When you are shooting a shotgun, there are a few things that you need to remember to ensure that you hit your target. In addition to choosing a safe gun range club to practice (see Rifle & Revolver Club gun range), you must consider many factors.
Consider this list of the most important tips to remember:
Firstly, know that there are four main positions in shooting, including:
This is the most challenging position as you must use both your arms and legs to keep the gun steady. You will also be using more muscles, which can get tired quickly.
This position is mostly used in clay pigeon shooting. You will be resting most of your weight on your back leg, with your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Your front arm should be straight, while your back hand should be supporting the gun.
In this position, you will be lying flat on your stomach with your elbows tucked in close to your body. Your legs should also be spread apart for balance and stability.
Prone is the easiest and most stable position, but you may have a limited view of your target, especially with tall grasses as obstacles.
The sitting position is somewhere in between the kneeling and prone positions. You will be resting your weight on your buttocks, with your back straight and your legs bent at the knees. Your knees should also support your elbows.
This is a good position if you are shooting at targets lower to the ground, such as rabbits.
2. Breathing Control and Trigger Squeeze
Note that your breathing can affect your aim, especially when shooting in a standing position. When you exhale, your body naturally moves slightly to the left (for right-handed shooters).
Here are tips on how to control your breathing:
- Inhale deeply and exhale about halfway, then hold your breath.
- Focus on the front sight and then squeeze the trigger when the sights are lined up with the target.
- Don’t jerk or pull the trigger – just squeeze it gently.
Trigger squeeze is also essential to maintain accuracy. You want to squeeze the trigger quickly and smoothly, so the movement doesn’t affect your aim.
3. Follow Through
Once you have fired the shot, don’t move the gun away from the target immediately. Keep your sights on the target until it breaks or falls. This is called “follow-through,” and you must see where your shots will make necessary adjustments.
Note: If you are using a pump-action or semi-automatic shotgun, you need to cycle the action quickly to fire the next shot without delay.
How you hold the gun can also affect your accuracy. Here are tips on how to grip a shotgun:
- Hold the gun at the balance point, usually where the barrels meet the receiver.
- Wrap your thumb around the stock and place your index finger with the trigger guard.
- Your other fingers should be placed below the trigger guard.
- Your grip must be firm enough but not too tight. The last thing you want is your hands to get tired quickly.
Aiming is important in any shooting sport. In shotgun sports, you must lead the target slightly because the shot pellets will spread out as they travel. This is called “patterning,” and you can do this by firing at a large piece of cardboard or paper to see how the pellets spread out. Adjust your aim accordingly.
Similar to archery (see MVRRC archery range), you will use both your eyes and mind when shooting. Improve your aim with the following tips:
- Keep both eyes open when you are looking at the target.
- Focus on the front sight, not the target.
- Don’t think about squeezing the trigger – do it smoothly and quickly.
- Relax your body and draw a deep breath to steady yourself.
- If you still have trouble hitting the target, try using a shotgun with a ventilated rib. This will help you line up the gun with the target more easily. You can also use a bead or fiber optic sight for better aim.
- Practice makes perfect, so don’t get discouraged if you miss the target at first. Keep practicing, and eventually, you will get the hang of it.
6. Dry Fire Practice
In addition to live fire practice, you should also do some dry fire practice at home. This is when you practice your aiming and trigger squeeze without actually firing the gun.
It’s important to use dummy rounds or snap caps so you don’t damage the firing pin. You can also use an unloaded gun if you double-check that it is truly unloaded (there should be no shells in the magazine or chamber).
Set up some targets in your backyard and go through the same motions as if you were shooting live rounds. The goal is to ingrain muscle memory so that you can do it without thinking while at the gun range.
These are only some of the basics of shotgun shooting. As you get more experienced, you will develop your methods and techniques. The important thing is to practice regularly to become a better and more accurate shooter.
Also, choose a gun range, like MVRRC Club, with experienced and certified instructors. Visit to see in the middle Musquodoboit.