The shotgun is a weak spot in my training. Fortunately, Lee Weems of First Person Safety offered the perfect opportunity for me to train in Defensive Shotgun (close to my home) by hosting Tom Givens of Rangemaster at his range in Athens, Ga. Opportunity and preparation equals my lucky day.
The morning started in a classroom setting with a historical background and development of the shotgun, which was fascinating. Tom is a masterful expert of all the details. The dawning realization that most of what I thought I knew about the shotgun was incorrect, a myth, or just plain wrong. Tom covered safety, nomenclature, accessories, ammunition, shooting techniques, maintenance, and patterning. I could not type fast enough. I was really wishing I had a DVD of this class ( #7).
Off to the range. I was shooting my Beretta 1301 Tactical outfitted with a new Magpul stock, thanks to Adam Roth and Aridus Industries, which allows for the adjustment of the length of pull and riser height. I have Sig Romeo 5 Red Dot sights which is an affordable entry-level optic. I was happy to get a spot in Tom’s class because I did not want to miss a chance to check the red dot’s durability and function in this punishing environment. To complete my upgrades, I also added a Nordic components MXT extension kit and Aridus Industries quick detach carrier, adding a total of 12 rounds onboard.
The shotgun is a fight stopper with the correct ammo, but it has a unique manual of arms that requires practice. Thus the primary focus was on mounting, operating, and reloading. We shot roughly 300 rounds of Birdshot and Buckshot, along with dry fire practice to develop the fundamentals. Shooting a couple hundred rounds had a less than desirable effect on my shotgun. Despite using red loctite on my stock, rail, and barrel clamp, all of them came loose. The stock started wobbling, the optic rail was flopping, and the barrel clamp was sliding, which made for an interesting shooting experience. Giving Beretta credit where credit is due, the gun still continued to function. Every break, I ran to the truck, tried to tighten everything up, and hustled back to the line. This definitely added extra pressure to the experience. I had to remove my optic to tighten the rail, which changed my zero to the left. After 1 shot, I made a quick adjustment, 10 clicks to the right, fixing that problem. The shotgun patterned well with Federal FliteControl 00 buck. At 25 feet, all 8 pellets stayed in the FBI Q target. We had a “man on man” competition on steel, fire 2 , reload 1, further demonstrating the need to aim. The pressure of competition and small poppers induced quite a few misses.
Takeaways from this class:
- Train with someone both knowledgeable and competent, always.
- Remove unnecessary equipment per Tom Givens’s recommendations, or in my case it will just fall off.
- The optic worked, but the rail failed. The red dot is definitely an advantage for quick target acquisition, however, I cannot attest to its durability yet.
- Loctite everything, and bring the right tools.
- The shotgun is now the home defense gun.
- Pattern your ammo.
- Tom had a DVD, which I immediately bought, so now I can practice.
I want to add one more thing. My wife Shelley has zero experience with a shotgun. After Tom’s class we discussed its value and how I would like to introduce the shotgun as the main home defense gun. This means we BOTH must train and practice. She is excited to start her “shotgun journey”.
I highly recommend this class. Tom Givens changed my mind about the role and use of the shotgun.