If you go shopping for shotgun ammunition at your local gun shop, you will soon figure out that most shotgun ammunition comes in 25 round boxes unless it is buckshot or slugs. With that in mind, I came up with a standard 25 round practice session that I can use for the shotgun to help maintain skill. You think 25 rounds really isn’t all that much, but for a shotgun, you can get a lot of value out of 25 rounds. (Note: Apparently Rob Haught, the Yoda of shotguns, has a similar practice routine that he gives out at his classes)
- First drill is 1 round from the ready position of your choice with the safety on. After the round has been fired, be sure to properly follow through on the target and load what has been fired to return the gun to full capacity. Shoot the gun, pump the gun, load the gun. Repeat the drill for a total of 6 repetitions.
- The second drill is a progression drill that starts at 1 round, goes up to 3 rounds fired, then back to 1 as detailed below. Don’t forget to have proper follow through and top the gun off between strings of fire.
- Repetition #1, fire 1 round.
- Repetition #2, fire 2 rounds.
- Repetition #3, fire 3 rounds.
- Repetition #4, fire 2 rounds.
- Repetition #5, Fire 1 round.
- The third drill is an emergency loading drill. Set the shotgun up with one round in the chamber. From the ready position of your choice, fire 1 round, if running a pump gun be sure to fully cycle the gun again and press the trigger on an empty chamber to get the proper stimulus to initiate the reload, then emergency load (port load) 1 round into the gun, fire, and port load again. On the second iteration of the port load, it is not necessary to press the trigger on an empty chamber because we know that we only loaded one round at that point. We finish with another port load to set up for the next repetition, and for proper follow through at the end of the drill. Repeat for a total of 5 repetitions.
I tried to really give this some thought with regard to what is required to actually work in live fire with a shotgun, since a lot of it can be worked dry fire. Also, to set the context, this is meant to be a basic “I have a shotgun for home defense” type thing. Obviously there are skills above and beyond what is covered in this short range session, but those skills are less likely to be used in this context. So what we have here is a narrow focus on the key aspects of shooting a shotgun for home defense.
- The ability to quickly mount the gun properly, acquire an acceptable sight picture, and fire an accurate shot.
- The ability to manage recoil and fire multiple, quick shots as required.
- Building good habits with proper follow through and maintaining a fully loaded shotgun as much as possible.
- The ability to recognize an empty gun and quickly get the gun back to a fighting condition with an emergency reload.
If someone had the ability to set up multiple targets, or wanted to add movement to these drills, that could easily be done while still shooting the same basic drill. The assumption in this case is that range limitations prevent those sorts of things. For the minimal investment of about $10 in 12 gauge ammunition and maybe 15 minutes of time, that is a lot to check off the list with regard to the shotgun.