How to have fun with a shotgun?

I recently got a shotgun, a Remington 870 12 Gauge with a 26-inch barrel. This is my first firearm and I feel that I need to practice so I’m comfortable with it. I very much don’t want to fear it as much as learn respect for its capabilities.

Before the piles of warnings flow in, it is stored unloaded with a trigger lock & the ammunition is stored in a locked metal toolbox.

I got a case of game loads just for learning purposes. What’s my options for play-as-practice?


Buncha damn kids, always playing on my lawn …

Shooting skeet is probably the most fun thing that you can do and it can teach you good, instinctive shooting skills. Any sporting goods store will have boxes of skeet and a hand thrower for a nominal price. Automatic throwers are much better but you will probably have to go to a shooting club to get access to one.

Start out with a lightly loaded target shotgun shell because anything with more umph will make you cry after just a few rounds and make you scared of it.

Belrix go to frys or safeway or where ever you get your groceries and pick up a watermelon, apples, etc…etc… you get the picture. And then have some real fun. It will also be a good deterent for you to see what the 12 gauge can do to a fleshy substance. Always practice the strictest gun safety…At all times.

Don’t go to and order anything.

It might score high on the fun scale, but it’d definitely also be very scary.

I’d like to second Shagnast on the skeet suggestion.

Your skils will improve rapidly right from the beginning. It may be a bit frustrating at first, so hook up with someone from your local club who knows what he’s doing and can give you some pointers. You’ll learn the whole package (general gun handling, etc.) not just accuracy.

If you practice for a while starting with the gun low and mounting it into your swing, the whole skill set is also perfect for upland wingshooting and other games like sporting clays.

All of that’s on top of the fact that skeet is a whacking great lot of fun all by itself.

Won’t someone please think of the skeet! :eek:

I’ve always wanted to try sporting clays, myself. For the uninitiated, it’s kind of a cross between skeet shooting and golf.

A fun and interesting thing to do with your shotgun is to “pattern” it. This will teach you how your particular shotgun shoots with different shotshells. You can usually obtain large rolls of paper at your local newspaper printing shop. They sometimes sell “end rolls” for a few bucks, and there is always quite a bit of paper left on the tube. Using this large-size paper as a target, fire from different ranges to see the effect of the choke on various brands and sizes of shot. Just be sure you place the targets in a safe area with nothing behind them. The ideal situation might be to place the targets in front of a hillside; that way, you will be sure that your pellets don’t harm anything behind the target. Just for the pure heck of it, you might want to see how accurate your shotgun would be when shooting slugs. In this case, put a water-filled plastic gallon milk jug in front of the hillside and step back fifty yards. The bonus here is that you’ll get a visual representation of the power inherent in the impact of a shotgun slug. Hopefully, you’ll find one or more brands of shotshells and slugs that provide adequate accuracy. Another good thing to do, although maybe not considered fun by everyone, is to learn how to “field strip” your firearm for cleaning and minor repair work. Knowing how to replace the magazine spring and follower, how to clean your barrel from the chamber end, and where to apply lubrication will not only increase your knowledge of your firearm, it will prolong the useful life of your investment.

We always filled up soda bottles (any size) with water, and shot them when I was a kid.

They kind of explode!!!

Except that a pump gun ain’t much good for skeet. Awful difficult to hit two birds in the air at the same time with a pump gun. I suggest trap to start with. Here’s a good site contrasting the two sports. You’ll wanna use trap loads in your gun, too. They are a “lighter” load in the shorter 2¾ inch shell - much less punishing to shoot, especially when you consider that, at minimum, you’ll be taking 25 shots (25 shots/round of trap) and generally, at a single outing, you’ll wanna shoot several rounds (a round of trap only costs a few bucks + shells, which are fairly inexpensive, too).

You should also consider getting a “full” choke to replace the “modified” that comes with that gun, especially since you have a shorter barrel than is generally preferred for trap. A full choke produces a tighter shot pattern as the pellets fly farther down range; this will allow you to take a bit time when tracking birds in the air. In addition to that, you’ll want some ear plugs (and maybe set of muffs - I don’t care for 'em when shooting trap as they can get in the way) and a shell pouch with at least two compartments (one for unfired and one for fired shells).

You shouldn’t have much trouble find a trap & skeet range around Denver. Ask the guys at any sporting goods store that sells shooting supplies. And when you go to shoot, sit and watch the other people when you’re not shooting, talk to them before and afterwards. You can even ask someone who is shooting well to watch you and advise you after the rounds - most people are more than willing to help a novice. Make sure you’re familiar with all loading, unloading and safety mechanisms on the gun before you head you head to the range.

Some simple pointers to get you started. Step up to the line. Stand with your feet slightly apart, your left foot (assuming you are right-handed) about a foot’s length in front of the right one and pointed towards the center of the trap house. With the action “open,” insert and chamber a shell and release the safety (if you need to); you should only ever have a single shell in the gun at any time. Now mount the gun; tuck it in tight to your right shoulder, cheek down on the stock and sight down the barrel and over the bead with your left eye. Keep your right elbow up so that your arm is parallel to the ground. Take a deep breath and when ready say “Pull,” loudly enough so that the scorer can hear you (he’s above and behind you on the tower). As the bird rises out of the trap house, swing smoothly across it’s trajectory from the hips, NOT the arms. When you’re “leading” it slightly, pull the trigger (don’t jerk at the trigger, use a squeezing action). Cycle the action to extract the spent shell and leave it “open”. Pick up your empty shell and place it in your shell pouch (It’s best to try to catch the empty as it comes out of the receiver). Take a couple steps back so as not to distract the shooter next to you. Prepare for your next shot.

Enjoy! And practice. It’s not a difficult sport to be fairly decent at, but to excell it can be quite demanding.

Above suggestions are good. Not to harp on it, but I would first suggest memorizing Jeff Cooper’s Four Safety Rules. Do not even touch your firearm unless these are memorized word-for-word.

My favorite shotgun activity is blasting away at fruit. The best time of year to do this is late fall when pumpkins are free.

Cans of shaving cream.

I once had a lot of fun with a TV set nobody wanted.

Stand far away - those suckers seriously explode. :smiley:

Shoot cans

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

That is the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life. I want one!

Skeet. Best way to practice getting coordinated with the firearm. I teach skeet shooting in the summer, and that is, by far (only IMHO), the fastest way to become efficient and effective with a shotgun.

Some people I knew in high school would empty all the shot out of shotgun shells, pack them with wadded up bits of paper, and hunt each other with them. If you have any kids you could do that and have them pretend to be deer or something, running around in your yard while you take shots at them. Make them wear thick clothing, though.

That’s a mighty fine idea but where is he supposed to get little fake antlers that will fit a kid and won’t fall off while they are running around?

If the OP doen’t have any kids of his own, he could just borrow the neighbors. They don’t have to know that they are playing a game beforehand. As a matter of fact, it would be a much better hunting simulation if he stalked them and then let’er rip.

That sounds like great fun, but am I alone in thinking that encouraging people to shoot each other (even with paper instead of shot) MIGHT not be the best firearm safety lesson? Don’t know how it works in other states, but here in CA, you have to take a hunter’s safety class before you can buy a gun or get a hunting license. I’d recommend taking one even if it’s not required…only about 5 hours and was pretty enjoyable, at least when I took it, and had some good advice. I’d recommend shooting some random junk (fruit, water bottles) before trying any trap, just so you have a feel for the gun. Also, if you have any friends that shoot, go with them. When I shoot, a fair amount of time is spent standing around shooting the breeze, so having friends is a major plus. Have fun and be safe.