To gain the full tactical advantage a shotgun offers in a self-defense situation, it takes a strategic game plan. Here are four tips to boost your tactical shotgun skills.
Four considerations for improving your tactical shotgun skills:
- Choose Your Action
- Rig It For Defense
- Feed The Machine
- Pattern The Shotgun
Shotguns have a long and successful history. The first use of the term shotgun dates back to the late 1700s. The military has used shotguns extensively. They were popular with cavalry on both sides during the War Between the States, Germany filed an official complaint against the U.S. during WWI for the use of “trench guns,” and both French and U.S. forces used shotguns in the jungles of Vietnam. Almost every law enforcement agency issues “riot guns,” although AR’s seem to be steadily replacing them. Ask homeowners what weapon they have for home protection and the answer was and usually is a shotgun. It is truly a versatile weapon, especially considering the wide variety of ammo available today. The key to shotguns is setting one up for proper home defense and having mastery of basic tactical shotgun skills to be able to use it well.
Choose Your Action
Shotguns come in all types, from single-shot and double-barrel break tops, lever, bolt and pump actions to semi- and even full-auto. The most versatile shotguns are pump actions. A lot of the semi-auto guns are ammo sensitive; a pump gun works with reduced recoil rounds, “dragon-breath” flame-throwing rounds, non-lethal rounds and, of course, standard tactical and home defense loads. Single and double barrels will also work with the various rounds; you’ll just have to learn to reload more efficiently.
Rig It For Defense
When it comes to setting up your home defense shotgun, a sling is mandatory. The sling for the shotgun is like the holster for your pistol. I prefer a simple two-point sling, which can be looped around my neck for a hands-free mode. “Tactical” slings, the term I use for anything that loops around the body, have their place, just keep in mind in the middle of the night when you’re grabbing the gun there may not be time to loop it up. Practice some without having the sling looped around your body.
The standard front sight is a round bead. For fighting we need a sight that’s quick to pick up in the daylight as well as when it’s dark. Again, there are a lot of options. My favorite is the XS brand sights. They offer replacement front sights, and sets with front and rear sights. Adjustable sights are good, especially if you’re shooting slugs for accuracy. Another option is the red-dot sight, which works as well on shotguns as they do on carbines.
Equipping the shotgun with a light is a good idea. You can run a handheld light with a pistol or carbine, but operating a pump shotgun with a handheld light never works out very well. Just keep in mind that the recoil of a shotgun places a lot more stress on the light system, so do plenty of research to find out what your best option is.
It’s also a good idea to carry extra ammo. I use either a butt-cuff, strapped around the stock, a side-saddle, which holds extra rounds on the side of the receiver, or both. There are a lot of other accessories for shotguns, but not everyone needs all of them. I prefer to lean toward simplicity and light weight. As you train and begin to improve your tactical shotgun skills, don’t be afraid to experiment with different parts and accessories until discovering the right combination for you.
To use a shotgun properly requires training and practice. Training is an introduction to the shotgun skills you need; practice is the repetition necessary to actually learn these skills. You start with loading, which is more complicated than most people actually think, particularly in a high-stress situation.
After that, you learn unloading without cycling the action back and forth and dumping your rounds on the ground. You’ll also learn how and why to cycle the pump action aggressively, using the elbow instead of the shoulder joint.
Racking the action correctly prevents the action bars from binding, or locking up, and “short-stroking,” which is a major cause of most shotgun malfunctions. You need to know how to clear malfunctions and most importantly how to reload.
Feed The Machine
There are a variety of reloading techniques for the shotgun. The main thing to keep in mind is that you have to feed the machine. Shotguns have a limited round count, and while you shouldn’t need a lot of ammo, you never know what may be required to win the fight.