About Shotgun Hunting
Shotgun hunting is usually associated with wingshooting, but you can hunt big game with a shotgun successfully, too - sometimes even more successfully than with a rifle. When hunting smaller animals, such as duikers, suni, and other members of the “Tiny Ten” in Africa, for example, most shots are taken at a close range in dense jungle, and a handful of buckshot gives a better chance to connect with the target. Even with bigger game such as a wild boar, when you have to shoot quickly at a close range, especially at a running target, a shotgun will be handier and quicker than most rifles, and a heavy solid slug at a close range has incredible stopping power. Many Afrian PHs take a shotgun with buckshot even to track down wounded leopards! In some American states the use of rifles is limited because of safety concerns, and hunters have to use “short” range weapons, such as handguns, muzzleloaders, and archery gear, many hunters prefer a shotgun. Many special “slugster” models are produced specially for this type of hunting. They typically have rifle sights, iron or scope, fully rifled barrels or rifle chokes (a.k.a. Paradox), and sometimes look and feel like real rifles. With special ammunition, these “shotguns” can be accurate up to 150 or even 200 yards. Some European gunmakers produce special “battue” versions of their shotguns, with shorter and sometimes rifled barrels, and special iron sights for quick but accurate aiming, or red dot sights. But of course the shotgun is the weapon of choice for any bird hunter and many small-game hunters. Throwing out a cloud of small shot pellets from a smooth barrel makes it easy to do what would be extremely difficult to do with a rifle - connect with a flying bird or a running small animal. In many parts of the world a shotgun is the default hunting weapon, and if limited to just one gun, many hunters would choose a shotgun over a rifle. The range of a shotgun is determined by the spread of the shot, known as the “pattern”. As it leaves the muzzle, the shot flies basically like a bullet, and only at a certain distance pellets spread wide enough to make hitting the target easier, and avoid “plastering”, or destroying the bird by hitting it with too many pellets. At the end of the usable range the pellets spread too much apart to guarantee a certain kill. The range can be varied by the way the ammo is loaded, and by the construction of the barrel, namely a constriction at its end known as “choke”, and ranges from 10 to 20 yards for the so-called “spreader” short-range loads, to about 20-45 yards with “full” and “extra full” choke barrels. Read more...
Unlike rifle shooting, shotgun shooting is less about trigger control and being steady, and more about the skill of swinging with the whole body, and hitting the trigger as the gun swings a bit ahead of the target, with the muzzle pointed not at where the bird is now, but where it will be after the time that it takes the shot to travel the distance. A good shotgun should feel like a natural extension of your body, and correct alignment of the barrel to your eye depends on the dimensions of the stock. World’s best (and most expensive) gunmakers even include the price of a “gun fitting” session, that allows them to match the stock dimensions to your individual physique, into the price. Shotguns come in many forms and shapes, but most are light enough to be carried all day in your arms, and capable of firing two, three, or more shots without reloading, either having two barrels in a side-by-side or over-and-under combinations, or with a magazine and semiautomatic, pump, or lever-action reloading. Shotgun lovers can argue forever about double versus semi/pump. This comes down to what you need more: an option to have two different chokes or loads versus a third shot. But whatever you choose, it can’t be denied that with a shotgun you can have a great time hunting! Hide details
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