Friday, March 26, 2021

Remant: Combat Shotgun

Jarrell’s second lesson was in Combat Shotgun.

Darwin knew he didn’t have a lot of time to work with Jarrell so he boiled it down to the bare-bones, as he saw it. *

Dar had Jarrell do all of his shooting in the kneeling position. Easy to drop into. Easy to pop out of. Twice as hard for the bad-guy to hit you with return fire.

Dar had loaded up inert rounds. He had spray-painted them white to make them easy to keep track of.

Dar stacked cardboard boxes and made a “course” for Jarrell to shoot. Dar instructed Jarrell to keep firing at the closest target until it fell over, then engage the next closest. Dar had strings tied to the stacked boxes and could make them fall by yanking on the string.

Jarrell wanted to know why he was practicing with a pump-action shotgun. He knew Dar had several semi-autos.

“The problem with training with a semi, at least with inert rounds, is that you have to yank the bolt back to reset the trigger. That is NOT what you would do in combat” Dar told him. “A pump gun, training with inert rounds or combat is the same. Pull the trigger, rack the slide.”

“Another thing is that the transition from pump to semi-auto is easy. It is not as easy the other way around.”

Each time through the course Dar layered in a little bit more complexity.

The first time he had Jarrell move forward through the course.

The next time he had Jarrell do a fighting retreat.

Then he had Jarrell herding a beach-ball backwards with his feet while doing a fighting retreat.

“Why do you have me doing this?” Jarrell asked.

“Suppose you are at Applesauce Steakhouse when the balloon goes up” Dar suggested. “You are retreating to your vehicle with your family so you can exit the area where the flash-mob is. What do you think your three-year-old daughter will be doing? She will be glued to your legs. Get used to it.”

Dar layered in tactical reloads.

All with inert rounds.

“Won’t live rounds be different?” Jarrell asked. “I heard shotguns kick like a mo-fo.”

“That is going to be to your advantage” Dar said. “From now on, I want you pulling the weapon back into your shoulder with your trigger hand and pushing forward with the hand you have on the slide.”

“Won’t that slow me down?” Jarrell asked.

“It will with the inert rounds” Dar admitted. “But it will speed it up with live rounds. You can cycle the pump gun as quickly as a semi-automatic when you have recoil because the recoil will stroke the weapon back and your forward pressure will cycle the slide forward.”

“The other thing is that it will mitigate recoil” Dar said. “Pulling back with your trigger hand and pushing forward with your slide hand puts tension in your muscles and takes the slack out of your joints. Makes a HUGE difference in felt recoil.”

The last round through with the inert rounds had one target that would not go down. Jarrell ran his weapon dry. Then he laid it down.

“I don’t get it” Jarrell said.

“You are doing good with your high, center-of-gravity shots” Dar admitted. “But what happens when you run into somebody with body armor?”

Jarrell loaded one inert round and raised his point of aim. At the click of the firing pin, Dar yanked the string and toppled the stack of boxes.

“If you dump two rounds of double-ought into a target and don’t see an effect, change your point of aim. Shoot for his head, groin or thigh” Dar advised.

Dar finished the training session with two passes through the course with live rounds. Jarrell ran it without the beachball for safety reasons. There were no surprises, just reasonably fast times with workman-like accuracy.

“I don’t want you to get cocky, kid. But you are doing ‘OK’.” Dar said, grudgingly.

Jarrell was inordinately proud of the feedback. He had a sense that Dar did not hand out un-earned praise. And he was right.

Jarrell's self-esteem went through the roof when they got back home and Dar gruffly told him "Take the damned gun with you. It won't keep Melody safe sitting in my safe."

Jarrell felt the unalloyed joy of a 12 year-old, walking back to the garden shed with the 12 gauge pump shotgun in one hand, box of 00 high-brass shells in the other.


Next to Sundays, Wednesday’s were her busiest days and she needed a little pick-me-up before rejoining the party downstairs.

Dr. (of Divinity and Sacred Writings) Gracie Sherman was an enormous woman and had appetites to match. Massing out at 400 pounds, less a double-handful, she carried her avoirdupois with more grace than seemed possible. Lycra was her best friend.

She had taken the storefront Tabernacle of Divine Grace and Power over as a poor, struggling, single-mother and in the space of twenty years transformed it into a mega-church.

A consummate speaker who could no more walk past a microphone and not start speaking than she could walk on water, (special effects not-withstanding), she realized that King James was much too confining for what she had in mind.

Over the years, chapter-by-chapter she had released the Gracy Sherman (Dr. of Divinity) IMPROVED Bible. Notably, she did not retain Deut 12:32

“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.”

She kept the skeleton of the Bible as most knew it but she removed the parts that made her audience uncomfortable and added other bits. If pop-psychology, New Age/Scientology and the Critical Race Theory were the meat, potatoes and carrots of the stew she was serving; Marxism was the gravy that flavored every bite.

She was widely successful.

Her audience exploded. Fundraising matched. She opened the second largest church in the Lansing area out by the freeway. It had 52,000 square feet worship area.

Her crowning achievement was when she bought the downtown facility from a foundering a congregation of a legacy, main-line denomination. They were happy to sell it to another "church". Clearly, none of the Elders bothered to read the “Bibles” that were in every pew.

The addition of that facility vaulted Dr. Gracie Sherman ahead of her arch-rival on a square-footage basis. It was a stunning accomplishment for a girl who had dropped out of the Zanesville, Ohio high school and had never set foot in a college or university. The Dr (Divinity and Sacred Writings) was attributed to a now-defunct school in South Carolina where it was impossible to check her bona fides. Cunning, yes. Stupid, no.

Gracie was mid-way through her third line when her heart said “ENOUGH!” and went Tango Uniform. Too many years of untreated high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. Too much sugar and salt. No exercise. And now massive lines of exceptionally pure crank.

Nobody heard her body hit the floor. Her guests were rocking and the music was blasting.


*Please feel free to comment on what "bare bones" combat shotgunning should cover. I am NOT an expert. Dar is stressing "fighting retreats" because he doesn't see how "clearing" structures of aggressors fits with the mission of protecting his daughter.


  1. No expert but my entire thinking in my load out is that of breaking contact. I do not want to hurt anyone and I insist that the favor be returned. RogerRoger

    1. Don't expect your opponent to be so polite and to play by Marquis of Queensbury rules. Most of them will be most happy to kill you.

    2. That willingness pf the bad guy to kill you is all the more reason to retreat and get out of dodge - if at all possible. Standing and fighting is one thing - if you are not obligated to protect innocents.
      As to the question regarding shottie tactics - combat reloading is an essential skill. And is a whole lot easier with a pump gun.
      Not claiming to be an 'expert' but I am fairly good with them ;-) (not Anon @0717)

    3. I just mean I am not there to take the hill. Whomsoever threatens my family is so much dust. RogerRoger

  2. Keeping the shotgun full - a combat shotgun should be stored in "cruiser ready" condition-mag tube full, chamber empty, hammer down - that way the slide is ready to be cycled immediately to chamber a round.

    Shotguns hold few rounds - "regular" ones 4-5, those with combat mag tubes 7-9, which still isn't many, and the fight ain't over until everyone involved admits it's over.

    Rapidly reloading a shotgun is a learned skill, best practiced as ammo is used and when the - extremely brief - gaps in the festivities permit.

    1) Pattern the shotgun with the ammo you are most likely to employ, paying particular attention to where the pattern position is relative to how you are aiming the shotgun - 8 yards (living room distance), 20 yards (door-to-driveway distance) and 35-40 yards (learn what the maximum effective range with your gun/ammo/skill is).

    2) add a side saddle amo carrier and practice with it, including inserting single rounds through the ejection port (shoot it completely dry AND still need to return fire, that's how it's done). The side saddle is always with the gun. FYI, the support hand always supports the shotgun and keeps it in the shoulder pocket while the "trigger hand" does the reloading. Practice with ballasted dummy ammo - a LOT (ballasted to closely simulate the weight of live ammo). Then practice some more. Speed AND precision count.
    3) Look into the shotshell belt carriers used by 3-Gun competitors. It won't always be "right there" like a side saddle but if it is you've got readily accessible (they're built for SPEED or competitors wouldn't use them) reloads. The carriers are designed for "snatch 2" so learn how to manage 2 shells in the trigger hand rapidly and precisely.

    To see exactly how to "run the gun" visit a local 3-Gun match and watch the shotgunners. Speed, accuracy and precision will be on display, as well as some of the more useful accessories. Lots of competitors use red dot sights which are terrific and fast, but rough-and-tumble on the street suggests a ghost ring rear sight with a tritium-insert front blade may be a better combination for long-term practicality.

    When you get really, really, REALLY serious about shotgun work check out what Hans Vang can do for you (and bring a full wallet, it'll be spendy but very much worth it).

    1. Also worth noting that reloading with the gun in the ready-to-fire position is not intuitive to the novice. That is something Dar would have emphasized in his training.

      The game does not stop because you are more comfortable removing the gun from your shoulder and flipping it upside-down. That is an efficient way to get yourself dead.

    2. A subset would be called defensive shotgun for those who have had semi-successful shoulder surgery.
      I could not hold the shotgun up and reload it, but I could reload very fast by turning the weapon up with my right hand and clamping gun between my arm and my body.
      If needed, the weapon is then loaded and ready for a quick hip shot.
      And practice those hip shots!

  3. Joe,
    I disagree with forward pressure on the slide. Pressure needs to be to the rear so that ejection is automatic upon pulling the trigger (live or dummy round). Really pushing forward runs the risk of short stroking and not ejecting or not picking up a fresh round. My two cents.

    Opie Odd

    1. That is a very good point.

      Certainly when racking the slide to do it with great vigor (slap it back and forth like it owes you money).

      I suppose some of it has to do with Jarrell's arm strength. He will likely have to separate the "recoil management" and racking the slide, at least until he is no longer intimidated by the recoil.

      Great thoughts. I will leave it the way it was written and assume the characters will see it as a problem to be solved...which would happen in the live-rounds passes through the course.

      Thanks for writing.

  4. I am a big fan of K.I.S.S. Revolvers and pump shotguns trump all others in simplicity of operation.

    That said, back in the mid-90's I read Massad Ayoob's analysis of the 1986 FBI Miami shootout. Special Agent Mireles' left arm was disabled by 223 round. At one point during that fight, he wound up sitting on the ground with his back against a vehicle, placing his 870 shotgun between his knees to rack the slide, then bring it to his shoulder with one hand to fire. He fired five rounds this way.

    Reading about this inspired me to purchase my Benelli Super 90 M-1. Still have it.

    The key is training and practice. Run that bitch like a rented mule 'til you can do it in the dark.

  5. When not shooting, moving and reloading. My last shotgun course focused on the push pull method and it does work better than any other. It would be easy to pick up for a new shooter.

    Well done sir!


  6. Defensive rather than offensive training is a good start.

  7. Methinks that at some poing in this story, Jarrell is going to need these newly learned skills and training. Otherwise, why spend any time on them in the grand scheme of things? I have a feeling of both anticipation and foreboding, much the same as a really good movie where the suspense steadily builds and you just know that something is going to happen. Well done, sir.

  8. There's lots more to running a combat shotgun, still more to running a shotgun IN combat.

    Most shotgunshave a 13.5" length-of-pull (LOP) - the distanc ebetween the front trigger face and the rear of the stock buttplate. 13.5 is about right for about 5'10" and up, too long for shorter people. How well does the shotgun fit Jarrell?

    What's the choke? Unlike bird hunting shotguns, combat shotguns are aimed, not pointed, so if it's aimed a 2-point sight system is best (rear sight, front sight) rather than just the usual front bead, with a large ghost ring rear, and this also allows a tighter choke. Each shotgun, and each barrel used on that shotgun, has to be patterned to verify, but chokes run: cylinder bore - straight tube, no choke, max effective range about 25 yards; improved cylinder (slightly tighter, and good to 28-30 yards); modified (tighter than improved cylinder, good to 35 yards); full (tightest of the common chokes, 40 yards); extra full (quite tight, rarely seen outside of a duck blind, 45-50 yards). Patterning to determine the actual choke is done by counting the number of pellets inside a 30 inch circle, usually at 40 yards. If you're aiming, I'd suggest modified.

    I'd hope Dar is training Jarrell to avoid "short stroking," to always keep the stock in the shoulder pocket and maintain a "high low ready" position (fast to raise the shotgun for a center mass shot BUT always in position for "hips and thighs" while not impairing vision, how to reload "on the fly," that "you play like you practice" so train then practice your training. I would not keep them in the side saddle - that should be standard full power 8-pellet 00 buck, preferably Federal FliteControl or Hornady Versatight (good luck finding any of that....) - but having a couple Brenneke slugs on hand can be useful - they can be single-loaded though the ejection port for those instances where a single large projectile is th ebest choice. The Winchester/Remington/federal 1 ounce slugs work, but the Brennekes (actual Brenneke,not "Brenneke-style slug") are considerably more accurate. Like everything important, test it under as close to real world conditions as possible so you know what it will actually to.

    FYI, whatever spare shotgun ammo is carried, beyond what's in the gun or on the side saddle, needs to be in a real carrier - Anon (above) mentioned 3-Gun belt carriers, they work great. A good bandolier is OK in a pinch, but be careful it doesn't interfere with your sidearm (Jarrell is carrying a pistol for 'just in case" backup, isn't he?) and is positioned properly to allow rapid strong hand reloading. Extra shells in your pocket(s) only works in the movies and TV - they're never lined up the right way for speed and there's always other stuff in your pockets. Embarrassing as hell to dig into a pocket for another round of 2 3/4" 00 buck and wind up feeding your car keys into the chamber. It's also pretty fatal. Avoid the "Sooper Dooper Ammo Slings" - they look cool but interfere with the use of a real sling, and that mass swinging around under the gun as you move is never good.

    As for type, 870s are smoother and easier than Mossberg 500/590s, the action on a Remington Wingmaster is so smooth it's nearly orgasmic.

  9. Clays/ doubles is good practice with a pump.
    Second Chuck on the 870.


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