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Target Tactics (REGPCEC)

TopicOutdoor Skills - Live Firing
This lesson will teach the basic characteristics of a shotgun. Participants will learn safety tips and proper carrying positions. It can be taught in the classroom or as a “hands on” lesson that includes live firing.
Grade LevelK - 12
Recommended SettingIndoor or outdoor classroom
LocationRick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center, Columbus
Education Program Coordinator, 800-983-4219
Duration45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of Participants10 - 30
  • Discuss basic parts of a shotgun.
  • Learn basic shooting safety rules and how to handle a firearm.
  • Practice shooting a firearm (if applicable).
Key Terms*




Barrel selector

Bolt action


Break action








Cradle carry

Dominant eye

Double-hand carry

Elbow carry



Full choke



Improved cylinder

Lever action



Modified choke




Pellets (shot)


Pump action







Shoulder carry




Sling carry


Sporting clays


Trail carry




AGFC “Hunter Education Manual”

Barrel obstruction prop

BB gun/BBs (live firing)

“Black’s Wing and Clay Waterfowl: The Complete Shotgunner’s Guide”

Current AGFC hunter casualty report

Disposable earplugs (required)

Dummy guns/dummy ammo (demonstration)

Protective eyewear (required)

Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center’s current range brochure

Shotgun shooting discipline notebook published by the National Rifle Association

Shotguns/shotgun shells (live firing) or shotshell props

Target Tactics trunk

Ten Commandments of Gun Safety poster


Video - “From Basic BB Gun to Successful Shotgun Shooting”


Shooting sports can be safe and enjoyable leisure time activities. It is crucial for anyone who handles a firearm to practice standard firearm procedures and precautions. Youth should be trained by a responsible, knowledgeable instructor.

  1. After introducing the instructors, review the class agenda and training purpose. Show the participants a shotgun (a BB or “dummy” gun can be used). As the participants are looking at the gun, discuss the following:
    • Three major sections of a firearm (stock, action, barrel)
    • Firearm characteristics (gauge, chokes)
    • Action (pump, semiautomatic and break). Be prepared to discuss bolt.
    • Safeties
    • Ammunition
  2. Introduce these commandments of shooting safety:
    • Treat every firearm with the same respect due a loaded firearm.
    • Control the direction of your firearm’s muzzle.
    • Carry the firearm safely, keeping the safety on until ready to shoot.
    • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
    • Identify your target and what is beyond it.
    • Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that you have only properly sized ammunition for the firearm.
    • Unload firearms when not in use. Leave the actions open.
    • Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot.
    • Avoid all horseplay with a firearm.
    • Never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch or log with a loaded firearm.
    • Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle.
    • Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water.
    • During target practice, be sure your backstop is adequate.
      Store firearms and ammunition separately beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
    • Avoid alcoholic drinks or other mood-altering drugs before or while shooting.
  3. The following should be explained in detail. These are ways a person violates safety rules, uses poor judgment or lacks skill.
    • Shooter swings on game/partner
    • Shooter sticks barrel in mud/snow
    • Shooter props gun against an insecure rest
    • Shooter points gun at partner
    • Shooter uses wrong ammunition
    • Shooter is not familiar with the gun
    • Shooter does not use the safety
    • Shooter trips and falls
    • Shooter rests gun on foot
    • Shooter crosses an obstacle unsafely
  4. See if participants can devise other mishaps that could occur.
  5. Discuss a current hunter’s casualty report for the local area. This will give a better understanding of how important hunter safety is.
  6. Introduce the appropriate carrying positions of a firearm. Demonstrate each position and when it is appropriate.
    • Double-hand carry (offers the best control)
    • Cradle carry
    • Shoulder carry (avoid if someone is behind)
    • Elbow carry (least muzzle control, avoid if someone is in front)
    • Sling carry
    • Trail carry (avoid if someone is in front)
  7. Several safety tips should be reiterated, especially muzzle control. Show the video to reinforce what has been taught.
  8. After the video, let them practice. Demonstrate and practice the following:
    • Establish which eye is dominant
    • Fit the gun to the shooter
    • Mount the gun
    • Shooter stance
    • Practice maneuvering through different areas such as a ditch, fence, gate, brush, etc.
    • Demonstrate loading and unloading using dummy ammo
  9. After they have practiced and if they will be using the range for practice, go over the rules they must follow. Require participants to use eye and hearing protection and then continue to the firing range .
  • Name and demonstrate the six types of carrying positions.
  • List the commandments of shooting safety.
  • What are the three major sections of a firearm?

Action – moving parts of a shotgun that allow it to be loaded, fired and unloaded (See Breech, Chamber, Trigger); or the part of the firearm that loads, fires and discharges the bullet; the five types are bolt, lever, pump (slide), semiautomatic and break (hinge)

Ammunition – any powder, shot, cartridge or shell used in a firearm

Barrel – tube that the bullet goes down when a firearm is fired

Barrel selector
– determines which barrel of a double-barrel gun will fire

Bolt action – type of firearm that loads and unloads ammunition by working the bolt

Bore – interior diameter of a gun barrel, which will vary according to the gun’s design and intended use; size of the bore is indicated by the term gauge

Break action – a type of firearm that opens at the breech and shells are loaded by hand

Breech – end opposite of the muzzle or the end of the barrel nearest the stock

Butt – part of the stock that is held against the shoulder

Cartridge – round of ammunition that includes primer, powder, wad, case and bullet or shot; shotgun cartridges are centerfire (see Centerfire)

Centerfire – type of ammunition in which the primer is the center of the cartridge

Chamber – part of the action, at the breech end of the barrel, where the shot shell is placed

Choke (full, modified, improved cylinder) – part of a shotgun at the muzzle that controls the spread of the shot and its pattern; the degree of narrowing of the bore at the muzzle end of the barrel, intended to increase the gun’s range

Comb – side of the stock that fits against the cheek

Cradle carry – gun-carrying technique that involves cradling the barrel of the firearm in the bend of one arm and using the other hand to hold the small of the stock

Dominant eye – eye that sends more accurate visual information to the brain

Double-hand carry – gun-carrying technique that involves using both hands to carry the firearm (grip and forearm) and is considered the most stable

Elbow carry – gun-carrying technique that involves hooking the forearm over the elbow as the main support with the muzzle pointing at the ground

Firearm – tool which shoots a projectile by burning gunpowder

Forearm/Forend – part of the stock under the barrel

Full choke – tightest constriction of the bore, producing the greatest effective range

Gauge – interior diameter of the bore of a shotgun; the smaller the number, the larger the bore size; modern shotguns are 10, 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauges except for the .410 bore shotgun, which is actually a 67 gauge

Grip – narrow part of the stock held with the trigger hand

Improved cylinder – a good all-around choke less constricted than a modified or full choke

Lever action – firearm that loads and unloads ammunition by working the lever

Magazine – part of the repeating firearm that holds ammunition until it is ready to be fed into the chamber

Marksmanship – skill in placing a shot or hitting a target

Modified choke – moderate constriction or narrowing of the bore

Muzzle – end of the barrel from which the shot exits; smallest part of the barrel

Over-and-under – two-barrel shotgun with one barrel placed over the other; American version of the standard British game shooting gun

Pattern – concentration of shot measured in a circle at a given range, usually 30 to 40 yards

Pellets (shot) – small, round balls of lead or steel that are shot in a pattern

Primer – cap that sets fire to the powder when struck by the firing pin

Pump action – type of firearm that loads and unloads ammunition by pumping the forearm back and forth between shots

Recoil – kickback of a firearm when fired or the force with which the gun moves backwards into the shoulder when fired

Repeater – shotgun that holds more than one cartridge and can fire several shots before reloading

Safety (firearm) – device that, in the “on” position, should prevent the gun from firing; in many field guns the safety is automatically engaged when the gun is opened; in other guns, particularly competition grades, the safety must be manually engaged

Semiautomatic – action firearm that fires, ejects the spent cartridge and chambers a new cartridge with a single pull of the trigger; action in which gas from the shell’s burning gunpowder ejects the spent shell and loads another; noted for minimal recoil

Shot – round projectiles, usually of lead or steel; depending on shot size and load, a shell can contain 45 to 1,170 shot

Shotshell – shot and other parts of ammunition for shotguns packaged in a container or shell

Shoulder carry – gun-carrying technique that uses the shoulder as a support and a hand grip to secure it with muzzle pointing up

Side-by-side – a shotgun with two barrels sitting side by side; in Great Britain, the standard game shooting gun

Sights – parts of a firearm which help in aiming

Skeet (high house and low house) – shooting where clay targets are thrown to simulate the angled flights of birds; angles differ through eight shooting positions, and speed and target size are consistent

Sling carry – gun-carrying technique of hanging the firearm from one shoulder by a sling while gripping the sling at your shoulder with the hand on the carrying side; muzzle points up

Smoothbore – smooth part of the inside of a shotgun barrel as opposed to the rifled bore of a rifle

Sporting clays (walk-thru, tower, 5-stand) – shotgunning sport where clay targets simulate ducks, dove, quail, and/or rabbits; angles may vary throughout shooting stations and target sizes can vary

Stock – “handle” of the shotgun and held to the shoulder, comprising the butt, comb and grip

Trail carry – gun-carrying technique that involves gripping the stock with one hand with the muzzle pointing down

Trap (standard) – shooting sport where clay targets are thrown in a flight pattern in front and away from the shooter through five stations; targets are the same size and can veer left or right

Trigger – finger-pulled lever(s) that drives the firing point forward and fires a gun