Carrying your shotgun while shooting the clay target games
When you’re at the shooting range you’ll observe several methods of carrying shotguns.
Break-open shotguns are normally broken open and carried with the barrel pointed in front of the person holding it. I say normally, as you see the occasional shooter with the barrel backwards over their shoulder. I don’t think I’ve ever been hit by a barrel carried in this fashion, but others I’ve spoken with have, and they said it hurt. If we carry a break-open shotgun over our shoulder, we should keep the barrel in front of us so we don’t accidentally hit someone with it and so we don’t inadvertently point the barrel at someone.
Another thing we see frequently at the range is a pump or semi-automatic shotgun being held by the breech with the barrel pointing down. While this sounds like the safest possible way to carry it, and it is a common carrying position when we’re in the field hunting, it can sometimes be unsafe on a skeet field. When we’re hunting, there usually aren’t a lot of people nearby and the ground may not be hard packed or concrete. When shooting a round of skeet or trap, in addition to there being several other shooters on the field, the surface is usually hard-packed soil or concrete, and an accidental firing is always a possibility. I know I’ve seen this while hunting and once on a trap field. The pellets hit the ground and ricocheted in the general direction the barrel is pointing. If we’re lucky, no one gets hurt and there’s no property damage.
This is another reason why we use the term ‘MAT‘.
- Muzzle – Keep the muzzle in a safe direction
- Action – Keep the action open
- Trigger – Keep your finger away from the trigger
The bottom line is to always have your shotgun unloaded except when you’re in the station and about to shoot, always be aware of your surroundings and the direction your gun is pointed, and always keep it pointed in a safe direction.
Shoot often and stay safe.
Barry Hartmann is an NSSA Master Level and NRA Certified shotgun instructor who can help you improve your skills at American Skeet and wingshooting. To contact Barry, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at (918)803-2393.