Home Defense Preparation For Shotgunners, by Dave McCracken

First, know your weapon well enough that you can make it function SAFELY in near total darkness at zero dark 30 with a warm liquid running down your leg, 15 seconds out of a deep sleep, because you may have to. This requires regular use, thought out practice, and a mindset not often found in "Civilized" places. You're out to win; as Bill Jordan said,there's "No second place winner" here.

Regular use is the only way to achieve expertise. Lack of expertise will kill you.

And knowing your weapon means knowing how much spread will occur at the longest shot opportunity possible in your house using your "Duty" load. I recommend measuring the longest distance possible in your house, adding a yard, then checking the pattern at that range. Most likely, the load will make one ragged hole. In other words, a defense shotgun NEEDS to be aimed. Choice of that load is covered elsewhere on the internet. Choose that load with an eye to what's past any target, through walls and doors. All shotgun ammo is very effective at room range.

Second, know your house.It's rare that it's a good idea to clear your house, usually it's best to hold a position at a strong point and wait for the cavalry to arrive.

With a shotgun KNOWN TO BE EMPTY, a walkthrough will turn up any possible weak points, strong points and problem areas in your house. Of course, you do have window locks, outside lights, charley bars etc, right? Note what areas and positions may require working from the support side, what may give cover to you or an adversary. Now try it from the other end, imagine you're the invader and see how and where you can move safely or not. Keep in mind, that while you are practicing self-defense, there is a thin line between that and criminal offense. To get a clearer understanding, seek out someone who has a criminology masters degree.

Third, let's go shooting...

Any use of a shotgun will aid you gain that expertise. Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays, informal clays with a hand trap, hunting, "Practical" matches, etc, can all help. Shoot safely and often. And have fun!

Here's a couple drills strictly for home defense practice.Try light loads at first, then "Duty" ammo as you improve. Of course, use eye and ear protection, and be safe.

Have some laths ready, and some clay targets. Drive or stick the laths in the ground, and tape or hang the clays about 4 ft off the deck. Pace off the distance to your longest shot opportunity, and load up. Have someone give a signal and time you.

From whatever condition you keep your shotgun in whan stored ready and a ready stance, bust a clay. Return the shotgun to that ready condition and repeat until time runs about 2 seconds. Repeat several times, slowing down if you miss and trying to get the move smoother, not faster.

Keep returning the shotgun to ready condition EVERY time. When this is nicely grooved in, stop for a moment and breathe deeply. Now run in place until you can feel your pulse pounding to simulate an adrenaline inducing situation. Repeat the drill a few times until you're able to duplicate your times and hits.

Next,try it with two separate clays on different laths. First from a relaxed state, then from the elevated state.

When you feel like this is grooved in, do it from the support side.

Why use clays? Instant gratification, seeing those things bust. This serves as reinforcement and aids learning. The small size helps focus.

Do not move into this next drill until you're comfortable with doing the first two, This is much harder. Go for smoothness first, speed will come.

Have your shooting partner stand behind you and either somewhat to the right or left. Without warning, have him hand throw a clay like a Frisbee in front of you. Bust it. Have him move back and forth behind you, throwing the clay without your foreknowledge from various angles. Again,start from ready condition.

When you get good at this, have your partner throw one, then a second on report. When you can obliterate one target, acquire another and bust that one also, you'll be well on your way.


Dave McCracken is a corrections officer, has been shotgunning longer than many shooters have been alive. He regularly posts on TheHighRoad.org and TheFiringLine.com. This article is reprinted here with his permission; reprinting or redistributing this article without his permission is expressly prohibited.

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