After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Class

Training questions, approaches and reports

Moderator: ZS Global Moderators

Post Reply
User avatar
Jeriah
ZS Lifetime Member
ZS Lifetime Member
Posts: 18722
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:12 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead 04, and 28 Days Later are my top three, in that order.
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact:

After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Class

Post by Jeriah » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:40 am

Range Master: Cress.

Very few first timers; most had taken pistol previously.

Weapons present: lots of conventional pump guns (Remington 870, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 590, and at least one H&R Pardner Pump), lots of tube-fed semi-autos (Benelli, Remington 1170, maybe a Mossberg 930 or whatever it's called), and one Kel-Tec KSG. The KSG required some modifications to certain items of the manual of arms. Most were 12 gauges but there were a few 20 gauges as well. Most were 18” to 20” tactical guns with extended magazines, but there were one or two long-barreled hunting guns as well. Two guys had Remington 1100 20-gauge youth guns with shims in the stocks, and they had a few problems: during malfunction clearance it was a real bitch to get the round out of there. Also one of their stocks started splitting.

Nobody had a magazine-fed gun like my Vepr, a Saiga, or a Black Aces mag-fed pump gun. I kind of wish I had brought my Vepr, but I don't have any spare mags for it. At some point in the future I think this would be fun to try. A lot of the drills would require modification and I'm glad I took it once with a normal pump gun. I ran my Mossberg 500 for all of Day 1. On Day 2 I started with my Remington 870 just to try something different. After lunch I grabbed my Mossberg without thinking about it and ended up sticking with it. The stock is more comfortable than the factory folder I have on the Remmy. Neither gun experienced any malfunction throughout the day, nor did I have any bad rounds. (Suprema buckshot, Gun Club and some other birdshot, I forget what slugs.)

If I remember right, instructor said that basically a shotgun can do “anything that a rifle can do and anything that a pistol can do,” which is, well...sort of true. My understanding is that a shotgun can be a good up-close weapon like a pistol, and can go out to moderate ranges with slugs, becoming a shitty rifle. I got the impression that the instructor was somewhat enamored of the shotgun (and wanted us to be enthusiastic students), knew how to run it really really well, and may have been a bit, well, understated about its limitations.

Instructor emphasized the lethality of the shotgun, both as an argument for its use, and as a safety consideration. He gave some statistics about survival rates; I forget the numbers, but basically if you get hit by a single round from a pistol, your odds of survival are pretty damned good. From a rifle, they're still pretty good. From a shotgun, you're pretty well fucked. (Honestly I felt his numbers may have been exaggerated or cherry-picked, and I wished he would have cited a source for this, but didn't want to disrupt his presentation with a question that was overly confrontational and basically academic.)

Even a ricochet from shooting a slug at steel from too close in can be very dangerous. A negligent discharge from a pistol usually means a trip to a hospital, and you may be out the next day. A negligent discharge from a shotgun can take off a limb, and if you make it to the hospital, you'll be there a while. This also means that while a single shot from a pistol may not stop an adversary (pistols being ballistically defficient, which is why Front Sight teaches controlled pairs), a single round of 12 gauge 00 buck is usually enough to stop the threat. (Better safe than sorry, we still practiced controlled pairs and failure to stop drills.)

Shooting the shotgun is relatively simple. Loading the shotgun is 90% of this class. Some people say that the shotgun is “ammo deficient.” It's not, but it is “ammo hungry.” The shotgun is a hungry beast, and keeping it fed is your primary job.

4 rules of firearms safety
Chamber check, mag check
Muzzle awareness
Use of sling (safely unsling, drive gun forward to clear clothing, pull back hard and tight into shoulder)
Types of ready: high, low, field
Sight alignment and sight picture
Trigger reset: Press, trap trigger to rear, cycle the action, reset trigger, decide whether to shoot again)
Kneeling and prone positions

Shell index: drawing a shell from wherever, lay it across your fingers so it is held between the sides of your index and little fingers. Place the shell against the loading or ejection port and flat palm it in like you're feeding a horse. If using the ejection port it should fall right in; if using the loading port you use your thumb to press it in.

Port loading: with the action open (duh), index your shell in your hand. Roll the shotgun so the ejection port is facing down towards the ground. Place the shell in the ejection port and roll the gun back level. Close the action, chambering the shell.

Loading the shotgun: Port load a single round, THEN fill the magazine tube. (Reason being, so you have one ready to go right away if needed.

Unloading the shotgun: Open the action. The round in the chamber should be ejected; a second round will exit the magazine and sit on the loader. Roll or flip the shotgun so the ejection port faces down and shake that second round off the loader so that it falls out the ejection port. Close the action. Depress the shell retainer in the magazine mouth so that the rounds in the mag are free to be pushed out by the magazine spring. This may require opening the action slightly so the bolt isn't in the way. This is better than cycling all the rounds through the action because repeatedly chambering and unchambering the rounds can weaken the rim.

Tactical reload: Your shotgun isn't empty. Fill the magazine. Finish with a chamber check to make sure that you did, in fact, still have one in there.

Emergency reload: Your shotgun is empty. Half-rack the shotgun so that the action is open. With the action open, port load a single round, aim, and fire. Open the action (half rack). Repeat.

Malfunction clearance. Type 1 (click instead of a bang). Either your gun is empty or you have a bad round or something like that. With a rifle or pistol you'd “tap, rack, flip,” (flip towards the ejection port to get that round out of there, NOT “tap, rack, bang” which conditions firing as part of the clearing process and may result in an ND), but on the shotgun there is no mag to tap. You just rack the action while flipping the gun ejection port down, close the action, and decide whether or not to shoot.

Type 2 (brass high in the ejection port, AKA failure to eject, AKA stovepipe). Same method should solve it.

Type 3 (brass low in the ejection port, AKA double feed). Rack the action to the rear, ejecting the live round. Then close the action on the empty, and rack again to eject the empty and chamber a new round. Yes, you lose a round this way. Not sure what prevents a new shell from feeding on the first rack; will have to practice this at the range and check it out.

Sighting in slugs. Fire a group of 3, connect the dots to make a triangle; the middle of the triangle is where you're zeroed. If you have adjustable sights, adjust accordingly. If not, hold accordingly. Fire another group of 3, repeat. Three groups of three should be plenty to get you zeroed...and plenty of slugs for your shoulder. (The first time, I was on target 3, fired 3 shots, and got 8 holes in my target! The guys on 2 and 4 also shot at 3! Derp derp. No problem, my sights were pretty much on. Later I switched to my Mossberg 500 with a bead only; fortunately without even sighting in it was point of aim = point of impact at 35 yards!

Patterning buckshot. There is a lot of talk on forums etc. about how as long as a few pellets are on target etc., that'll do the job. This is irresponsible in a context where you're responsible for every projectile you put downrange. So, we pattern a gun to determine the distance at which a given gun, firing a given load, will put every pellet from a properly placed shot within the target area. For a defensive shotgun the target area is a human torso. At very close distances, the shot will hit as a single massive hole. This is your “A range.” As soon as a single pellet separates from the pattern, you have entered “B range,” which extends back as far as all pellets are on target. At a certain distance, one pellet will be outside the silhouette, at which point you have entered “C range.” In a law enforcement or civilian defensive shooting, it is irresponsible to fire at C range. You should switch to a slug, draw your pistol, etc. Whereas, in the Marines for example, to clear a hallway or room, they may want to be at C range so that a single shot will clear the hall.
My 20” Remington 870 shooting Suprema 00 Buck patterns very loose. Just barely A Range at 7 yards, by 15 yards I was at C range. My B range is probably 12-13 yards. This is a very loose pattern. Options: buy a different barrel (I'd been considering an 18.5” IC barrel anyway), or run a different load (e.g. Federal Flight Control). Flight Control is buffered and holds tight patterns farther out.

Shell select: You need a different type of shell. Typically, you are shooting shot, and need a slug. This could be because you're loaded with buck and a threat presents itself at C range, or it could be because you're hunting doves and a bear charges out of the brush. There are two ways to do this. If your magazine is NOT FULL, you can load the new shell into your magazine tube, then cycle the action. You lose one round of shot onto the ground. If you know that your magazine IS FULL, or if you attempt to load the slug into the tube and it won't go in (because the mag is full), you'll need to port load the shell. Open the action (half-rack), ejecting the round in the chamber, and shake out the round on the loader. Port load the slug, close the action, and point in. Decide whether or not to fire. You lose two rounds this way, and it is slower. Is this a good reason to run your gun with the magazine downloaded by one round? You decide.

We finished up the day with a fairly high round count series of drills, e.g. shoot one round into each of four targets, topping up the gun as needed. Occasionally he called “HEAD!” which, fortunately, I remembered from pistol class; he hadn't explained this part for the new people. But, it's pretty obvious.

Take-aways:

Despite the instructor's enthusiasm, I remain skeptical of the shotgun as a primary weapon. Its debatable advantage in lethality as compared to the carbine is outweighed by its reduced capacity, greater weight and bulk of ammunition, short range (even with slugs), lack of precision (even with slugs), heavy recoil (and therefore slower follow-up shots), and slow reloading. The magazine-fed shotgun mitigates only the last of these; semi-autos may partially mitigate the recoil issue.

There is, however, something particularly fun about shooting shotgun, in the way that getting kicked in the shoulder by a mule repeatedly is kind of fun. It's definitely a beefy kind of feeling. And shooting steel with slugs sure sounds, looks, and feels cool!

Also the disadvantages of the shotgun really require training to overcome. The shotgun is such a common weapon, for hunting as well as defense, and it is apparently a simple one. This apparent simplicity leads people to take it for granted (“the shooty end goes towards the other man”), failing to recognize the need for training with this gun. In particular, the unique challenge of keeping the shotgun fed is one many people don't address. Many shooters treat reloading the shotgun as a purely administrative function. Tactical and emergency reloads of the shotgun are the most important skill to be developed through proper training, followed by practice.

Patterning your shotgun at various distances with various loads is vital to understanding your gun and ammo. When you torch off a round, you need to know where all of those pellets are going to go.

I remain a fan of the rifle and pistol, with the shotgun taking up a distant third. But as I own two pump guns, I am glad that I now know better how to use them. I'm also eager to re-take this class, in its 4-day format, using the VEPR12, to see how it fares. Specifically with regard to faster reloading and shell select.
Image

User avatar
Murph
* * * * *
Posts: 5771
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 11:46 am
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by Murph » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:24 pm

Jeriah wrote:Trigger reset: Press, trap trigger to rear, cycle the action, reset trigger, decide whether to shoot again)
I find it a little surprising that method was taught, due to the fact that it will cause a slam fire with some shotguns.

I like the concept of the A-B-C ranges when it comes to patterning. Nice!

How were people carrying shells to reload with?
Does your BOB at least have: water, basic tools, fire, food, first-aid kit, and shelter?
"When planning, prepare for the most likely, and then the most catastrophic."
raptor wrote: Being a gun collector does not make you a prepper.
the_alias wrote: Murph has all the diplomacy of a North Korean warhead, but -he has- a valid point

User avatar
Jeriah
ZS Lifetime Member
ZS Lifetime Member
Posts: 18722
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:12 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead 04, and 28 Days Later are my top three, in that order.
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact:

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by Jeriah » Tue Jun 02, 2015 3:29 pm

Murph wrote:
Jeriah wrote:Trigger reset: Press, trap trigger to rear, cycle the action, reset trigger, decide whether to shoot again)
I find it a little surprising that method was taught, due to the fact that it will cause a slam fire with some shotguns.
They did mention that, and inspected our guns to make sure none of them would do that. Definitely something to bear in mind, though, if you pick up an unfamiliar, older weapon that has this feature.
I like the concept of the A-B-C ranges when it comes to patterning. Nice!
Yes, and especially the whole "you're responsible for every projectile that leaves your weapon" part of it. So many people are like, "Even at such and such range, a few pellets are on target. Do you want to get shot with three rounds of .32 ACP? Hurr!" Meanwhile they're basically planning on peppering their living room with stray shot. I found it very eye-opening. Also I had no idea how loose my 870 patterned; I either need to stock up on Federal Flight Control rounds or maybe a new barrel.
How were people carrying shells to reload with?
My friend and I stuck Velcro to our guns and were running ESSTAC shotgun cards on there. I had one on the receiver and one on the butt of each of my shotguns; she had one on her receiver and a Speedfeed stock. In both cases we were doing shot on the receiver and slugs on the butt. During the really high round count portions I stopped topping off the cards and just reloaded from my pockets or dump pouch.

Others ran a variety of solutions. Belt-mounted shell carriers were very popular (and for sale in the Pro Shop, for like $70), also that's what the instructors were using. Very fast, only drawback was, of course, if the gun is for home defense, you probably don't sleep with a shell carrier on your belt. Lots of people were using rigid receiver shell carriers; the drawback was that in the format of the class, you had to remove all ammunition from these at the "Unload" command. So, basically, the belt carriers were best for the class, but were less likely to be what you'd use outside of training; conversely, the on-weapon carriers were more likely to be what you'd use in a home defense situation, but were a pain in the ass during the class. With the velcro-mounted cards, you could unload just by ripping the cards off, which made it way easier.
Image

User avatar
Paladin1
* * * * *
Posts: 4451
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:56 pm
Location: Central Ohio

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by Paladin1 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:20 pm

Great write up!

I have always been a proponent of a shotgun in SD outside of the house. Typically, such a SD situation occurs in low light, targets moving, your moving, various typical yard like obstructions. The pattern thrown helps get shots on target and one shot stops are far more probable IMO.

That being said, the downsides (as you outlined) are certainly true. And as with any other weapon platform you should practice it.

Technology marches on, and these days my 300BO has supplanted the shotgun. (even sold my Saiga12 :shock: ) Have a Mossberg 930SPX these days for 3gun, but admit that I don't run a Boomstick as much as I use to.

I Like the A,B,C zones and had quantified that before with my shotguns. One thing you didn't mention was the choke, if any, your running?

Between flight control loads, patterning with various brands/loads and chokes you can adjust effective ranges more than most people think.
WWSD?

00dlez
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 481
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:20 pm

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by 00dlez » Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:01 pm

1) Do you think you got your money's worth? It seemed on the higher side of some other options I've seen in my area (I can get 12+ hours of private instruction for the same cost) but money well spent is... well... well spent.

2) Can you elaborate more on the "point" of the A-range? It seems to me it's only use is to better define what the B range is.
Batman has a pretty good EDC. - Purple_Mutant

KnifeStyle
* * *
Posts: 527
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:33 pm

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by KnifeStyle » Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:46 pm

This is actually perfect timing, I'm being pushed to try a tactical shotgun course despite the fact I do not own nor have ever fired one. I compete in pistol, loved my carbine course and am going to continue with it, but cannot find a solid niche to justify buying and training shotgun except if my friends want to do a regular skeet shoot or something. If I was a hunter and happened to have one, I can see the course being fun. But would it be worth the up-front investment for the Hufflepuff of firearms?
jamoni wrote:Zombie Squad, the things you have experience with scare me.

User avatar
procyon
* * * * *
Posts: 1101
Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 5:56 am
Location: Iowa, USA

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by procyon » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:20 am

Nice write up.

And I pretty much agree with your perceptions.
I'm sure your instructor was overstating the shotgun's capabilities and minimizing the rifle's.

The statistics I have seen leave the shotgun and rifle pretty close to even in lethality and incapacitating targets.
Handguns are usually only about half as effective and lethal.
The one that gets thrown around the most is the study by Greg Ellifritz. You could find it by googling it I suspect if someone is curious.
I suspect it is on this site somewhere, I just have no idea where.

I like the A-B-C concept. Never heard it before.

As far as a weapon for combat, the shotgun has it's place. But it isn't everything.
Again, very nice write up.
:clap:
... I will show you fear in a handful of dust...

User avatar
Jeriah
ZS Lifetime Member
ZS Lifetime Member
Posts: 18722
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:12 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead 04, and 28 Days Later are my top three, in that order.
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact:

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by Jeriah » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:53 am

00dlez wrote:1) Do you think you got your money's worth? It seemed on the higher side of some other options I've seen in my area (I can get 12+ hours of private instruction for the same cost) but money well spent is... well... well spent.
There are certificates for free classes all over the place. Check ebay or your local firearms classified pages. You may be able to buy one for $100 or less. I was given one as a gift from a friend's grandfather (for a pistol class I took previously). You can also get lifetime memberships, listed online as $15,000, for a few hundred dollars. I paid $100 for mine; I see them listed in the $600 range on my local gun classifieds regularly. There's no need to pay the full listed price for a class or membership.

So yes, the $100 I spent on a lifetime membership was very well spent. Maybe the best hundred bucks I've ever spent.
2) Can you elaborate more on the "point" of the A-range? It seems to me it's only use is to better define what the B range is.
At A range your shot all hits as one projectile. At A range, you could make a head shot on a hostage-taker, for example. However, you don't get the advantages of a big shot pattern which pokes lots of holes in all sorts of vital stuffs. So if you're running Flite Control buckshot out of a gun and it stays at A range way out to like 25 yards or something, you might want to run different ammo.
Image

User avatar
Jeriah
ZS Lifetime Member
ZS Lifetime Member
Posts: 18722
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:12 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead 04, and 28 Days Later are my top three, in that order.
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact:

Re: After Action: Front Sight's 2-Day Defensive Shotgun Cla

Post by Jeriah » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:56 am

KnifeStyle wrote:This is actually perfect timing, I'm being pushed to try a tactical shotgun course despite the fact I do not own nor have ever fired one. I compete in pistol, loved my carbine course and am going to continue with it, but cannot find a solid niche to justify buying and training shotgun except if my friends want to do a regular skeet shoot or something. If I was a hunter and happened to have one, I can see the course being fun. But would it be worth the up-front investment for the Hufflepuff of firearms?
Front Sight has rental guns. Shop around for a coupon for a course, rent a shotgun, shoot their ammo. This will help you decide a) if you want to buy a shotgun, and b) what shotgun to buy.
Image

Post Reply

Return to “Training”