The first time I held a shotgun, I had a million burning questions in the back of my mind. Would I enjoy shooting them? Are they easy to manage? What do they sound like? My list of queries seemed to go on and on. But ultimately, I had one question I was dying to know the answer to. Are shotguns beginner-friendly? Let’s dive into my experience shooting a shotgun for the first time and see what I learned along the way. 

Getting Warmed Up

I wanted my first time shooting a shotgun to be effortless and enjoyable. So, to help achieve my goals, I started my day on the range with a .410 bore. For reference, this is one of the smallest shotgun shells available and is commonly used for clay throwing or hunting small game. 

One of the first things I noticed was how incredibly sturdy and lightweight it felt in my hands. It felt comfortable and, oddly enough, gave me a sense of familiarity. This firearm was a single-barrel break action, meaning one cartridge could be loaded at a time.

I found that loading it was easy. Simply pull the release to “break” open the barrel, insert a cartridge into the chamber, and click it shut. Once that was complete, I was ready to aim and fire. 

Settling myself into the proper position, I narrowed my eyes down the sights and stared at my awaiting target as my heart fluttered widely in my chest. It was now or never, I thought as I took a deep breath in.

Releasing the air from my lungs, I squeezed the trigger and unleashed a loud boom into the world. It caused my anxiety to shift into pure, uncontrollable excitement. The realization hit me quickly and unexpectedly. I had just shot my first shotgun and absolutely loved it!

Overall, the .410 firearm had minimal recoil, was comfortable to hold, not ridiculously loud, and was fun to load and unload. It was just what I needed to have a warm, gentle welcome into the world of shotguns. I could not have been happier with this firearm.

The author really loved shooting the .410 bore shotgun.

Kicking It Up a Notch

With my pre-shooting jitters out of the way, I felt confident enough to move up a caliber. So, I tried my hand at a 20 gauge.

This firearm was a Remington 870 and was heavier and sturdier than what I am used to. As I explored the firearm, the recognizable cocking sound was intimidating enough to send a shiver up my spine. It reminded me that I was stepping into unfamiliar territory. 

Now, collaborating with professionals, they had the firearm all loaded and ready to go for me. However, they made sure to inform me once again that positioning was super important. This caliber was going to be much more powerful than the .410, and I had to be ready for it.

As I prepared myself, my anxiety resurfaced. I had to gently remind myself that nothing could hurt me as long as I was following instructions.

After the .410, the author switched to shooting a 20-gauge shotgun.

Staring down the sights at my target, I held my breath, squeezed the trigger, and awaited the boom. The noise quickly followed, and upon hearing it, I instantly felt my body tense as my emotions went into overdrive.

It did not take long for me to form an opinion and settle on the fact that, unfortunately, I did not like this firearm. The recoil was uncomfortable, the sound was far too loud, and the power was too much for me.

The Remington 870 was certainly not a firearm for me. I knew it would be a while before I worked up the courage to try shooting it again.

Switching Targets 

After shooting the 20 gauge and not enjoying it, I decided that I would venture back to the .410 and try my hand at skeet shooting. So, with a handheld plastic clay thrower and the holler of the word “Pull,” I watched neon orange targets sail in the air and became determined to hit one.

The author then moved back to the .410 to shoot skeet.

It took me a couple of tries to figure out how to properly aim at a moving target. Once I got into a rhythm, I was finally able to land one. Upon impact, the explosion of orange pieces burst into the sky. I could not help but let out a shout of triumph. I had done it!

 As I watched broken clay fall back to the earth, I realized three things. Clay pigeon shooting was invigorating, addicting, and challenging in the best way possible. Without realizing it, my small moment of success had made skeet shooting my new favorite thing. Likewise, it managed to turn my entire day around.

Closing Remarks

Based on my experience shooting shotguns, I can say with full confidence that I left the range that day with a newfound respect and appreciation for these tools. Shotguns taught me about myself and helped expand my knowledge within the firearm community. More importantly, I learned that depending on the caliber you choose, shotguns are absolutely beginner-friendly.

My first time shooting shotguns was by no means picture-perfect. But to me, those imperfect moments I had are what made the experience well worth it.

Shooting a Shotgun: A Newbie’s Reflection on Her First Shots.

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