“The Gospel of the Gauge” – Patterning your Shotgun for Professional/Duty and or Home or Self-Defense use.

One of my mentors, Tom Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services refers to Shotgun Training as “The Gospel of the Gauge” especially when it is done on a Sunday. (Don’t lie, you laughed) Tom also says that “Patterning your shotgun is critical, but an often overlooked aspect of being prepared to use that gun in self-defense.”

I have patterned a few shotguns before and understand that many people do not because they are living in some type of an alternate reality believing that a shotgun doesn’t need to be aimed and that somehow their payload will magically find their intended target. The hard reality is you must practice sound fundamentals and have both a steady aim and good trigger control in order to hit your target, even with a shotgun.

Before I get started, I’d like to ask all of the Gun Pretenders, YouTube, and Instagram Instructors and of course those famous Keyboard Operators out there, please stop recommending birdshot for professional/duty and or home or self-defense. Birdshot offers less than adequate penetration and besides, birdshot is for shooting what … the correct answer would be, you guessed it, birds.

OK, let’s talk about how to pattern your shotgun.

In order to establish a control group, I recommend placing three (3) shots on a target with a variety of payloads, each from the exact same distance, 15yds or 45ft. The POA or Point of Aim I chose with my Beretta 1301 Tactical was the center of the “A” Zone on an I.P.S.C. (International Practical Shooting Confederation) target. (Yes, I patterned the gun with some birdshot and I used a distance of 10yds or 30ft for those payloads)

Sure you could use five shots and most often in zeroing my rifle I will use a five shot group because I want to make sure that I minimize the outliers or as Pat McNamara calls them, “Junebugs.” However, I feel that three shot groups are sufficient to get an accurate feel of the payload and what it will do when launched from your shoulder-fired shotgun.

The reason I specifically mention shoulder-fired shotgun is that there are a couple new kids on the block, the Remington TAC-14, and the Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave. These shotguns have been available for over a year now and maybe close to two; however, they are basically hand cannons and are difficult to shoot with much accuracy using full-power payloads even for the most experienced of shooters. One man, “Brobee223” on YouTube has perfected the art and was very successful using his Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave to bag a couple deer late last year. I have linked his video below, give it a look. Fair warning, it is rather lengthy.

Back on track with patterning my Beretta 1301 Tactical. The first load I chose to shoot was by far the best and it really comes as no surprise. The Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK, 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) is the choice of many an experienced shotgunner. As you can see in the photo below, all twenty-four (24) pellets from my three shot group landed within a 3″ group with the three (3) larger holes being the wads.

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Below are photos of my other targets, using different loads, showing their patterns.

Federal 2 3/4″ 000BK, 8 Pellet, Maximum. (F127000)

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Olin Corporation 2 3/4″ 00BK, 9 Pellet Military Grade. (Brown Box)

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Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 1BK, 15 Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad. (LE132 1B) This was the second best pattern; however, I find that the 1BK is not as consistent as the 8 Pellet 00BK patterned in the first photo.

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Federal 2 3/4″ 4BK, 27 Pellet, Maximum. (F127 4B) Just to big of a spread for me at this range and not something I would recommend for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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As I mentioned above, I wanted to put some birdshot on target and here are the results. Birdshot Federal #4 Shot “Heavy Field Load” – 2 3/4″ – 1 1/8oz – 10yds (Take note, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) This sure appears to be a tight pattern, it’s the lack of penetration that makes birdshot suboptimal in its effectiveness for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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Winchester Super Target #8 Shot 2 3/4″ 1oz – 10yds (Once again, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) Same result, fairly tight pattern; however, penetration with this payload would also be an issue.

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So, once you have established a control group and your desired starting distance (Mine was 15yds) and you have selected the payload that you feel works best in your shotgun, it’s time to find out what the maximum effective range of your shotgun is with that particular load. In order to determine that, you will want to run your shotgun out to a distance and stop when you find the point at which you can keep all of your pellets from your chosen payload inside an 8″ to no more than 12″ pattern. I’d also recommend not only shooting cardboard or paper targets alone, make sure to shoot some steel as well. I happen to use 12″ AR500 discs that are 3/8″ thick, they work well with 00BK at this range.

From this test, it’s easy to see that my 1301T likes the Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) best at 15 yards. From previous experience with this payload, I can move back as far as 30yds and still keep the pattern inside an 8″ to 12″ group and that is precisely the reason I choose this particular load for my shotgun.

When I can find some time in between the courses that I am teaching and the ones I am attending as a student this spring and summer I will pattern my Vang Comp Systems Remington 870P to find out exactly what it likes best. Candidly, I suspect that there will be some similarities; however, one never knows until we put in the work.

If you need assistance in patterning your shotgun for professional/duty or home or self-defense use please consult a reputable Instructor/Coach who is familiar with the nuances of patterning a shotgun and can give you proper advice on the appropriate payload for your intended use as well.

Winding up I would be remiss if I didn’t give you an opportunity to train with Mr. Givens as he preaches “The Gospel of the Gauge” later this year in Lakeland, Florida. If you are an Instructor or aspire to be one I’d highly recommend that you train with Tom and Lynn Givens. For more information on the Rangemaster Shotgun Instructor Development course, please see below.

Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course
Chief Instructor: Tom Givens
November 16-18, 2018
Firearms Training Club of America, Inc
Lakeland, Florida (Private Range)
Tuition: $595.00

Register Here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/defensive-shotgun-instructor-course-3-day-tickets-39454107297

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Beware of “The Gun Counter Instructor”

Yesterday evening I was in my local gun shop (LGS) just looking around, and a few feet away from where I was standing a young man in his 30’s was asking a salesperson for some advice on what ammunition he should use in his home defense shotgun. As you might imagine, I was trying hard to hide the fact that he had my full-undivided attention.

Enter “The Gun Counter Instructor” with is classic answer. “All you need is some #7.5 bird shot.” Then he gestured past where I was standing and said, “It’s right over there past the guy in the tan shirt.”

As the young man walked my way, I stopped him and said, “I couldn’t help but overhear that you are looking for some ammunition for a home defense shotgun.” He answered in the affirmative and I told him, “Bird shot is for killing birds, not home defense against a home invasion robbery.” I then asked him what kind of shotgun he has and he politely said, “Remington 870 Marine Magnum.” (One of my favorite shotguns)

I then handed him a box of Federal FliteControl® Wad 2 3/4″ 9 pellet 00 buckshot (Not the exact load I prefer, but it will work) and told him this was what he is looking for to load in his home defense shotgun and to try it out at 10 and 15 yards to see what the pattern looks like at those two distances. If it is smaller than 12″ to 14″ then he should be good to go as he probably won’t have to make a shot of more than 15 yards inside his home. He then confirmed that the largest room in his house is only 35 feet wide, so not quite 12 yards. We continued our conversation on the way to the checkout line and I handed him a business card inviting him to my next Defensive Shotgun Course and noticed he was buying five (5) boxes of 00BK. I left him by recommending he try to find the 8 pellet 00BK through one of the major online ammunition retailers and handed him an extra box that I had in my car.

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The moral to the story is, as an Instructor or a responsibly armed citizen don’t overtly make the “Gun Counter Instructor” look bad, and try to be consultative in nature when giving advice in a gun shop. If you are an Instructor, make sure to have some business cards with you as well.

It is my sincere wish that this using bird shot for home defense theory would go away, but it won’t until we educate all of the “Gun Counter Instructors” to stop giving out poor advice to unsuspecting customers, I’d settle for my local gun shop employees as a start.

Until next time, stay safe & train hard!

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NRA Education & Training Department, Trainers Update NRA Annual Meetings in Nashville April 2015

Hello!

First, I had planned on video recording the Trainers Update in Nashville; however, I was unable to get a seat upfront in order to do so. My friends, Les, Joy and I sat about 15 rows back with over 500 other Instructors and Training Counselors in the meeting, so holding up my iPad to record was not an option that I was willing to try.

John Howard, NRA Education & Training Department National Manager started the meeting off with an overview of where the Education & Training Department has been and we are are heading. FYI, there are 119,000 Certified Instructors and Training Counselors currently holding NRA credentials.

Projects Completed:

  • Complete automation of credentialing for NRA Coaches.
  • Combined Muzzleloading into one Book/Lesson plan.
  • Pistol Marksmanship Simulator Training. http://trainingupdate.nra.org/#3750 (Recent Update: The PowerPoint is in the portal on the bottom right side, click on the slide for the PowerPoint presentation. There is a link below that for the Certificate)
  • America’s Rifle Challenge Guidebook.
  • NRA Certified Training Center – Trinidad State Jr. College in Trinidad, Colorado. This is a program where students can earn college credits for taking NRA Instructor Courses. It is the first of it’s kind so far.

Current Projects in Development:

  • E-Learning – Basic Pistol, BIT – Basic Instructor Training, Instructor Refresher/ReCertification Training.
  • Practical Coach – (Defensive and Hunting Skills, such as Defensive Shotgun, Rifle, Pistol)
  • New Basic Rifle Shooting Course – NRA Guide to the Basics of Rifle Shooting Handbook and Lesson Plan
  • America’s Rifle Challenge Video Series.

E-Learning:

  • “Blended Learning was designed for the student who has NEVER handled a gun.” – John Howard, NRA Education & Training National Manager.
  • E-Learning will be implemented late 3rd Quarter early 4th Quarter of this year, 2015.
  • There will be a transition period for Instructors and Training Counselors who have a supply of materials. At this point it is unknown how long that period will be; however, you won’t be stuck with printed materials that you cannot use.
  • At this time there is no established cost by the NRA for the student E-Learning modules.
  • Students are sending in surveys asking for MORE time with the Instructor in gun handling skills and shooting on the range. E-Learning is going to allow a lot more time for the Instructor to do just that.
  • John Howard and the NRA Education & Training Department feel that the Instructor is still the most important part of the program. It will be the Instructor who will ultimately certify the student, and the Instructor WILL BE GIVEN information on how the student progressed through the E-Learning modules of the course.
  • At the end John displayed the online E-Learning program, it was a brief sample; however, it was excellent. Too bad that not everyone stayed to get more information.
  • John Howard emphasized that there are NO secrets. Call or Email if you have questions or concerns. (703) 267-1500 or jhoward@nrahq.org

There were many questions from the audience, and the overriding theme of them were all about their concealed carry courses and how E-Learning will effect the Instructor and their business. Not surprising that no one asked about the benefits for the student. We all know that many get NRA Instructor credentials to do concealed carry classes. John’s response to many of theses types of questions was stating that the states have contacted the NRA asking them for help in standardizing curriculum. One attendee stood up and said, (Paraphrasing) “If you have problems with teaching and meeting the requirements of the laws associated with your states concealed carry training, you need to take it up with your legislature and leave the NRA alone.” I agree with that 100%, and I’m doing something about it here in Florida.

I believe that E-Learning will be excellent as it is designed for the student who has never handled a gun before. I also believe it will be good to have standardized training. It will be up to the Instructor to give the student the best experience on the range and handling the gun. After all, we are the ones they are going to remember most. If we do our job well, we will have a student that will take many more courses from us and we will be the first person they think of when they are asked if they can recommend a Firearms Instructor for classes.

Obviously E-Learning is a polarizing subject; however, I sincerely believe that the people who are pushing back against it are a minority, and they have fear of the unknown worried about their business income, not focusing on the positives of the program with the student in mind. The majority of the Instructors against the program have not taken the time to look in depth into it, these same Instructors also think they have the skills to write their own lesson plans. Where I am located in Florida, there are many of these types of Instructors who have no credentials qualifying them in writing curriculum for a Firearms Safety Course let alone a Qualification Course of Fire or instruction on presenting a pistol from a concealment holster, let’s not go into the legal advice that some of these people give, see my previous blog post for my rant on that subject.

I mentioned it earlier, the NRA says that the majority of surveys that are returned from students are requesting MORE time with the Instructor. We should be HAPPY that the NRA is taking the burden of a majority of classroom time off of Instructors and giving us more time to do the gun handling and range portion.

Oh by the way, John Howard mentioned using a long gun for home defense might be coming, so it is plausible to expect some possible curriculum updates in Personal Protection In the Home. I believe he also mentioned that Defensive Rifle, Shotgun & Pistol will be implemented in the NRA Certified Coaches program.

America’s Rifle Challenge
Nathan Judd, Lead Program Specialist, America’s Rifle Challenge Program

“Let Freedom Ring” is their slogan and you can find the downloadable guidebook and a lot of information on the program at http://arc.nra.org/ The program is a Course of Fire with an AR style rifle. In the survey the NRA sent out to Certified Instructors and Training Counselors on February 24, 2015 asking four (4) questions about an AR-15 Instructor Course there were 12,000 responses in 48 hours with a 96% response in favor. So, I expect that a course may be designed by the NRA in the future.

NRA Practical Coaches Program
Daniel Subia, National Coach Trainer, Rifle/Pistol

Daniel presented the program as a supplement to being an NRA Certified Instructor. I see it as a lot of added value in coaching your students into becoming better shooters and diagnosing their misses properly.

  • Practical Rifle Coach, Practical Pistol Coach, Practical Shotgun Coach.
  • Defensive Rifle, Shotgun & Pistol.
  • 3 Gun Coach.
  • Long Range/Hi-Powered Rifle Coach.
  • The NRA Practical Coaches Program will have training at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia and there are also several Level 1 Coaching courses listed online at www.nrainstructors.org/searchcourse.aspx

There are currently 7,000 NRA Certified Coaches and you can find out more by clicking on this link below. http://coaching.nra.org/

Next we had a short presentation from Rick Ector of Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit on how to grow your business. It was informative albeit too short due to time constraints.

Pro Tip: Make sure that you have your email address updated and current in the Instructor Portal at https://www.nrainstructors.org/InstructorAdmin/insLogin.aspx Many Instructors said they are not getting updates and the overlying reason why is because they do not have current contact information in the portal.

One last thought… “Blended Learning was designed for the student who has NEVER handled a gun.” – John Howard, NRA Education & Training National Manager.

Stay Safe and Train Hard!!!

– Gordon

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