What Is The Correct Way To Shoulder A Shotgun?

Holding and firing a shotgun sounds easy, I mean how hard can it be, right? Well believe it or not holding and firing a shotgun is easier said than done, for some. For starters, it is important to learn how to pattern a shotgun before using it. This is not the subject of my article today though. However, you can check out my earlier article on what distance should be used to pattern a shotgun. So back to the topic of my article, what is the correct way to shoulder a shotgun?

The answer to this question seems obvious but as you are about to learn not everything about shotguns is that obvious. So, join me as I explore the appropriate way to shoulder a shotgun and other topics related to this one. But before that let us look at some of the different types of shotguns available.

Shotguns are some of the most widely used firearms in the country like the skeet thrower. It is greatly used for clay pigeon shooting and for a good reason if you are a skeet shooter you need the best clay pigeon thrower besides the shotgun.  In fact, shotguns account for 20% of guns used by civilians. These types of firearms come in a variety of types from a single shot, pump, and semi-automatic, there is something for everyone in the shotgun market.

The pump action is the most popular of the three major types of shotguns. This is because they are inexpensive, versatile, and easy to use. Also, these types of shotguns are manually powered as opposed to being mechanically powered. However, the speed with which you can fire this shotgun depends on how first you can actuate the pump.

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Semi-automatic shotguns are not manually powered and offer fast follow-up shooting. In addition, they usually offer a big magazine. Single shot shotguns are the cheapest, and you can only fire once at a time. This is their biggest disadvantage.

Nevertheless, for a beginner, a single-shot shotgun can be a great option. For large game hunting, many opt for bolt action shotguns. Nevertheless, whichever shotgun you opt for, they are all the same with regard to firing. This means that there is a way you should hold a shotgun when firing.

How To Shoulder A Shotgun

how shoulder a shotgun

Animals are always moving and rarely stay in one place for periods of time. Therefore, there is never time to aim a shotgun. In fact, a shotgun is designed to be pointed at a target with your eye looking along the top of the barrel. A shotgun’s sight or pistol sight is normally a bead on the barrel that you look at when firing. In this regard, your head must be positioned appropriately to get a precise and accurate shot with a shotgun. Therefore, you must align the barrel of your shotgun with your eye before firing. This will ensure that your shot is accurate and hits the intended target.

What Is The Correct Way To Shoulder A Shotgun

The way you shoulder your shotgun determines whether you go home empty-handed or not. That being said, it is important to learn the proper way to shoulder your shotgun. Also, improper shouldering of a shotgun can result in pain and a lot of discomfort, especially if you are new to shotguns. When you fire a shotgun, its recoil causes it to pull back, which can cause injury to your chest.

It is estimated that approximately 16,300 non-fatal gun-related injury cases are reported annually. A majority of the cases were accidental and occurred during routine handling of guns. 43% of these cases were from gun recoil, shotguns included. Therefore, learning how to shoulder a shotgun will keep you from becoming part of this statistic.

 place the stock of the gun by your cheek

The proper way to shoulder a shotgun is to first pull the stock back to your shoulder. This way the end of the stock squeezes snugly into your shoulder. While in this position lower your head so that your cheek fits snugly with the stock.

In this way, your eye will be looking down the gun’s barrel. The right way to do this is to lower your head while bringing the stock to your cheek. A common mistake made by most shotgun users is bringing their cheek to the gun’s stock.

In essence, the proper steps to follow is to first bring the gun to your shoulder, then lower your head, and then adjust your gun so that your cheek rests firmly on the stock.

When you place the stock of the gun by your cheek you improve accuracy and the gun’s control. However, sometimes assuming this position is not always easy or comfortable.

Therefore, it is advisable that you practice shouldering your shotgun. To have the best results, it is wise to try out different shotgun shouldering techniques. Different techniques work differently for different people. Thus, it all depends on what you are most comfortable with.

Different Ways Of Shouldering A Shotgun

There are several techniques that can be used to answer the question of how to shoulder a shotgun. The first technique is to lower your head and then bring the stock to your cheek. Remember to adjust the gun and not your head.

The second technique is to first lower your head. Then push the back of the stock to your shoulder. This is before you bring it to your cheek.

Another technique is to bring the stock near your cheek and push the back of your stock to your cheek. This technique does not require you to lower your head.

As stated above, every technique appeals to different hunters. In this regard, the technique that appeals to you might not appeal to me. Therefore, find the one that is most comfortable for you.

Pulling The Trigger

It is important to note that using a shotgun is not the same as using a rifle. While with a rifle you can aim at your target with scope, with a shotgun you cannot. Additionally, a shotgun’s trigger needs to be pushed quickly to guarantee accuracy. In this regard, it is better to slap it with a quick trigger action than to pull it as you would a rifle trigger. Pulling the trigger like you would a rifle trigger will cause a swig. This swig can result in the shot falling behind your target. Thus, to prevent this make sure you pull the trigger as fast as you can.

How To Stand

how to stand for shotgun shot

While positioning your shotgun is important so is standing in the right manner. When shouldering a shotgun, there is a certain manner in which to stand. When shouldering a shotgun make sure your legs are a shoulder apart.

Also, ensure that your knees are bent a little. Also, the back of the stock should be firmly resting on your shoulder. If the grip is not good, you may end up getting smacked on the cheek when you fire. Apart from the position, it is important to know how safe your shotgun shouldering it as like having the best gun safe.

Difference Between Shotgun And Rifle

There are a lot of similarities between shotguns and rifles used for hunting. As such, it is important to know how they differ. For starters, most hunting rifles come with a rifle scope attached or are compatible with them. In this regard, you have to aim at a target first before firing. A shotgun, on the other hand, has a bead instead of a rifle scope. Thus, while both can be held in the same manner firing will differ. For a rifle, remember to pull the trigger while for a shotgun you squeeze the trigger.

How To Fire A Shotgun

After learning how to shoulder a shotgun, it is important to learn how to fire at targets. Ass I have already stated animals rarely stay in one place, especially ducks and geese. Therefore, aiming at your prey is out of the question. So how do you go about firing at your prey with a shotgun?

Swing Through Technique

The best technique for beginners is the swing through technique. As the name suggests, this technique entails swinging the shotgun with the target. The first point behind your moving target and swing with it. When firing point at just before the target.

how to stand for shotgun shot_2

Sustained Lead Technique

Another more complex technique preferred by most pros is the sustained lead technique. In this technique point your shotgun in front of your target and swing with it. You have to estimate the distance between your target and your swing. This can be difficult especially if you are new to shotgun hunting. Once you figure the target, maintain the lead as you swing with the target and fire. This is used mostly for hunting flying ducks. This technique is best for hunters who are more experienced in shotgun hunting.

Pull Away

Another technique used in shotgun hunting is the pull away technique. This technique requires you to point at your moving target. Then quickly swing the shotgun ahead of the target. Fire and make sure to swing before and during the shot.


There is a lot of information out there on how to shoulder a shotgun. However, the techniques explained above will be all that you need to know about shouldering a shotgun. In conclusion, do not compromise on your gun’s accuracy or your safety when shotgun hunting. Make sure you know how to properly shoulder a shotgun.

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