Stopped once again at Targetmaster today for a long-planned purchase: a year-long membership to the shooting range. I went with a mid-level membership, which gives free, unlimited range time and free non-full-auto rentals. Kinda pricy, but given the amount of shooting & renting I plan to do, it should pay for itself pretty quickly. Also picked up a case of Remington 9mm ammo. They had it in stock, and at a decent price to boot. And given the nation-wide ammo shortage, who knows when I’d see a deal like that again? So I jumped on it.
Anyway, I’d gone to Targetmaster not only to get the membership, but also to get some practice with my P228 Now, their range offers many different firearms to rent, long guns as well as handguns (and some full-autos too!), and on a whim, I decided to rent a shotgun. Specifically, a Remington 870 Tactical with a BLACKHAWK Spec-Ops II stock. They had an 870 with a “regular” stock as well, but given that a) the Spec-Ops contains a recoil-reduction mechanism, and b) I’d never fired a shotgun before and therefore had no idea what the recoil from a 12-gauge pump gun shooting buckshot felt like, I figured that I’d play it safe.
Okay, yes, I wimped out.
Side-note: I have handled both the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 in the past, and while both are fine, quality firearms, I prefer the Mossberg as I find the placement of the safety & action release to be more intuitive and therefore easier to manipulate. Unfortunately, Targetmaster does not appear to have any Mossberg shotguns available for rent, so I went with the Remington.
Okay, back on topic: Targetmaster allows you to shoot shotguns so long as you use either buckshot or slugs. Birdshot & target loads are a no-go because the pellets are apparently so light and moving so (relatively) slow that they have a tendency to ricochet off the back-stop and spray everywhere. Makes a mess, and poses a hazard to the shooters on the line. So I bought a box of Remington low-recoil 00-buckshot shells, got set up, loaded up a single shell, and fired.
Within about five seconds of putting that shell downrange, I came to a conclusion: I need a shotgun. Not want, need. Forget home defense, forget hunting, forget skeet & trap shooting. Shotguns are just fun to shoot. A whole lot of fun! Seriously, it took me the better part of an hour to wipe the grin off my face that that first shell put there.
Unfortunately, despite the recoil-reducing buttstock and low-recoil loads, the shotgun still beat me up a bit. I’m writing this about four hours after I finished shooting and my shoulder is still sore. But that’s not the shotgun’s fault: it’s mine. See, the BLACKHAWK! stock is adjustable, and I didn’t think to adjust it to the proper length of pull before I started shooting. It was too long, so as a result my shooting stance was all messed up (could barely reach the fore-end). My shoulder was aching after the first few shells, but I didn’t bother adjusting it until I was about halfway through my 25-round box. Shortened the stock by one notch, and that seemed to do the trick. I wasn’t getting beat up anymore. Next time, I think I’ll rent the standard-stock 870 and see how I do with that. Because honestly, in spite of all I’ve read about 12-gauge having vicious recoil, once I got the stock adjusted properly, shooting it was really quite pleasant.
So, like I said, I’ve discovered that shotguns are a TON of fun to shoot, and that I need one badly.