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What are some effective drills for shotgun home defense?

There’s no denying that crime is a very real problem in the United States. Even the most affluent and ‘safest’ neighborhoods aren’t immune to crimes like burglary and robbery, with the latter posing a risk of injury or, sadly, homicide to robbery victims.

Some of the country’s criminal fraternity commit crimes armed with firearms. For those reasons and more, increasing numbers of Americans are looking at practical ways to defend themselves against such threats at home.

One way to achieve that goal is by protecting your home with a shotgun. As you know, a shotgun is quite a hefty weapon to hold and use, so it makes sense to practice some effective home defense drills to keep your training fresh in your mind.

If the worst were to happen, you’d be suitably prepared for the situation and know how to take control of it while protecting your loved ones. 

How to Get Started

Before you try out some of the effective shotgun home defense drills on this page, you’ll need a few things to get started.

Firstly, you’ll need a pump-action or semi-automatic shotgun. You must, of course, make sure that it’s in good condition and that you keep it clean and maintained. Otherwise, you risk injuring yourself or potentially your family members!

Secondly, you must have some way of storing your ammo on the shotgun. A side saddle or a stock-mounted shell carrier are two examples you could consider. Other things you’ll need include a shot timer, some targets, and a few boxes of shells (you can use birdshot).

If you don’t have a dedicated shot timer, the good news is you can use some smartphone apps like IPSC Shot Timer that work just as well. Also, if you don’t have birdshot, you can use buckshot instead. If possible, work with loads that you actually intend to use.

Effective Drills for Shotgun Home Defense

Now that you’ve got everything you need, the following examples are some excellent home defense drills for shotgun owners:

Drill #1

One of the problems with paper targets is they don’t move, whereas real-life assailants do. With that in mind, this drill helps you work with moving targets. Start by placing two or more aluminum cans a few feet apart at roughly eight yards away from you.

Start by shooting the first can, and shoot again before it stops rolling or tumbling backward. Next, shoot the other can twice, and move back to the first can, and so forth. Be sure to include a tactical reload as part of this drill.

During this drill, keep your shotgun barrel at eye level and your strong-side wrist near your stomach. Be sure to keep both your eyes open when you shoot so you can quickly transition and be faster on follow-up shots.

Drill #2

The second drill will involve using a silhouette target. Firstly, load a round in your shotgun chamber and while you’re at a high-ready position, use both eyes to determine when you want to hit.

Next, you’ll need to start your shot timer, and when it beeps, level your shotgun so that its comb rises up to your cheek. Ensure you don’t lower your head or cheek, or even shoulder it as you would a rifle.

Looking at the target rather than your shotgun, you should pull the trigger when the stock makes contact with your cheek and shoulder. Repeat the drill and try to beat your best time. Once you’ve done a few training sessions, you’ll instinctively know how to aim.

Drill #3

If you ever have to defend your home against assailants, you’ll undoubtedly need to shoot from close quarters and avoid injuring your loved ones if they are close to you and the assailants.

With that in mind, you need to familiarize yourself with what a shotgun can do at various ranges. You can do this by placing a “no-shoot” paper target close to you. Next, put another target around five to ten yards in line behind it.

You will then shoot the target from cover, avoiding the close target. Repeat the drill a few times until you end up peppering the edge of the close target. Doing so will give you an idea of how to shoot targets without unintended targets getting caught.


The above isn’t an exhausting list of shotgun home defense drills you can practice. However, they are some of the most common ones you should master.

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