Choosing the correct model of shotgun is a task that involves determining need, desire and affordability. Let us examine each in turn and then go over the specifics needed to understand when choosing the right gun.
Some skeet shooters will want a shotgun purely for the sport of skeet, whilst others will want a gun suitable for both skeet and field shooting.
For field hunters, what shotgun to choose is as important as determining what to hunt. In fact, the decisions go hand-in-hand because the game size can and will determine the size of ammunition and size of the shotgun itself. For smaller game, going with a smaller shotgun is common sense. Why take a gun that is the wrong size for the job?
For bigger game, choose a gun that best fits your needs. If the game is sparse and you know the wait will be long and the action tedious, choose a lightweight gun that is easy to handle and easy to clean. It is even more important to have a gun that can be cleaned with ease when the action is more vigorous and more often. Getting a gun that is easy to load and operate is essential in the field.
How often will you use the gun? If the answer is often, the gun size and durability become even more important. Be aware of the amount of recoil and select a gun that will fit in with your physical abilities. Choose something that you will want to use often. If the kick of firing becomes physically demanding or even painful, you will not want to go hunting with it, let alone skeet shooting.
Also weather conditions can affect the choice of model. Be sure to get one that is all weather approved and can handle any type of condition whether it is rain, hard sleet, snow or heavy winds. Having the proper shotgun in hand that can handle these types of weather is essential.
Should your shotgun be a patented autoloader? It depends on how fast you want repeat action but the newer models pretty much come with automatic load as a standard function of the gun. Reloading can be an issue if the game is fast and frightens easily. Having a lightweight gun that reloads quickly is important.
There are others hunters, however, that would rather have a heavier shotgun with a bigger bore size to take down the game with one clean shot. These are the more patient huntsmen who take their time and do not mind having a larger kick to their shotguns if they can get a bigger shot and larger ammunition. It is a personal choice which way to go but one that must be made before purchase.
So, whether it is for competition or recreation, having a high quality shotgun on hand is a good idea. Even if practicing on your own, one must be concerned with the safety of themselves and others. Be sure to follow all federal and state regulations regarding the use of such shotguns and be aware of where and how to use them.
In the matter of competition, the bore size is important to all participants. The maximum load permissible is a gauge of 12. The smallest is a gauge of .410. This makes the ounce range of lead from one and one eighth down to one half. Most events are open to guns of a .410 bore standard. All rules of skeet shooting are available through the National Skeet Shooting Association web site.
Choosing a shotgun for performance during a competition is a matter of personal preference but the same rules apply as with hunting. Most competitors prefer using a gun they are familiar with, so using the same shotgun for practice (or game hunting) and competition is the way to go. Get familiar with the gun first, then use it well.
Many models offer a competition style gun that fits the specific needs of skeet shooters everywhere. Most competitors prefer 12 gauge guns and an over under loading model. But still others want to have automatic loading so they have a few extra shots on hand in the field if game is plentiful. For Skeet, the rules will prevent you from having more than two shots at a pair of targets.
Another consideration for choosing your shotgun is barrel length. The longer the barrel the further the shot can travel. However, a longer barrel makes the gun heavier, changes the centre of gravity and can also become cumbersome to swing if your a woods huntsman.
Finally, many skeet shooting guns have what is known as adjustable choke. These are small cylinders inserted into the end of the barrel of the gun with different restriction properties. They allow the shot to be more tightly grouped (choked) as it leaves the barrel and thus prevents early dispertion of the shot. This means the shot is more effective over longer distances but does require better accuracy from the shooter.
The choice of what shotgun to use comes down to the individual user and what they are most comfortable with. Try out different models and see what feels right in your hand when you hold it, aim it and fire with it. Sometimes people want a larger bore size with more power but do not like the stronger kick.
Others want a smaller gun that is lightweight and easier to handle. They want something fast and durable to be better able to handle the quick reaction times a competition requires. Again, everyone is different and their needs and desires differ as well. Try a few different guns with different features and see what feels right.
How much to spend on the shotgun is determined by how often you will use it and how serious you are about either hunting or skeet shooting or both. An average good model of shotgun is going to cost you in the region of $400 – $700 but you can also buy professional models or something of much higher quality for thousands of dollars if you are inclined.