Accuracy Matters, Even with Shotgun

So when I have clients bring up the shotgun issue we do two things. First they print the shotgun with the ammo they plan on carrying at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 feet. The spread of pellets is measured at each distance. Then I have the client go home and measure various distances in their home or business.

The 12 gauge pump shotgun, it is by far the most popular home defense gun in the United States. Though this status is based on a few myths. One myth being, that the sound of racking the shotgun will intimidate and scare the threat. The other myth, the user does not need to be marksman, instead you just point and shoot. Lets look at the first myth. Do you really want to rely on a metallic sound to communicate your willingness to defend yourself? How about a nice clear verbal command like, “I am in fear for my life, come through that door and I will shoot you”. By that point the gun should be loaded and ready to go, the only thing you are waiting for is to identify the threat and run the fundamentals of marksmanship. The second myth of point and shoot is far more technical and once you understand your environment and your mission you might change your mind on choosing the shotgun as your home defense weapon of choice.

The shotgun is a devastating weapon, especially at close range and I don’t think anyone will dispute that. What I take issue with is the “point and shoot” mindset people adopt with the shotgun. People seem to think the shotgun is a magic death ray that destroys everything forward of the muzzle. It goes back to the age old debate concerning handgun calibers, 9 vs 40 vs 45 and everyone says 45 because of knock down, mass, energy and so on. The real issue with the handgun caliber debate and my argument concerning the shotgun has to do with shot placement. To be effective the shooter must put rounds on target.

Our ability to put rounds where they need to go is what makes us deadly, not the caliber or gauge we shoot. Most people understand this to an extent but with the shotgun they have this false sense of security, that mindset that I can just point and shoot and in the hands of an untrained person the shotgun is not the best choice. I have had dozens of students who have a 12 gauge pump shotgun for their home defense weapon. In many cases the 12 gauge pump was chosen specifically because of the low level of training and the ability to “point and shoot” was comforting. The first thing I ask people is what their ammo choice is and how does it print or what is the spread? The ammo is almost always 00 Buck but rarely does anyone know what their spread is.

So when I have clients bring up the shotgun issue we do two things. First they print the shotgun with the ammo they plan on carrying at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 feet. The spread of pellets is measured at each distance. Then I have the client go home and measure various distances in their home or business. The measurements in the home are from possible firing positions like your bedroom doorway and down the hall to a location you might first see a threat. These measurements give us an idea of what distances we need to train at and it allows us to better evaluate the clients weapon choice. In most cases, to include my own home getting to 30 feet is a stretch. Once you start working around furniture, doorways and various angles, 20 feet and closer is the norm.

Now we have the numbers and we can get a good look at what we need to accomplish in training or re-evaluate our weapon choice. For instance, my Remington 870 12 gauge with 18 inch barrel firing 00 Buck (12 pellet) prints a 3 inch spread at 10 feet, 6 inch spread at 20 feet and an 11 inch spread at 30 feet. At 10 and 20 feet those spreads are less than ideal for a point and shoot mindset. Accuracy matters because shot placement is critical in order to eliminate the threat. There are those out there who will argue that in CQB distances, 20 feet and less, that shooters don’t use their sights, rather they revert to “point shooting”. I agree to an extent. Point shooting exists but the point shooting I know is a byproduct of proper sighted shooting. This byproduct is from repetitious training, in this case doing presentations with that shotgun and making accurate hits so when you are confronted by a threat at 10 feet you can snap the shotgun into place and deliver that 3 inch spread of 00 Buck into the high center chest of the threat.

The 12 gauge pump is a devastating weapon but it requires training. It is not an out of the box; point and shoot home defense solution.

Apex Shooting and Tactics LLC is owned and operated by Andrew Blubaugh. Andrew has over 15 years of Military, Private Security and Law Enforcement experience. Andrew is a fulltime police officer, member of a county wide SWAT team and the primary firearm, tactics and use of force trainer for his agency. Additionally, Andrew spent 4 years as an adjunct instructor for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and continues to instruct with Chris Cerino Training Group and Rifle’s Only.

The cadre at Apex Shooting and Tactics are selected based on real world experience, ability to perform and instruct. We pride ourselves with being students first and instructors second.

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