The videos on this page deal with shooting shotguns. Following the displayed videos is a brief description of shotguns and their uses. You may click here to proceed directly to read the text.
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About Shotguns in General
A shotgun (also known as a scattergun and peppergun, or historically as a fowling piece) is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot, or a solid projectile called a slug. Shotguns come in a wide variety of types and in a range of firearm operating mechanisms, including breech loading, single-barreled, double or combination gun, pump-action, bolt-, and lever-action, semi-automatic, and even fully automatic variants. The size of the shot shells range in diameter from 10 gauage (largest) to 12 gauage, 16 gauge, 20 gauage and .410 inches (smallest).
A shotgun is generally a smoothbore firearm, which means that the inside of the barrel is not rifled with a spiral groove like rifles and handguns which shoot bullets. Preceding smoothbore firearms, such as the musket, were widely used by armies in the 18th century. The direct ancestor to the shotgun, the blunderbuss, was also used in a similar variety of roles from self defence to riot control. It was often used by cavalry troops due to its generally shorter length and ease of use, as well as by coachmen for its substantial power. However, in the 19th century, these weapons were largely replaced on the battlefield with breechloading rifled firearms, which were more accurate over longer ranges. The military value of shotguns was rediscovered in the First World War, when American forces used 12-gauge pump action shotguns in close-quarters trench fighting to great effect. Since then, it has been used in a variety of roles in civilian, law enforcement, and military applications.
The shot pellets from a shotgun spread upon leaving the barrel, and the power of the burning charge is divided among the pellets, which means that the energy of any one ball of shot is fairly low. In a hunting context, this makes shotguns useful primarily for hunting birds and other small game. However, in a military or law enforcement context, the large number of projectiles makes the shotgun useful as a close quarters combat weapon or a defensive weapon. Shotguns are also used for target shooting sports such as skeet, trap, and sporting clays. These involve shooting clay disks, known as clay pigeons, thrown in various ways.
Uses of Shotguns
The typical use of a shotgun is against small and fast moving targets, often while in the air. The spreading of the shot allows the user to point the shotgun close to the target, rather than having to aim precisely as in the case of a single projectile. The disadvantages of shot are limited range and limited penetration of the shot, which is why shotguns are used at short ranges, and typically against smaller targets. Larger shot sizes, up to the extreme case of the single projectile slug load, result in increased penetration, but at the expense of fewer projectiles and lower probability of hitting the target.
Aside from the most common use against small, fast moving targets, the shotgun has several advantages when used against still targets. First, it has enormous stopping power at short range, more than nearly all handguns and many rifles. Though many believe the shotgun is a great firearm for inexperienced shooters, the truth is, at close range, the spread of shot is not very large at all, and competency in aiming is still required. A typical self-defense load of buckshot contains 8-27 large lead pellets, resulting in many wound tracks in the target. Also, unlike a fully jacketed rifle bullet, each pellet of shot is less likely to penetrate walls and hit bystanders. It is favored by law enforcement for its low penetration and high stopping power.
On the other hand, the hit potential of a defensive shotgun is often overstated. The typical defensive shot is taken at very close ranges, at which the shot charge expands no more than a few centimeters. This means the shotgun must still be aimed at the target with some care. Balancing this is the fact that shot spreads further upon entering the target, and the multiple wound channels of a defensive load are far more likely to produce a disabling wound than a rifle or handgun.
Sporting uses of Shotguns
Vincent Hancock in the men's skeet finals at the 2008 Summer OlympicsSome of the most common uses of shotguns are the sports of skeet shooting, trap shooting, and sporting clays. These involve shooting clay discs, also known as clay pigeons, thrown in by hand and by machine. Both skeet and trap competitions are featured at the Olympic Games.
Hunting uses of Shotguns
The shotgun is very popular for bird hunting, it is also used for more general forms of hunting especially in semi-populated areas where the range of rifle bullets may pose a hazard. Use of a smooth bore shotgun with a rifled slug or, alternatively, a rifled barrel shotgun with a sabot slug, improves accuracy to 100 m (110 yd) or more. This is well within the range of the majority of kill shots by experienced hunters using shotguns.
However, given the relatively low muzzle velocity of slug ammunition, typically around 500 m/s (about 1600 feet per second), and the blunt, poorly streamlined shape of typical slugs (which cause them to lose velocity very rapidly, compared to rifle bullets), a hunter must pay close attention to the ballistics of the particular ammunition used to ensure an effective and humane kill shot.
At any reasonable range, shotgun slugs make effective lethal wounds due to their tremendous mass, reducing the length of time that an animal might suffer. For example, a typical 12 gauge shotgun slug is a blunt piece of metal that could be described as an 18 mm (.729 inch) caliber that weighs 28 grams (432 grains). For comparison, a common deer-hunting rifle round is a 7.62 mm (.308 inch) slug weighing 9.7 grams (150 grains), but the dynamics of the rifle cartridge allow for a different type of wound, and a much further reach.
Shotguns are often used with rifled barrels in locations where it is not lawful to hunt with a rifle. Typically, a sabot slug is used in these barrels for maximum accuracy and performance. Shotguns are often used to hunt whitetail deer in the thick brush and briers of the Southeastern and upper Midwestern United States, where, due to the dense cover, ranges tend to be very close - 25 m or less.
Sabot slugs are essentially very large hollowpoint bullets, and are streamlined for maximum spin and accuracy when shot through a rifled barrel. They have greater ranges than older Foster and Brenneke-type slugs.
Law Enforcement uses of Shotguns
In the US and Canada, shotguns are widely used as a support weapon by police forces. One of the rationales for issuing shotguns is that, even without much training, an officer will probably be able to hit targets at close to intermediate range, due to the "spreading" effect of buckshot. This is largely a myth, as the spread of buckshot at 25 feet averages 8 inches, which is still capable of missing a target. Some police forces are replacing shotguns in this role with carbine rifles such as AR-15s. Shotguns are also used in roadblock situations, where police are blocking a highway to search cars for suspects. In the US, law enforcement agencies often use riot shotguns, especially for crowd and riot control where they may be loaded with less-lethal rounds such as rubber bullets or bean bags. Shotguns are also often used as breaching devices to defeat locks.
Military uses of Shotguns
Shotguns are common weapons in military use, particularly for special purposes. Shotguns are found aboard naval vessels for shipboard security, because the weapon is very effective at close range as a way of repelling enemy boarding parties. In a naval setting, stainless steel shotguns are often used, because regular steel is more prone to corrosion in the marine environment. Shotguns are also used by military police units. U.S. Marines have used shotguns since their inception at the squad level, often in the hands of NCOs, while the U.S. Army often issued them to a squad's point man. Shotguns were modified for and used in the trench warfare of WWI, in the jungle combat of WWII and Vietnam and are being used today in Iraq, being popular with soldiers and marines in urban combat environments. Some U.S. units in Iraq use shotguns with special frangible breaching rounds to blow the locks off doors when they are making a surprise entry into a dwelling.
Home and personal defense uses of Shotguns
Shotguns are a very popular means of home defense for many of the same reasons they are preferred for close-quarters tasks in law enforcement and the military.