Shooting a Shotgun: It’s All in the Technique

The key to shooting a shotgun effectively is in the technique. Aside from choosing a safe and comfortable gun range for practicing (such as MVRR Club), You have to remember a few key pointers when firing to hit your target successfully.

Here are the most important ones:

1. Pick the Right Gun

Not all shotguns are created equal, and you should find one that fits your size and shooting style. If possible, try a few different models at the gun range before making your purchase.

Consider the following factors when buying:

  • A shotgun should be shouldered to be fired correctly.
  • The gun’s stock (the part you hold) should fit snugly into the “pocket” formed by your shoulder, with the end of the stock resting against your cheek. If the stock is too long or too short, it will be difficult to aim the gun properly. Likewise, if the gun is too heavy or too light, it will be hard to keep steady while shooting.
  • The shotgun gauge (the measure of how wide the bore is) will also affect your decision. The most common gauges are 12, 20, and .410. A 12-gauge shotgun is the largest and most powerful, while a .410 is the smallest and least powerful.

Once you’ve selected the right gun, it’s time to choose the proper ammunition. Again, there are some factors to consider, including the type of gun you’re using, the game you’re hunting, and your shooting style.

For instance, if you’re using a 12-gauge shotgun for upland bird hunting, you want to use shells loaded with smaller shots. If you doubt which model to buy, the staff at gun stores or the gun range can help you select the right one.

2. Position Yourself Correctly

Once you have the right gun and ammunition, position yourself to shoot accurately. There are four main positions when shooting, namely:

  • Standing
  • Kneeling
  • Sitting
  • Prone

Standing is the most challenging position as you must maintain your balance while aiming. Kneeling is easier as you can use your elbow for support, but it’s still not as stable as sitting or prone.

The easiest position is prone, lying down on your stomach with the gun in front of you. However, because of its low position, you may not see your target if there is an obstacle, such as tall grass.

The best way to find the best position for you is to practice at the gun range. Try out all four positions and see which one you’re most comfortable with.

In a real hunting situation, you won’t always have the luxury of choosing your position. That’s why it’s important to practice shooting in all four positions at the gun range.

3. Remember to Keep Both Eyes Open

It may sound counterintuitive, but keeping both eyes open while shooting will help you aim better. Your depth perception is reduced when you close one eye, making it more difficult to judge distances.

Instead of closing one eye, focus on the gun’s front sight and allow your peripheral vision to take in the target. It may take some practice, but you will be able to keep both eyes open and still hit your target eventually.

4. Get a Good Grip

How you grip the shotgun is also vital for accuracy. When gripping the gun, your trigger finger should be on the outside of the trigger guard, not inside. You also want to ensure a firm grip on the gun but not so tight that your hand starts to cramp up.

5. Aiming

Side by side, point your shotgun at the target. Both eyes should be open. The front bead should be superimposed on the target. The rear sight will be blurry. If it’s not, you’re probably not looking through the shotgun correctly.

Squeeze the trigger while maintaining this sight picture. Don’t jerk or pull the trigger. The gun should fire without moving off the target.

6. Breath Control and Trigger Squeeze

Breath control and trigger squeeze often go hand-in-hand. If you’re not breathing properly, you’re likely to jerk the trigger when you fire.

To breathe correctly, inhale deeply and then exhale about half your breath before taking the shot. This will help you stay calm and steady while you’re shooting. When you’re ready to take the shot, slowly squeeze the trigger. The gun should fire without moving off target.

Trigger squeeze is also vital for accuracy. Many novice shooters jerk the trigger when they fire, which causes the gun to move off target. To avoid this, practice squeezing the trigger slowly and evenly until the gun fires. 

7. Follow Through

Once you’ve pulled the trigger, don’t lower the gun immediately. Instead, keep your shotgun pointed at the target for a few seconds to ensure you hit your mark. This is especially important when you’re hunting moving targets.

If you lower the gun too soon, you may miss the target entirely. Following through ensures you hit your target and make a successful shot.

8. Practice Makes Perfect

As with anything, practice makes perfect. You become better at hitting your target as you shoot more.

In Closing

In addition to picking the right shotgun and ammunition, learning techniques improve your accuracy. Remember to keep both eyes open, practice squeezing the trigger, get a good grip on the gun, and follow-through after you’ve fired. With practice, you’ll be hitting your target in no time.

Also, the gun range for practicing plays a significant role in helping you learn how to shoot accurately. Choose a well-lit gun range with targets at different distances, such as MVRR Club (find the details here). This helps you fine-tune your skills and become a better shooter.