Plenty of people understand that a shotgun is a great tool for home defense, but many new shooters fail to understand that a shotgun is only a great tool for home defense if they know how to properly manipulate, handle and fire one.The fact is, a shotgun is a long gun with considerable recoil that requires proper technique to master. If you don’t have great technique, then the shotgun will be less effective, less accurate and likely result in uncomfortable recoil. But fortunately, there are a few simple practices that will have you loading, unloading and shooting the shotgun proficiently in no time.
Mastering the Controls
Like any tool, automobile or appliance, before using a shotgun you must learn and master its controls. This includes its bolt opening mechanism (whether it be a pump, break action or semi-auto), its safety, trigger, bolt release button and other buttons depending on the model.
The best way to learn these is to ask a trusted expert for personal instruction, but it can also be learned by reading the gun’s instruction manual. Once the controls are located and understood, it’s time to get on the range. Practice loading, chambering, mounting, dryfiring, and unloading the shotgun until its controls become second nature.
Once a shotgun’s controls and loading/unloading it are mastered, you must practice shooting it until its recoil becomes routine, and its pattern prints to your natural point of aim. Start by placing a stationary target such as a clay pigeon 15 paces away. With the shotgun fully loaded and from a low-ready position, bring the gun’s stock up to your cheek (not your cheek to the stock), so the top of the barrel is brought into alignment with the target. When your cheek is firmly on the stock, pull the buttstock in tightly to your shoulder. Lean forward into the gun so that two thirds of your weight is on your front foot. Now, try not to consciously aim, but rather quickly point the gun’s muzzle at the target and pull the trigger. With practice, you should smash the clay target every time, without overly thinking about it.
Once the mount and proper shooting form is learned, plan a trip to a local trap-and-skeet or sporting clays course. If the course has a wobble trap, buy a few rounds. By participating in shotgun shooting sports, you’ll forget about the gun’s recoil and instead have fun trying to hit the flying targets. Before you know it, you’ll become intimately familiar with your shotgun.