View Full Version : new 870 express for HD but range won't allow buck shot

March 28, 2006, 09:07 PM
Yesterday, I got (and shot (#6 bird shot)) my first shotgun, an 18" 870 express. I've a bunch of pistols, a couple of rifles, but I've never had a shotgun. I was thinking of using it for HD (along with my Glock 20) and I know buck shot is recommended for that use. The problem is that my range, apart from the skeet or trap or whatever it's called ("clay throwers") area, only allows shotguns to be shot at one target at the 25 yard line of the public 100 yrd rifle area and you're not allowed to shoot anything larger than #4 birdshot at that one target. This limitation is imposed to keep the wooden frames from being destroyed by the heavier loads. Now, you are allowed to shoot slugs at other targets (25 yrds recommended) at the 100 yrd range.

So, my problem is that I'd like to use buck shot in my gun at home but can't test it at the range. Any suggestions? Can I simulate shooting buck shot by shooting slugs (does the recoil feel the same), and, if so, can someone recommend proper slugs for this purpose. I was thinking I might be able to talk a range master into letting me shoot buck shot directly into the berm before anyone shows up at the range to test whether my gun cycles/handles the buckshot properly. So, if I could test the functionality of my gun with buckshot by shooting into the berm and then learn how to handle a shotgun by shooting slugs that mimic the recoil of buck shot I'd be set. Or am I just totally out to lunch with that idea and just plain out of luck?

Mesa Tactical
March 29, 2006, 09:05 AM
You need to practice with buck, if for no other reason to become familiar with how SPECIFIC ammunition patterns in YOUR weapon. It doesn't hurt to practice with slugs, but the recoil is different and in any case you can't familiarize yourself with the shot pattern. And you don't want to be using slugs for home defense.

Your idea of talking to the rangemasters is a good one. You can usually do all kinds of things at a range prohibited to the general public if you get to know the operators and convince htem you are a safe and skilled shooter.

But if you are new to shooting, and not involved in any training or competition, you might not get very far going down this path. I'd say find another range. Jacksonville must have a few. Even here in Greater Los Angeles we have a pretty reasonable selection of ranges.

March 29, 2006, 10:33 AM
Thanks for the advice, Mesa Tactical. Yeah, I'm an absolute beginner with shotguns and was unaware of the need for determining the patterning of the specific gun with the specific load. I posted at several at several other sites and was told the same (there's even a Patterning 101 sticky at thehighroad.org!). I mostly shoot handguns at an indoor range 10 min. from my house because the outdoor range is 30 min away, but I'm going to follow your advice and shoot there more often and hope to build a rapport with the range masters so they (and, some of the hunters) help me out. They also have a rimfire-only silhouette range that looks like it might be kinda fun, and I'm thinking of picking up a gun for that. I think that's the biggest range in Jax and the surrounding area, but I'm going to start asking around about other options.

March 29, 2006, 02:10 PM
Target frames are relatively cheap, especially when compared to the price of buckshot and slugs. Offer to pay the cost of the target frame and they might go for it. At our range the target frames cost about $5.00 to build (excluding labor).

March 29, 2006, 05:54 PM
I dont know about Florida but in Wa you can shoot in state and national forest. I'd take some cardboard or scrap plywood up in the woods and test at different ranges.

Death from Afar
March 29, 2006, 06:17 PM
+1 AA. Thats good advice. Wow, wont allow buckshot? Dont they have a berm you can shoot into? A blast of #6 over time will damge a frame as much as 00.

March 29, 2006, 06:28 PM
Thanks for the advice, guys. I went to my gunshop to pick up a marlin 60 to shoot at the rimfire-only silhoutte area, and told all the guys buckshot was prohibited at the range and one of the guys behind the counter couldn't believe my statement and told me he knows a fellow that's always in the shop buying buckshot to shoot there. So, maybe that guy is in with the range officers and they might might be more accommodating (especially if replaces destroyed frames per AAshooter's suggestion), so once folks over there know me maybe they'll cut me some slack. Also, in line with jhgreasemonkey's thought, a gun shop guy told me there is a unmonitored (by range officers) public range at Osceola National Forrest which is about 1 hr. away. I asked if you could shoot buck shot there, he said no, but that everyone did anyway. I CCW and I'm not about to break any gun laws and jeopardize my CCW.

A guy at thehighroad.org said that most ranges would allow folks to pattern their shotguns at the trap area if they explained their need to the range officer, so I'll give that a shot. Thanks again for all the tips - I'm in a new arena and I need to find my way around some.

March 29, 2006, 07:02 PM
Our range allows for patterning in the trap area but restrict you to 7 1/2's, 8's or 9's. No buck shot. The turkey and geese hunters aren't too happy either.

March 31, 2006, 08:47 AM
Good news for me. I was at the range yesterday and spoke to another range officer, the head guy, and I said, "I've a new shotgun and I'd like to pattern it with buckshot, but was told you can't shoot buckshot here." He said, "you're a member here (they also allow non-member 'day shooters' at 2 areas) and you can shoot into the berm at area X (I think he said 'trap area')." I think might have been able to get a like response from the first range officer had I been knowledgeable enough then to ask "can I just pattern a new gun", but I'm a day 1 beginner with shotguns and have only been to that range a few times, so I didn't know how to handle things. Thanks for all the info, suggestions, and guidance.

March 31, 2006, 08:48 AM
I live about 35 miles south west of jax there is a state range in Lake City off of 100a bypass that is operated by fish and wildlife.also someone at green acres or gateway could proably give you info on where you could pattern your 870 Good Luck

March 31, 2006, 09:59 AM
Hey neighbor. Yeah, rhoffler, I thought the guy at the gun shop said "Osceola", but when I looked into things online it turned out it was in fact "Ocala", the place to which you refer. Also, the range I'm referring to is Gateway and, like I posted above, I think my problem originated by my not knowing enough to ask if I could just pattern the gun as opposed to doing full fledged shooting at a frame held target. I really don't know my way around Gateway yet, but I think it's a real nice range (a guy just yesterday said it was one of the very best he'd ever been to and he seemed experienced). You should check it out if you haven't already. Thanks for the tip on the public shooting range.

March 31, 2006, 07:55 PM
Jefs, head out West on I-10 to the gun range Lake City. You can pattern your buck shot there. Its off US 90, just inside the Osceola National Forest. There is a range in Ocala also, but LC is a lot closer for you.
I know Gateway R&P club well. I have been shooting there for about 35 years now.