View Full Version : Remedial Shotgun Technique 101: how to properly load shells?

September 23, 2002, 11:25 PM
I’m well versed in handguns but a dummy in SG. I’ll be signing up for a class soon enough, but in the mean time I need some help on proper techniques to avoid developing any bad habits. What’s the tactically correct way to load shells into a Rem 870 for a right handed shooter? Stuff them in with your right hand or left hand? Thanks.

Dave McC
September 24, 2002, 05:10 AM
Read old threads on Crisis Management Reloading and 870 Clearance Drills, there's good input there. Note that some very good shotgunners use different methods.


September 24, 2002, 08:49 AM
Thanks Dave. "Crisis" was an excellent thread. Just as I thought, there are different strokes for different folks.

Dave McC
September 24, 2002, 04:44 PM
Glad to help,CC. IMO, the best way to learn would be to use some dummy rounds and try out a few things to see what works for you.

The method I advocate first in "Crisis" is similar to what I taught to a few hundred COs. Most had little problem with that, but still it's best to see how the options do under real world conditions.

Like anything else related to firearms, get precision down first, then work on speed.


September 24, 2002, 05:33 PM
Brass last. :p

September 25, 2002, 11:23 AM
Most instructors will tell you that you'll need all your dexterity to try to do anything involving fairly small objects fast and accurately; this usually means using your strong hand to load the shells while you support the firearm in your "weak" hand.

Dave McC
September 26, 2002, 04:44 AM
SDC, this is true but....

Training reduces the chances of fumbles to near zero, if done well and often.

Did you see the shotgun finals on ESPN's Outdoor Games? The final stage was shot in 5 clay stages, and the shooter could use two shots on each if needed.Time frames were short. All the finalists were great shots,but the guy who won was stuffing shells into his auto very, very quickly.

In a crisis, we do what we did in training. Training can keep us alive, or kill us rather quickly. In older times, lots of dead cops were found with empty 38s, and empty brass clutched in their hands. They trained to empty their brass into their hands so it wouldn't have to be picked up afterwards.Just before the big switch to autos for agencies, many depts boasted cops capable of 2 second,unfumbled reloads for a revolver. The difference was proper, realistic training.

When it hits the fan, we revert to reflex and training. The symptoms of extreme adrenaline inducing stimulation give us tunnel vision, greater strength, lesser co-ordination, and so on. If we have trained to load a certain way, we'll do the same under terror inducing conditions. So let's make that training work in our favor.

Next range day, try loading a few from your SideSaddle, butt cuff, belt, wherever the backup ammo is. And realistic training will show us what works for us, and under what conditions. Again, go for precision first, then speed.


September 26, 2002, 06:30 AM
You may consider purchasing one of the shotgun training videos so you can visually see the proper handling. You can read about the techniques and still do it wrong without knowing it.

September 28, 2002, 07:48 PM
I always load my shotguns one shell at a time.

September 30, 2002, 12:08 PM
Things may have changed since I last took a combat shotgun class (and that wouldn't surprise me), but the way it was explained to me at that time was that expecting your "weak" hand (read less skilled, ie. more likely to fumble at a critical moment) to be able to quickly and properly manipulate those slick shells, is just asking for trouble; the only time they had us load with the off-hand was when you had to remain "on target", or when you just had to throw a loose round into the ejection port.

October 1, 2002, 01:36 PM
I keep the gun on my shoulder and load with my off hand. One round at a time. Thought I was pretty good about it until I went to the WC3gun and watched the best shotgunners.

You have to see it to believe it. These guys have practiced so much, so that they can reach down to their belt, draw FOUR (yes 4!) shells at one time, and they shove them all into the gun at the same time. snik, snik, snik, snik. 4 shells in like a second and a half. No fumbling, nothing. And this is done while on the move, and once while CRAWLING under cover.

I got to one of the guys to demonstrate his technique to me after the match. It is amazing. He said that 3 is relatively easy, but 4 requires tons of practice.

October 1, 2002, 02:01 PM
I guess that's one advantage to being left-eye dominant and shooting a longarm left-handed. My "strong hand" still maintains a firing grip while my "really strong hand" reloads the shotgun. :p