Getting started 101...


Dave McCracken
November 9, 2003, 12:28 PM
For whatever reason, you wish to be a shotgunner.

Maybe you tried clay sports with friends and found a lot of enjoyment in destroying clay discs loudly.

Maybe you want less dependence on the food distribution network, or just like the idea of furnishing meat for your family's table like an amateur gardener does his corn, cukes and tomatoes.

Maybe you recognize that the world can be quite dangerous, and a shotgun is a cost effective means of reducing that danger to you and yours.

Or maybe you grew up with a shotgun. And after school and getting the career off the ground, you want to return to your roots the way a salmon seeks the river of its birth.

For whatever reason, you want to be a shotgunner. Not just someone with a shotgun, not someone who shoots a little, but someone who wants to attain more than bare proficiency.

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" applies here. Doing shotguns less than well is dangerous, oft painful, and non productive. And irresponsibility with shotguns gives credence to the bleatings of the control freaks like Sarah Brady, the Clintons, and others who wish to rule, not serve, the People. And, they dislike the idea of us politically unreliable citizens possessing stuff with "Legitimate Sporting Use".

And so, here's a guide for those just getting into shotgunning. Here's what you need in the way of equipment....

First,of course,a shotgun is required.Whether it's a rusty ol' barn kept single shot worth $50 at best or a Piotti costing more than my house, it's merely a device to direct a cloud or clouds of shot to a predetermined target at a predetermined time, and to do so comfortably for the shooter.

We hear a lot about all around or General Purpose shotguns, and I've added to the clamor. The plain fact is no compromise shotgun will do a given job as well as a dedicated one. However, often we can find one that's close enough for our purposes.

Most folks will do their best with a repeater. Single shots are too limited, and the various doubles are oft good but not the BEST choice for a first shotgun.

Repeaters are divided into Autoloaders, AKA Semi Autos, and Pumps. Pumps have a slight reliability advantage. Good autos, well maintained, are pretty well past the stuff that gave them the name "Jamamatics". Autos cost more. Pumps cost less than a week's pay for a working person. The better autos cut the kick well. Take your pick and stick to US made name brands and maybe the Italian owned Beretta/Benelli products. Saving a few bucks buying a Third World made clone gun and having to send it back to Uzbekihastan when it hiccups is false economy.

The Big Four(Winchester 1300, Ithaca 37, Mossberg 500 and the ubiquitous Remington 870 pumpguns) are lots of gun for the money. All are well made, effective and will last past a generation if maintained. The Manual Of Arms (MOA) is easily learned and simple.

Good autos currently made include the Beretta 391, the Remington 1100 and 11-87, the Browning Gold and its near twin the Winchester X-2. These all use gas to cycle the mechanism, which reduces felt recoil. Most are available in 20 gauge, a good choice for newbies who are on the smaller and less muscled side.

Second, we need ammo. 12 gauge stuff is available from slugs, a solid mass of lead, to 9 shot,about the size of a grain of sand. Each has a purpose, explained further along.

Right now, what is needed is light loads of smallish shot. 8s and 7 1/2s are good choices. Get the cheapest and lightest you can find for now, later more expensive fodder may be best.

Third, we NEED eye and ear protection. This is not negotiable or to be ignored.

Hearing loss starts with the first shot when the ears are not protected. Both plugs and muffs work, try them both and pick one or both depending on mission.

Eye protection is available for a pittance, Or, one can get fancy glasses in a rainbow of tints for diverse lighting conditions. Yellow works well for most people under an overcast or near dusk/dawn. I prefer a medium grey for bright conditions, but YMMV. Really dark tints aren't a good thing here. Of course, one can use untinted ones also.

Fourth, Something to carry shells and empties is a good idea. I've 4 vests or so here, none is ideal but all work. For summer use, I switch to a belt and pouch setup.

Now go shoot things and have fun...

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November 9, 2003, 12:48 PM
Dave, as usual, another great post!
Great Topic!

You covered it, I might suggest in addition:
-4 Rules Always
-Bob Brister's -Shotgunning: The Art And The Science
For information purposes about gun/load/choke/fit/patterning...etc. Granted this is an older book, but I'm biased as to how many questions are addressed in this one book. Often I have suggested a new/returning shooter read before buying a first shotgun, or to refresh one whom is returning to the Shotgun. Granted not geared to Defensive Use of SG, many basics overlap IMO.


Dave McCracken
November 9, 2003, 08:44 PM
Thanks, 73. Safety has its own chapter, out shortly. So does instruction and training.

There'll be a recommended reading section eventually. Brister is amazing. If a shotgunner reads nothing else, he/she should read Brister.

November 9, 2003, 09:02 PM
So, when is this McCraken fella ,I keep hearing about, gonna do a hardbound copy?

Seems like a nice enough guy, might want to check into that...;)

Dave McCracken
November 10, 2003, 05:41 AM
Not immediately, but definitely within a year or so.

November 13, 2003, 05:32 AM
Great post Dave! You make it easier for alot of us new shotgunners here to get into the sport! Thanks...

Dave McCracken
November 13, 2003, 06:01 AM
You're very welcome. Read the whole series, buy the book when it's out, I hope!

November 14, 2003, 06:09 PM
Please do a book! That would be fantastic.


Dave McCracken
November 14, 2003, 08:01 PM
There will be a book. Stay tuned...

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