Shotgun Manners 101...


Dave McCracken
December 28, 2003, 04:01 PM
My buddy had said over the phone that the associate he was bringing hunting with us was a Type A personality.

After an hour or so hunting near, not with, this person, I had a hunch what the A stood for.

He was the kind of senior executive that some refer to as hard driving, and others as a triple chrome-plated SOB. I favored Group II.

Obviously, he thought he was alpha male, gave us orders and advice on how to hunt, and considered any alternate opinion as trash.

And if I refer to Frankenstein as my mutt gun. that's one thing. If he makes a joke about guarding stagecoaches and sticking up liquor stores with it 10 minutes after first meeting, it's not something to endear him to me. He also dissed my friend's dog, a young one that needed polish and experience but was willing to please.

The big thing though, was any flush was his. No matter if he was on the right and the bird went left, it was his. To make sure, some of his shots were faster than Marshall Dillon's.

And if two of us swung on the same bird, he was ready to say, "I'm sure I hit that bird". This was doubtful, since he missed lots when he alone shot, but we let him have the birds.

He teetered right on the line of being unsafe with some of his manuevers, and asked me to carry Frankenstein unloaded because non breaking guns worried him.

I didn't. By the time we got back to our vehicles, I was doing a slow boil. Apologies the next day from my buddy helped, and knowing I'd never see his self important self again removed all the canker.

To this day, I'd like to kick his whatever.

And the point to all this?

The man's ego and Testosterone fueled braggadacio can be passed over. The lack of manners and almost dangerous gun handling cannot.

So, here's a few things from fields and range to look at.

Don't hog the shots or game. If two shotgunners fire at the same quarry, the best thing to say after is "Nice shot" or "Your bird". Good manners will get you invited back.It's best to divide things up, so that the shooter on the left takes shots going to the left and some of the ones going up the center.

When hunting,make sure you KNOW where the others are, and all the dogs. Don't shoot if you're doubtful.

Let me repeat that. If in doubt, don't shoot.EVER!

Know what's behind the bird. Taking a shot at a ringneck and sprinkling 6 shot on the Little Darling's Preschool field trip to farm country 300 yards away will not endear you to either the hunters nor non hunters in this scenario. In fact, it may get you locked up.

And observe the Four Rules as if someone's life depend on them. It does.

When dove hunting, skip the low shots. I've been sprinkled a few times with shot when some fool took a low shot, no damage. I did call the perps everything but fine, upstanding sportsmen.

And on the range....

Do not close the action of your gun until it's your turn to shoot.And, do not move from your post until all shooting is completed on that post.

The common practice of some trapshooters resting the muzzle of their break action guns on their shoes still bothers me. Few of these folks seem to have limps, so maybe it's just the idea that offends my sensibilities.

And when shooting on Post 5 at trap, turning to the right to go to Post 1 may keep you from clinking guns together with the guy from Post 4.

When acting as squad leader at trap, wait until you get a signal from the new Post 1 shooter before continuing. When you're the new Post 1, give the leader a signal you're ready.

Don't leave the line before everyone has shot their alloted rounds.

And in either place, never criticize another's choice of shotgun, dog, togs, or vehicle.

Did I miss anything?

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December 28, 2003, 04:31 PM
Dave, you are too gracious. There's nothing in the book that says you need to stay in the field with dangerous ???????s. I would have excused myself as soon as his true nature became apparent. Once his Trap shooter elitist persona showed itself with his remarks about Frank and pump shotguns being unloaded, my opinion of his character would have been voiced and I would have left the field to those needing to brown-nose. (I shoot Trap and the folks I shoot with could care less what you bring. One guy never brings the same gun twice; if he does it is a few weeks later. Another always shoots a Browning O/U but when we traded guns and he shot my 870, he still ran up a nice score.)

As for the rules of etiquette both in the hunting field and at Skeet & Trap – you’ve nailed those that I recall. Most of them come from experience and general safety, and are easily learned; they should be common sense, but as we know that isn’t too common.

Folks who throw insults at other folks, whether it’s their dog, their shotgun or their car have never been high on my list of wanting to see again.

December 28, 2003, 04:32 PM
Being mainly a skeet shooter I personally don't care for when someone invites themselves into an alrready full five man squad. It not only slows the shooters down it also slows the next squad going out to that field. Our range usually has enough fields to handle all the shooters and there is no waiting list on the ranges for the most part. If i decide to jump on an outgoing squad, I'll ask them if they mind another shooter or if they are in a hurry to get done. I will not hamper them with another man on the squad and will wait for an available spot on the next squad.

December 28, 2003, 04:51 PM
I think I've hunted with the same guy as Dave or at least a close relative. :rolleyes:

This year I became estranged from a friend who I introduced to the shooting sports because he was inattentive in his gun handling and made excuses when safety infractions were pointed out to him.

After he TWICE pointed a loaded shotgun at me in the field and I corrected him, he had the audacity to explain to me that I shouldn't have worried because "the safety WAS on." How I restrained myself from punching him in the snoot is beyond me. I won't shoot with him again.

The bottom line: No excuses for bad gun handling. Everyone can make a mistake and if one is pointed out the ONLY acceptable response is, "I'm sorry and it won't happen again."

Second point on manners: Please don't give pointers or shooting advice unless I ask for it. Yes, I know if I missed a skeet target I probably shot behind what I really don't appreciate is you announcing the fact to the entire squad. Unsought mid-round pointers on stance, gun hold etc. are not appreciated. I have a shooting instructor already and don't need another even if they are willing to work for free.

Also, if I'm shooting a sxs with double triggers and a straight grip please don't lecture me me that my gun is wrong for clay targets or that shooting skeet or trap gun down is wrong. What I am doing is getting ready for upland season or checking out a potential purchase or seeing if my friendly gunsmith did what was expected of him.

In return I will obey the four rules religiously, never offer unsolicited advice, be unfailingly polite and courteous and never say anything bad about your gun, your shooting stance or anything else. If you say something nice about my gun I will immediately offer you the chance to shoot it and won't take offense if you don't. If you run them straight I will be the first person to congratulate you even if we are in a tight competition.


December 28, 2003, 05:02 PM
I am old enough to know better but too young (or hotheaded maybe) to care. I'd deck his posterior acting self, the guy in the story. Been there and done that, life is too short, I am not going to put up with people like that. Most type "A" people when confronted mellow out in a hurry, the rest bleed just like you and me. If more people would just deck another man right in the mouth when he deserved it there would be a lot more people acting like decent human beings and a lot less type "A" behavior.

December 28, 2003, 06:58 PM
I can understand your slow boil. I don't think I would have lasted out the shoot with that guy.

You may be preaching to the choir on most of your points on etiquette though. These admonishments were drilled into my young skull before I ever shot a firearm. I think most of our fine group is of like mind.

Considering your experience with the Alpha dude, and experiences shared by a lot of us, there are many out there with guns, who were not as well prepared for life afield as they might have been.

December 28, 2003, 08:06 PM
Few of these folks seem to have limps, so maybe it's just the idea that offends my sensibilities.

Must say that line cracked me up. :D

Forwarded a copy to my 15 year old. This post says it better than the old man (this old man) could, certainly.

Tks for this one, Dave! (Thanks for them all, of course... ;) )

December 28, 2003, 10:54 PM
You forgot a very important rule. Whoever invites a rectum along has to supply the shells for the next outing.

As far as safety violations while shooting clays, we used to make anyone guilty of such a slip shoot with his pants around his ankles until he busted the next clay. Kept your mind on your muzzle and made you want to be a really good shot just in case you forgot.

December 28, 2003, 11:03 PM
I think Dave most of us gathered here are probably mindful of ''manners maketh man'' ....... both in the shooting scene and outside of it. Call it common courtesy if you will.

These ''types'' however are I fear imbued with an unpleasant degree of selfishness ... mixed in with overall self importance too. My approach - whether newbie to a group or not ... is basically - ''do unto others ........'' ..... and that usually works well.

The bottom line - and you have referred to this ... is and always will be .... GUN SAFETY ..... bad manners are (with difficulty) excused -- well, maybe tolerated!!

But when muzzles swing your way and everything point sto ''could care less'' ..... then time for ''boot to butt'' ... if not literally then metaphorically at least!!!

December 28, 2003, 11:22 PM
When dove hunting, skip the low shots. I've been sprinkled a few times with shot when some fool took a low shot, no damage. I did call the perps everything but fine, upstanding sportsmen
I agree. I have also got peppered a few times by knuckleheads on the other side of the field. So, now I only dove hunt with guys I know and hardly ever in an "Open to the Public" field. Doesnt mean I wont ever hunt with folks I dont know, just make sure we all are aware of the ground rules so to speak and eachothers location.

During Quail shoots, we are always talking to eachother and letting everyone know where we are. I am always on the right side of the wash since I'm a lefty shooter. Keeps me from sweeping anyone.

The rest sounds good.

December 28, 2003, 11:47 PM
Good Thread Topic!
I'm enjoying the responses.
Oh I started to post earlier but deleted...hit a nerve with me.

Short version is I have my ethics,principles and safety concerns...etc., will just mention only 2 situations,one on a skeet field, and one before a hunt. Do NOT point a loaded gun at another , advance with trigger in trigger guard toward them- in my presence. I didn't have to present Mr. Commander...but I did stop an immediate threat. I mean I stopped it immediatly. Persons banned from range, and hunting with us folks. Still give me wide berth, either they know I don't forget, or the usual item on my person. I don't care either way.

Dave McCracken
December 29, 2003, 06:03 AM
Thanks, folks. A coupla things...

First, I can suffer fools if not gladly, but jerks reach the limits of my tolerance quickly. My friend was a young corporate lawyer at the time, the place was owned in part by him, and Mr Personality was a big client. For my friend's sake, I reined in my choler.

The hunting made Mr P easier to take. 160 acres of farmland enriched with some food plots and stocked in the summer with quail and ringnecks.By hunting season, they were as wild as natives and abundant. Even with Mr P hogging shots, we limited in 2 hours.

And Mr P was never quite unsafe. He was an annoyance rather than a hazard.BTW, he shot a nice SxS and looked like a model from the Orvis catalog. I probably had on redneck/biker togs and toted Frankenstein. Obvious differences in lifestyle and approach.

I hunted with other clients of my friend here and in general they ranged from acceptable to darn nice folks. One rotten apple and all that.

A different jerk who was unsafe on another occasion took a whipping and had his rifle confiscated by yours truly.

Y'all bring up good stuff.

As for preaching to the choir, this is a 101 thread and what we veterans may know HAS to be mentioned to newbies.

Let's see what else comes up on this....

December 29, 2003, 07:09 AM
It was your choice to stay in the field with him!

December 29, 2003, 09:30 AM
Over the years I have learned that when shooting with a new group you should pay close attention, smile alot, and keep your mouth shut.

December 29, 2003, 10:10 AM

If you see somebody doing something dangerous and don’t say something, you’re not doing your part.

December 29, 2003, 10:23 AM
If more people would just deck another man right in the mouth when he deserved it there would be a lot more people acting like decent human beings and a lot less type "A" behavior.

Granted. But you're also opening yourself up to assualt charges.
And I hardly think that is the high road. Ignore fools and gunsels (especially the type A folks) that really burns them up.

Most Type A people are reasonably intelligent folks and some can be fairly perceptive. COld sholders, hard looks, and if necessary a good dressing down will solve the problem, if he doesn't feel welcome, he won't come back.

While a good right cross to the pie hole would be extremely satisfying to the giver, and might even be warranted to the receiver, it usually causes more harm than it fixes.


December 29, 2003, 12:54 PM
..and will that be St Dave or St David???
You have far more .. more .. more everything than I do. I'd have been gone. And I would have expalined to my friend later.. and ask that I never have to be within 20k of the knuckle-head again.

December 29, 2003, 04:27 PM
Dave -- Another excellent post. Thank you!

December 29, 2003, 06:21 PM
Dave, reminds me of when I was a kid and my family was hunting with a certain unsafe jerk. My dad pointed out to the man that we were in the middle of nowhere, and if he had a "hunting accident", it would be years before the body would be found. :) Got his attention, thats for sure.

I've been nailed by other hunters. No real damage done, except for one shot that hit me in the back, and this is while I was on top of a haystack kicking bales down to a trailer. I was shot by somebody hunting across the road. I don't know what the load was but we were picking pellets out of my back for a little while. Not pleasant at all.

Dave McCracken
December 29, 2003, 08:36 PM
308, so it was. Again, I hung in there for my friend's sake. If Mr P had been clearly unsafe, I would have spoken once, then left for the truck carrying his shotgun as well as my own on second offense. Life's too short for unnecessary risks OR jerk behavior.

Majic, that applies to older groups also.

ysr, too true.

Smoke, this guy was too much in love with himself for subtleties. Kicking his butt would have been satisfying, but you cite the downside. Still, he made my knuckles itch. a common psychosomatic disorder among old Rollers.

Cavtroop- No claim to sainthood, not even Eagle Scout.

Ready, you're welcome.

Corriea, count your blessings. If you had faced the other way things could have been MUCH worse.

December 29, 2003, 10:08 PM
Dave - The situation you've described is one reason why I don't like "business" hunts. During a round of golf, if the client/boss/whatever is a jerk, it's no big deal. When firearms are in use, there needs to be no reason for pause when pointing out unsafe or inappropriate behavior.

In fact, I've had the good fortune of never having a truly bad member of a hunting party. A big reason for this is that I only hunt with close friends and those people for whom they are willing to personally vouch. Cuts down on the idiot pool dramatically.

With respect to unsafe gun handling, I always watch new (to me) shooters very carefully. At the slightest hint of unsafe behavior, I will gently correct them. Since reasonable people WANT to be safe, that's almost always enough. In one case, I had to take a guy aside and talk to him. I did it matter of factly... not in anger... but firmly. He wasn't a problem the rest of the day. In fact, I've hunted with him a couple times since then, and he's been fine.

FWIW, most of the Rule #2 violations I've seen come from experienced hunters at the end of a long day, when they start getting a little ragged. I view that as a sign that we need to call it quits and head back to the truck.

BTW, almost without exception, my friends and I pool the day's bag, to make sure that everyone goes home with something to eat.

Dave McCracken
December 30, 2003, 05:58 AM
TR, 99% of the folks I've hunted and shot with have been civil and safe. I too watch shooters of unknown ability and safety, and speak privately to them if it's needed. Most mend ways instantly.

I've pooled the bag, and also given away birds to make sure everyone took home meat.

The big thing, of course, is to make absolutely sure one's own conduct is beyond reproach.

Captain Bligh
December 30, 2003, 06:56 AM
I've hunted with a bunch of different guys in my life. Most folks I've had the privilege to meet I've been willing to hunt with repeatedly. Every once is a while someone comes along that either scares me to be with because of unsafe gun handling or makes me angry because of poor field ettiquette. We have all hunted with that person at some time or other. But, I never hunt with those folks a second time. I've also aborted some hunts. Life is just too short to take a risk in the field of someone that you don't trust or who is making you so mad you can't see straight. Live to hunt another day.


December 30, 2003, 07:09 AM
Dave You are right on when you say one's own conduct must be behond reproach. I would feel comfortable betting that if your friend has Mr Big for a client he (a) wishes he didn't, (b) can never satisfy him and (c) routinely has problems with collections/slow pay or writes off fees. (I managed a consulting practice for 20 years for a Big 8 firm and I can spot the profile a mile away.)

December 30, 2003, 08:36 AM
308 - Your description of client behavior is bringing back some serious flashbacks from my "previous life". :banghead: In fact, the sweats and eye twitch started to come back, until I remembered that I'm not doing that anymore.


December 30, 2003, 11:35 AM
I decided to answer publicly a PM as to why I "handled" my previous post in the manner I did. Alcohol was involved both times.

The Dad of a young man, was drunk. He was not shooting this tourney but instead "coaching" his son. Well actually he was asked to leave the viewing area by the Ref and another Ref and club admin. He was not helping his son, and really making a seen ,even to the point of bothering other fields and presenting a real hazard. He was "asked" politely to leave ( be driven home). He returned and grabbed his son's gun and literally went at the Ref and Club admin. He later threatened me, because I was on his kids squad ( again) and again outshot his kid. I ran up against the Dad elswewhere for awhile hitting the various ranges...he just leered from a distance. I always had someone watch my six. Everyone knew the story and the bad blood,lots of folks watching my back when I shot.

Second incident : "Client" of a friend showed up drunk...or had never stopped drinking from the the night before. Attitude, daddy's money...and didn't like the fact he couldn't do things his way. Again he loaded up his O/U and made threatening move on another.

I have no problem if AFTER a hunt/range a cool one is enjoyed after the guns are put up safely. I have walked 2 miles in waders because of a fifth of bourbon in chest waders and looking down the bbl of a loaded 10 ga didn't set well with me. I left, I huffed and puffed on muddy farm roads, to my vehicle , changed clothes and left. Never ever shot with that man, that bunch,or that farm again. I won't either.

December 30, 2003, 12:07 PM
Yep. Booze and shooting should not mix.

Dave McCracken
December 30, 2003, 04:07 PM
Captain, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. Life's too short to deal with idiots and jerks.

308, said friend now teaches instead. He's in Ohio. Last missive from him said the lowered stress more than made up for the lowered income.

sm, you ran across a left hand threaded, seven sided nut. Glad no one bled.

Had a guy invite himself along on a deer hunt. One of my buddies worked for his dad. By noon he had....

Brought a Savage 99 to a shotgun only area.

Emptied same at a buck and didn't follow up at all.

Had a nip or 12 to keep the cold off. He had trouble walking a straight line.

And got his butt nicely whipped by yours truly. I DIDN'T work for his dad.

Never saw him again.Sent the Savage to his dad with a note why. No response. Life's too short....

January 27, 2004, 11:25 PM
A question about "being peppered". Are you guys talking about a fairly direct shot, or one that goes up in the air, and falls down at relatively low velocity?

I have not done a lot of bird hunting, but on my one-and-only dove hunting outing, I was rained on a fair amount by small shot, and told not to worry about it.

Thanks in advance for the clarification.


P.S. Ain't dove hunting great? You get to shoot a lot and the only thing you have to clean is the shotgun! Doves are apparently covered in Kevlar!

Dave McCracken
January 28, 2004, 06:24 AM
Perhaps sprinkled's a better word. In my case, not enough energy left to sting, but it's glad I was that I had glasses and hat in place. Eyes are still not replaceable.

Dove hunting is great. Great practice in shooting and great practice in humility.

January 28, 2004, 07:22 AM
My humble .02 - if you are getting peppered or sprinkled, there are either too many hunters, hunters too close together, or careless hunters.

One of the most aggravating experiences when duck/goose hunting is having another party shoot your swings and pepper you at the same time - we had that happen several times by the party in the next blind until we went over and chatted them up. Promises were made, lets leave it at that.

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