Getting your kicks while waterfowl hunting doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having fun.

In Ducks Unlimited, writer Phil Bourjaily bemoans the harsh recoil that often accompanies modern guns and notes the experience can also be fickle, with each hunter experiencing the strength of a gun’s kick differently.

Bourjaily breaks down the physics of gun recoil:

“Manufacturers have given us the lighter guns and hotter loads we thought we wanted. Now that we have them, we complain that they kick. And for good reason. Some lightweight, 3 1/2-inch, 12-gauge guns generate as much recoil as a .458 Winchester Magnum elephant gun.

“Recoil is a mathematical function of three factors: gun weight, payload weight (shot, wad, and powder), and payload velocity. Gun makers can’t change the laws of physics to make guns recoil less, but they can soften the blow by reducing felt recoil (aka kick). Bear in mind, however, that everyone feels recoil differently. A recoil reducer that works for one shooter may not help another.”

Bourjaily says, hunters don’t have to put up with their favorite weapon constantly kicking them around. From stock absorbers to ear plugs, there are plenty of ways a waterfowler can mitigate the discomfort and heighten the pleasure of hunting.

For Bourjaily’s recoil reducing advice, click here.