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Training Drills to Improve Shotgun Skills for Home Defense

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During what’s known today as the Arizona War, or Cochise County War, a posse gave chase to a murderous outlaw…

Wyatt Earp, the newly minted U.S. Deputy Marshal, headed up the posse…

They were on the hunt, federal warrant in hand, for one William “Curly Bill” Brocious. Brocius was a known cattle rustler… stagecoach robber… and killer.

And to arm himself for the manhunt, Earp borrowed a J. Stevens & Co. Double Barrel Percussion 10-gauge shotgun from his friend Fred Dodge. The posse caught up to “Curly Bill” and some associates at Iron Springs on March 24, 1882.

And in the ensuing shootout, Earp gunned down the outlaw with the shotgun he’d borrowed from Dodge. You see, while Hollywood westerns feature gunslingers trying to out-draw each other with six guns…

Savvy gunfighters like Wyatt Earp often preferred a shotgun. In fact, Doc Holiday famously used a shotgun at the O.K. Corral shootout. So, while the rifle and six-gun may get the credit for taming the West…

Virtually everyone recognized the value of a shotgun for hunting and defense in a wild, hostile land…

And many early pioneers chose a shotgun for their primary weapon. To this day the shotgun lives on as a versatile weapon that many people use for home defense.

The big advantage of a self-defense shotgun is the ability to fire multiple projectiles every time you pull the trigger. That’s something no other gun can do, at least effectively. The reason that’s an advantage is not because the pellets spread out so that you don’t have to aim.

Rather, at closer distances, such as inside a home, buckshot is only going to spread a few inches. And because the pattern stays tight, the cumulative effect a cluster of pellets has is devastating to an intruder.

With that being said, I want to share with you a few different drills that can help you train for a home defense situation with your shotgun.

Moving targets. The problem with most paper and steel targets is, unlike real assailants, they never move.

Chances are, during a home invasion you may face more than one intruder. And if you don’t stop the intruder with the first round, you may have to engage them with several shots to stop the threat.

A way to practice this type of shooting is to incorporate moving targets into your training. So, next time you are at the range, place some aluminum cans 7 yards from the firing line, a few feet apart from one another.

Using your self-defense shotgun, shoot the first can. Then shoot it again before it quits tumbling backward. While it’s still moving from your second shot, switch to the next can, and shoot it twice, etc.

Close quarters. In a home-defense scenario, family and bad guys may be entwined. So you need to have an understanding of what a shotgun’s pattern will do at various ranges.

Here’s an easy drill to train this:

Set up a paper target to serve as a “no-shoot” obstacle close to you. Then place a target in line with it 5 to 10 yards behind it. With the shotgun loads you plan to use for home defense, shoot the second target. Be sure to keeping all pellets off the closer, “no -shoot” target.

Now, shoot a few more rounds. Each time move your shotgun muzzle closer to the “no-shoot” target, until you just pepper the edge of it.

Doing this will give you a better understanding of how close is too close. You’ll also know how far to expose yourself from behind cover to ensure you hit only your intended target.

Tactical Reload. A tactical reload means finding a shell with your support hand… shoving it in the open action… and pushing the action-release button on a semi, or cycling the action with a pump…

All while keeping the shotgun on target.

During a tactical reload your eyes should stay forward, scanning for threats. So you’ll be learning how to reload without looking at your hands, the shells or your shotgun.

In a gunfight, taking the time to fully reload the magazine could be deadly. A tactical reload lets you feed one shell and shoot it, over and over, until the immediate threat has passed.

Next time you go to the shooting range, consider incorporating these drills with your shotgun. Along with boosting confidence…

Being more skilled with your shotgun, can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

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