More Thoughts On The Defensive Shotgun

Good training and good technique makes the scattergun even more effective.

posted on July 22, 2023
Sheriff Jim Wilson

One of the reasons that the shotgun is often overlooked as a defensive tool is recoil. Folks who have spent a lot of time shooting the .22 LR, .223 Rem. or even the lighter-caliber deer rifles either don’t know how to manage recoil or have gotten sloppy about it. When folks tell me about how a 12 gauge kicks, I like to tell them about a 110-pound lady I know who has hunted all over the world with a .375 H&H Magnum.

To manage the kick of a 12 gauge, it is important to first tuck the buttstock firmly into the shoulder pocket. The strong hand, the one on the pistol grip, needs to continually pull the gun solidly into that shoulder pocket. Some even suggest that the support hand, at the same time, should push forward on the gun, creating an isometric hold.

One additional problem for the defensive shotgun is that the standard 14-inch buttstock is too long for most people. It probably works fine for the bladed stance that most bird hunters use, but the bladed stance is a mistake for the defensive shooter.

The defensive shooter should address the target with a shotgun in the same way one does with the handgun. That is, the shooter should be squared away with the target, facing it. Knees should be slightly bent and one's weight should be on the balls of the feet. In addition, elbows should be tucked down, not stuck out there like chicken wings. This type of stance not only allows the shooter to move quickly but it also helps manage recoil.

When shooting the shotgun in this preferred manner, the 14-inch buttstock is just too long. I have a 33-inch shirt sleeve and do my best work with a 12-inch buttstock. Another advantage of the shorter stock is that other, smaller members of the family will also be able to manage it more effectively. It is a simple fact that we can all manage a shorter stock more effectively than we can one that is too long.

As I said in the previous column, the defensive shotgun is quite a bit different than the typical bird gun. Once a person learns the difference and how to deal with it, the fighting shotgun will have another fan. 

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