Novice shooters and shotguns

Not to long ago I was working at an event geared toward helping people who have little to no firearm knowledge or experience.

Looking back at, and most of the other similar events I have been at I noticed at how much new shooters tended to prefer the shotgun.

Before they ever fire the shotgun, often the various people running or helping at these events will explain how you don’t need to aim, that the sound of racking a shotgun will scare off any intruder, and how the massive power of the shotgun can blast a grown man across a room.  Then these novices proceed to fire a couple shots of birdshot at close ranges absolutely shredding these paper targets.  When they go to try a rifle or pistol, it is fired at far longer ranges with no feedback as to hits or misses.

Now don’t get me wrong, the shotgun is a devastating effective weapon with the right ammunition and it may be the right choice as a home weapon for many of these novices.  That said I think the combination of bad advice along with firing these very light loads at very close paper targets gives a false sense of effectiveness.  I also think that new shooter when firing any weapon should be given some sort of reactive target(be it steel swingers, clay pigeons, balloons, shoot and see targets, etc) so they can see that they are hitting the target.  That way they can also receive coaching if they are missing.  A new shooting firing at a paper target at 25+ yards often has no idea if they are hitting or not, and will receive no help to correct problems if they are missing.

I remember one church group I was the Range Officer for; the minister showed off to his congregation his pistol grip only shotgun and explain how it was perfect for home defense and you don’t even need to aim it.  He then proceeded to fire a shot from the hip that impacted about 10 feet above his target.

When there are people new to shooting, we need to prepare them for success, not failure.