What Is the Correct Way to Shoulder a Shotgun?

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If you are also in love with hunting as a sport, you know its relaxation. I sometimes spend entire weekends or plan my vacation around heading out for a game to shoulder my shotgun. Therefore, you must know that to succeed in the chase, you must have acquired some necessary shooting skills. 

One of the essential shotgun techniques that you’ve mastered is shouldering your splatter gun. This is known as ‘gun mount,’ and goes a long way to improving your shot accuracy.

If you observe the best shot-gunners, they mount their guns in unhurried, slow movements. That’s because consistently shouldering a shotgun has become second nature to them through constant practice. 

Benefits of Shouldering a Shotgun the Correct Way 

When you shoulder your shotgun correctly, your shots are kept on target, and the recoil doesn’t jar you too much. 

Shooting a shotgun is quite different from a rifle, and shouldering one should be too. I use my shotgun to prevail against moving targets, such as bounding whitetails, birds in mid-flight, and flying clays.

The proper shotgun shooting techniques cultivate instincts that breed accuracy on fast mobile targets.

They say practice makes perfect. That’s only true if you are practicing the proper form of shotgun shouldering. 

If you were taught improperly and had been using an improper form, you may be hard-pressed to re-learn. However, don’t get frustrated as perfection is never the goal when jumping rabbits or ducks from a blind.

Precision aiming doesn’t belong in wing shooting, as when hunting, you point and fire. To achieve success from accurate shooting, it’s time to start practicing the correct way to shoulder a shotgun.

Vital Points That Determine How You Shoulder a Shotgun

When discussing how to shoulder a shotgun, the subject matter shouldn’t be ‘shoulder’ but ‘cheek.’

Your cheek is the essential part of your body that gives consistency in streamlining the crucial elements of shotgun shooting. Shooters have devised all sorts of techniques to achieve a stellar cheek weld, all of which are wrong.

The first scenario involves jamming the shotgun’s stock into your shoulder and then swinging the muzzle until the comb meets their cheek.

Another instance may involve your jamming the guns butt squarely into your shoulder, and then dropping your cheek to receive the stock. 

Both scenarios will cost you shot accuracy and speed, which targets on the move require. 

To get proper alignment of your shotgun while keeping a sharp eye on the moving targets, mount the gun to your cheek. Achieving a proper cheek weld with the stock should be the first point of contact.

All this will be done while keeping your head erect, face forward to maintain visual on your target. Sit the comb, which is the top edge of your shotgun’s stock, firmly underneath your cheekbone.

This procedure puts your strong or dominant eye aligned with the top part of your shotgun. If your shotgun is a proper fit, you’ll be able to stare down the barrel all the way to the bead. 

The gun’s butt is thereby planted firmly on your shoulder, into what I call the pocket. 

How to Find Your Shoulder Pocket for a Shotgun’s Butt

A proper fitting shotgun should bring the butt right into the pocket of your shoulder. That is after you’ve brought the gun to your cheek. 

Once the shotgun’s stock slips into the shoulder pocket, you can pull it tighter or bump your shoulder forward for a tighter fit.

You shouldn’t be excessive in either of these movements, as the stock will be in its natural position. If you are shooting buckshot, maybe 3.5-inch magnum, you may need to press the butt firmer into your shoulder’s pocket.

Such heavy loads produce tough recoils that can bruise your shoulder if the stock is not held tightly enough. 

Your shoulder pocket is located underneath your collarbone, at the point that your shoulder bone meets the clavicle. This is a muscled area that forms a pad within which the butt end of your shotgun’s stock is accommodated as though it belongs there.

When your arm is folded up to receive the butt, a God-given cushioning is formed. This muscle padding is the impact point that takes most of the guns recoil. 

A bruised bicep, collarbone, or shoulder can result from placing the guns but anywhere else than in your shoulder’s pocket. 

Fixing Problems with Maintaining the Right Shoulder Pocket and Cheek Weld Fit

Maintaining both a firm cheek weld and fitting your shotgun’s stock comfortably into the shoulder pocket is equivalent to a good fit. 

When you have trouble tilting your head as you slide back the butt, it’s a sure sign that your shotgun doesn’t fit properly. 

This may be caused by leaning back from the firearm, a natural tendency for apprehensive shooters. Instead of leaning away, you should move forward into the shotgun, keeping knees slightly bent and hips hinged. 

The correct stance and the right fit of the shotgun should solve the issues of maintaining a cheek weld alongside the proper shoulder pocket contact.

If you’re still straining after this correction, then you need a different shotgun or a higher comb.

For female shot-gunners, maintaining shoulder pocket contact while keeping a proper cheek weld can be a struggle. This is because women have slightly longer necks, which creates a fractional difference in the distance between collarbone and cheekbone. 

If you have issues to do with pulling the stock out of your shoulder pocket to maintain proper cheek weld, a shotgun stock with a different pitch or a higher comb will correct this. 

Raising Your Comb with a Comb Raising Kit

Achieving a better shoulder pocket and cheek weld fit can be done with a comb raising kit. This small addition is vital to those like me, who’d prefer not to trade in their shotgun. 

A comb raiser is a spongy neoprene sleeve that wraps around your shotgun’s stock.

An easily fitting comb raising sleeve may also have a selection of inserts made from foam. These are combined with the sleeve to raise the stock’s comb even more. 

Before permanently altering or replacing your shotgun, these comb raisers are a great way to fix cheek weld issues. 

How Do You Maximize Your Shouldered Shotgun? 

There’s an adage that goes, ‘no shoe fits all.’ This quote is true for when answering the question, ‘what is the correct way to shoulder a shotgun?’

The correct shotgun shouldering way probably can’t be applied across the board to all shooters. It may also depend on your personal preference.  

These factors could involve your shooting position, comfort, and the current shot scenario. How you shoot best is another vital factor since you can’t use a low-forward position to target a flock of over-flying fowls.

Regardless of your preference and situation, there are tips on how you can incorporate your style into any shooting scenario. These include;

  • Keeping the stock planted in the lower section of your shoulders pocket, with the shotgun’s barrel pointed down. Maintain this position until you are ready to shoot.
  • Forwardly leaning on your dominant foot, squaring up from the previous position. This is the natural shotgun hunting stance, which brings your frame’s gravitational center lower. 
  • Bringing the gun up, mounting the butt fully onto your shoulder pocket. Bring the stock up to press it firmly onto your cheek. 

After shouldering your shotgun, you need to maintain your stance and shoot for a successful kill.

Aiming Your Shouldered Shotgun for the Kill Shot

If you are right-handed, put your left leg out and vice versa if you are left-handed.

Create a 10-inch distance between your front and back foot. Bend your front leg’s knee just enough to create stability and balance.

While you pull the gun’s butt into the top of your shoulder pocket, keep sight of your target. Only turn your head side downwards a little when bringing up the comb to your cheek. 

Close the eye that’s opposite to your gun or trigger hand. Aim for the moving target according to the speed, and oscillation of its movements. 

A direct aim is bound to hit the target if it’s stationary or not moving. When it’s a fast-moving target, anticipate its next landing spot and aim there.

Trigger Actions That Could Jeopardize Your Shotgun Aim

When shooting a shotgun, a quick trigger reflex is essential, especially for games on the move. In rifle shooting, you are advised to squeeze the trigger as opposed to pulling or jerking it. 

A shotguns trigger requires a slap, rather than the rifle squeeze or pull. 

Lean into your shotgun before slapping the trigger to minimize recoil. You shouldn’t control your breath like you would when shooting a long-range rifle. 

Your body and the gun are in the motion of lining up the shot, following after the target. Pausing to exert breathing effort will only compromise your aim and accuracy. 

Instead, slap the trigger backward according to its weight while keeping your barrel on the target.

If you stop the swing when targeting the game on the move, possibilities are you’ve lost sight of the target. You’ll end up hitting what’s behind the target as opposed to the target itself.

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