduction. Does it work? As I said earlier I was initially very skeptical. One visit to my range however, removed whatever doubt I might have had. This really works! I tried all kinds of shotguns and rifles, some of my worst kickers and felt much less recoil than I’d ever experienced and more importantly, it was not the sharp kick but more like a gentle push to my shoulder.

Fast forward to today, several years after that initial trial and my visits to the range. I was in a real hurry, it was almost 100 degrees with very high humidity and I had a prototype choke tube to evaluate and needed to get the results back to the manufacturer as quickly as possible. I’d been working in my shop, making sure the gun I used to test it had a deep cleaned barrel and that the choke tube was squeaky clean as well.

For whatever reason, concentrating on the evaluation, heat, laziness, whatever, I decided not to use the EvoShield for what I thought would be just a few shots to sight-in this choke with the gun and shotshells at my range before my real evaluation began.

Immediately after touching off the first 3” shell from my gun, I regretted my decision. That sharp hit to my right shoulder reminded me why the EvoShield shooting system is so valuable. When you’re leaning into a fairly light 12 gauge shotgun at the bench, you take the full impact of the recoil. It hurts, especially when you’re wearing a thin shirt with nothing between you and the gun butt except some cotton cloth!

I had forgotten how well the EvoShield worked. I had just become accustomed to wearing it and taken it for granted, something I won’t do again anytime soon. I never fail to wear it in competition because I know what the accumulative effect of recoil can do to my scores. I also know that recoil can produce a flinch that the shooter may not even be aware he has but will consistently produce inconsistent results. Many hunters wonder how they missed that deer or turkey when it should have been an easy shot.

Our brain does not want us to get hurt! It normally teaches us to avoid painful experiences or if we cant’ avoid them entirely, to minimize the pain by compensating in some way. A flinch causes us to push the gun away from our body in that effort. Unfortunately, it also causes us to miss and many times we don’t even realize that we have the flinch.

When we use good recoil protection, each and every time we shoot, our brain has no need to protect us from abuse and we don’t learn bad habits like flinching. I know that but on one very hot day, I just forgot. I don’t plan to do that again soon.

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