Do You Own a Shotgun? Let’s Find How To Aim A Shotgun
Finding the right stance and getting comfortable with aiming is something that all new shooters have to go through. It’s a fun process – it allows for a bit of personalization and flare to come into the sport.
When I first started hunting with my dad and uncle and a kid, it took me several times of going to the range and trying out new positions. Once I became comfortable, I began honing my aim.
While much of it is about feeling, there are some general guidelines to follow. Here are some tips for how to aim a shotgun.
Learning the Proper Stance
Spend any time hanging out at a gun range and you’ll likely see some interesting stances. Some stand straight and tall, others do weird things with their arms. My favorite is the old guy who stands with his feet super far apart – maybe he’s worried about knocking himself over when he takes a shot?
- The best stance that will allow you to aim your shotgun easily is to put your feet between armpit length and shoulder-length apart. Much further than that and you’re lowering your line of vision and not optimizing for the best balance points. Closer together and you’re liable to blow yourself over on kickback.
- Just over half of your weight should be on the front foot. Not too much, because you want to remain balanced and stable. But enough that your momentum is slightly forward. If too much is on the back foot, you’ll find that you shoot over the top a lot because you’re leaning back when the shot is taken.
- Stand at a 45-degree angle to the target. This allows for comfortable and proper shotgun positioning.
- I always recommend shooters do a bit of rocking back and forth. Lightly lift the toes in the process. This familiarizes you with the stance.
- This video here goes over the basics to know how to aim a shotgun.
Finding your ‘Point of Aim’
Here is where a shooter can put a bit of their personal vibe into their shooting stance and shotgun aim.
Now you’re in your stance and working on the rocking motion. If you haven’t already been doing so, hold the gun in a shooting position during the rocking process. Notice where you feel most comfortable during the rock.
Likely, it will be right about where 55-60% of the weight is on the front foot. Once you’ve identified this position, STOP!
That is your natural point of aim. The object with this term, as it relates to how to aim a shotgun, is that this is the angle where you’ll shoot the target. This is where the bullseye will be directly in front, or where the clay will be broken by your bullet.
It’s important to remember that you’re not shooting a rifle. Don’t stand fully sideways with the gun near the shoulder. I prefer to have the stance a bit more open here.
Keep it flexible and position your head
When aiming your shotgun, the goal is to be able to shoot in more than one direction without becoming uncomfortable or urged to reset yourself. Make sure you are able to comfortably position your head above the barrel and hone in on the line of site.
- I urge shooters to rock a bit every time they get settled into the stance. Come to the same final position the same way every time. Eventually it will be a habit.
- Don’t pull your head off the stock. The shot should hit wherever the eyes are pointed. If you find yourself looking down at the barrel, or left-to-right or vice versa, focus on keeping your eyes and head positioned correctly.
- Keep your feet planted when turning, and move with your upper body. Going back to the whole flexibility thing, following and aiming at a moving target should be an easy thing to do. It shouldn’t require you to jerk yourself around in a circle.
- Don’t close your eyes. Train yourself to keep both eyes open during the shot. Depth perception is as important as anything else in relation to how to aim a shotgun.
- Work on the mount and positioning on the shoulder. It shouldn’t be a painful thing when you pull the trigger. Slide the gun back and forth until you’re able to find a comfortable position.
- Here is some advice on leading your target.
Aiming a shotgun is really about making the gun a part of your body. If it isn’t a natural stance, you’re never going to feel comfortable as a shooter. The right point of aim for you is the one that allows the most flexibility without compromising any sturdiness or power. Remember the rocking motion. I’ve been hunting for over fifty years now and still rock into my stance every single time.
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If you’ve enjoyed this article, I urge you to share it on social media to help others get accustomed to finding the best possible stance and aiming their shotgun correctly. Feel free to leave any tips here in the comments, I’m always game for upping the ante a bit!
Featured Image via Torrey Wiley