Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shotguns and Real Advice

Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself “That could never happen, but I like it!” Most of what we see in movies is unbelievable but it’s fun to see the unbelievable happen. Even though shark activity was not particularly high or unusual, in 1975 when the movie “Jaws” came out, people stayed away from the beach. Even though if you talk to a shark specialist, no great white shark ever acted like the one in the movie. It’s pure fiction. Even with that knowledge, people stayed away from the beach. Sadly, movies have power.
Movies teach a lot of false things. Especially when it comes to weapons. A gun in a movie keeps shooting even though the rate of fire on a M16 is 700 rounds per minute. That would mean that a 30 round magazine would last about 12 seconds. That’s not very dramatic.
Shotguns are no different. I’ve heard many people say that racking the slide on a pump 12 gauge would scare them into not messing with someone. I would like to dispel some of those myths.
A shotgun can be an excellent home defense weapon. But for reasons other than the average person would think.
Some think that you do not have to aim a shotgun. Try to skeet shoot without aiming. Yes you do have to aim a shotgun. Most shotguns used for home defense will be shot from between 10 to 20 feet. Those that believe you do not have to aim a shotgun have been told that when a shotgun is fired the spread of the shot will turn the pattern into a foot wide “claymore mine” effect. Buck shot fired from a standard 12 gauge spreads at a rate of between one half inch and one full inch per yard so if you are shooting at somebody fifteen feet across your living room, the spread is only going to be one and a half to three inches. That’s better than a 9mm round, but as you can see, you still would need to aim.
Another crazy idea that may, or may not, have come from movies. A shotgun round is safer as far as penetration through walls. In truth a 00 buck shot pellet will go right through drywall, and can even go through wood paneling at the ranges that we are talking about in most confrontations in the home.
If you are using a slug, rather than shot, it will go through your wall, the neighbor’s apartment, and their far wall as well. But what about bird shot? At close range even bird shot can go through drywall, although the chances of it happening are slimmer. The real problem with using bird shot for home defense is lack of stopping power. With bird shot you are as nearly likely to anger the intruder as you are to drop him. Even former vice president Cheney shot a seventy-eight year old man in the face with a load of bird shot while hunting, and he pulled through just fine.
The last thing I think is such rotten advice is that the mere sound of a shotgun rack will turn you into something to be feared. This advice could get you killed. If you decide on a shotgun for home defense, learn to use it effectively and the limitations of the weapon and load. Don’t rely on some lame brains idea that sound will defend you. You might as well just yell down the hall “My husband has a gun!” Let me give you my take on a scenario.
3 in the morning you hear a crash in your living room. It sounds like glass breaking. No one else lives in your house and no one has a key to your house. You grab your combat shotgun that you have taken numerous classes with. You practice at the range often with this weapon and feel confident in shooting with it. It is equipped with a quality tactical flashlight. You tell your wife to call 911 and stay on the line after requesting help. You stage yourself out of sight from the door way yet you have a clear view of the door yourself. You are ready for someone to step into your “fatal funnel”.
You notice I did not say anything about making an announcement that you are armed. I also did not say anything about that “scary” racking of the slide that so many advise. If you announce yourself or rack the slide you give away your position and let the adversary know your armament. The invader is at a great disadvantage. He doesn’t know your house. He doesn’t know you’re armed. He’s not even sure how many people are in the house. You are at least behind concealment. And then you have the advantage of having a doorway he must come through. This is what we call the fatal funnel. A 36 inch doorway is not much room to move around in. With your flashlight you can have target identification and with the funnel you can have a clear field of fire. I don’t think it’s a good idea to give any intel to someone who may kill you and yours for little or nothing. If you felt so inclined to give away your position you should say something that may help your case in the future like “Don’t make me shoot you!” But that is only if you feel the situation is right.
If you do feel the rack will be a deterrent then you will probably have one of two reactions. Flight or fight. You’re looking for flight, but if the intruder decides on fight, I would hope you would not give away any intel.

Now that a shotgun has been put in a truthful light, is it still right for you? You must decide but with the proper information. I like a shotgun as a defensive tool, but I also have a baseball bat and billy club handy. I also have handguns available in different locations. I believe in options. Consider a less than lethal weapon to give you a choice in how you deal with different threats that may present themselves.

Semper Paratus
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