Shooting Shotguns

Generally it is said you aim a rifle, you point a shotgun. In “wing shooting,” firing at a flying target, swinging the shotgun smoothly through the target is an important technique to develop.

Shotgun stance

Your stance is the first thing to consider. Your feet should be roughly shoulder Shotgun stance - feet width apart, the forward foot should point to the spot you want to hit the target, with the rear foot at roughly a 45 degree angle. Your posture should be forward, on the balls of both feet with 60 to 70 percent of your weight on the forward foot, knees slightly bent.

When shouldering the shotgun, you should move it smoothly to your cheek, then snuggly into your shoulder. Do not hunch down to the stock. The other contrast to rifle shooting is trigger pull. With rifles you gradually pointing index finger supporting shotgunsqueeze the trigger. With shotguns, it is said that you “slap” the trigger. Cheek and shoulder position of shotgunFollow through is critically important in wing shooting, the barrel should not stop to shoot.

With your supporting hand, pointing with your index finger can help you point to the target as you swing.


Shotgun Shooting Styles

Swing arc for wing shooting

Sustained Lead

  1. Point the shotgun ahead of the game
  2. Swing at the same speed along the flight line of the target
  3. Fire
  4. Keep swinging after the shot

Swing through Lead

  1. Follow the flight path of the game until the firearm muzzle passes it
  2. Pull the trigger
  3. Continue the swing after the shot

Shotgun Target Practice

High school students practice shootingShooting shotguns is a fun sport that anybody can enjoy. Going out to the range is a great way to spend time with family and friends. With good instruction and practice you can become a good shot and more successful hunter.

There are a variety of ranges where you can practice shooting shotguns. They employ machines that launch clay targets into the air. These include trap, skeet, five stand and sporting clays. Trying the different range styles allows shotgun shooters a chance to shoot at a variety of angles, simulating different shots that game may present when you are hunting.

Sporting clays launcher

Firearms safety is paramount at shotgun ranges, like any firearm shooting range. Load the shotgun only when it is your turn to fire and you have assumed the firing station from the previous shooter. After firing, keep your action open and the gun unloaded. Keep the muzzle pointed downrange, don’t rest the shotgun on the toe or pointing back over your shoulder. Wear your hearing and eye protection at all times.Student shooter aiming at clays

Obey all posted rules and the directions of the Range Master.

Many students in Texas, both boys and girls, have the opportunity to participate in the shotgun shooting sports program through the Texas Agriculture Science Clay Target Shooting program.

Youth shotgun shooting practice with instructor Youth at shotgun practice shooting range

Patterning Shotguns

Each shotgun has its own individual performance. Two 12 gauge shotguns with full chokes, shooting the same type of shotshells, can deliver a different pattern on a target at a set distance. It is therefore wise to pattern your shotgun before you hunt, to find the right combination of shotshell and choke level that will deliver the most effective pattern for the distance where you will be hunting a particular type of game.

aiming shotgun at paper target

To pattern a shotgun, set a target of at least 30 inches wide at the distance where you are confident hunting a particular game animal. For quail, you may pattern at 20 to 25 yards, for turkey you may pattern at 40 yards. Aim for the center of the target and fire one shot. Put up a new target and try a different type of shotshell or a different choke level. Compare the two targets.

Finding the right combination that will deliver the best dispersal of shot at a particular distance will allow you to predict how your shotgun will perform later when you are out in the field hunting.

Watch a video on Shooting Sports Opportunities