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Latest post on Survivalblog.com, there is some really good stuff here:

My Lessons Learned From a Recent Tactical Shotgun Class, by Greg C.

By James Wesley, Rawles on October 31, 2010 12:06 AM

I recently took part in a Tactical Shotgun class with the US Training Center and learned a great deal. I am obviously not an operator and have not engaged dozens of insurgents, but I feel the training I received was logical and correct. I'll skip all of the obvious safety and protection comments which were part of the training and very well covered. I'll also not discuss the media hatchet job performed on their earlier incarnation "Blackwater". Here are my lessons learned from the three day class:
  1. Tactical does not mean cool looking, adorned with a plethora of accessories or clad in black. Tactical means light weight, easy to manage and successful in your mission. Eight pounds of shotgun, ammo and a light on your shotgun is manageable. Twelve pounds is less so. Speed and accuracy wins every time. Light weight equals speed. Accuracy is up to you.
  2. Equipment should be minimized. You don't need a laser sight, a spare light and multiple side saddles. You need A light (singular), a sling and a source of ammunition replenishment (speedfeed stock, A side saddle (singular), ammo belt, shell pouch, etc). Firing off eight hundred rounds with your selected equipment will tell you all you need to know about it. I saw after market parts flying off left and right-unfortunately even some of my own-occasionally factory parts from Remington 870s and Mossberg 590s. By the end of the class most students had taken half the extraneous stuff off their shotguns. Robust designs usually have the least amount of failures because they have the least amount of components that can fail.
  3. Train the way you plan to fight. If you are going to bring an ammo belt to a fight, don't practice with a shell pouch. If you are going to bring a side saddle to a fight, don't practice with a bandolier. Use the shotgun you are going to have access to in a tactical situation, not a different weapon. You must know how your weapon functions, because they are all different. And you must know how to feed your weapon from somewhere other than the magazine tube.
  4. Tailor your ammunition selection to your mission specific goals. Will you be shooting in an area that has paper thin walls? Will you possibly be "unlocking" doors and need breaching ammunition? Do you need to have precision or is it okay if a few of the projectiles stray a bit? Can you only have a single projectile?
  5. Pick at most two types of ammunition you want for a mission-imagine breaching a door with a slug, or thinking you have a non-lethal round chambered only to find out after the firing you had double aught buck. In a firefight, time doesn't slow down, it speeds up. Your skills diminish, even if you are an experienced gunfighter. You won't be able to keep track of the five different rounds you want to carry, so don't. Pick two. And don't think for a minute you can play "count the rounds" like you do when watching Dirty Harry.
  6. Learn how to reload quickly. If you have time, opportunity and cover, execute a tactical reload (load the magazine tube). Even if you only have two of the three, perform a tactical reload. If you have one or none of the three, perform a speed load. The speed load consists of turning the shotgun 90 degrees counterclockwise, dropping a round into the ejection port while the forearm is back, then shucking the round into the chamber. It's better to have that next round on hand, than a full tube without one in the chamber. It's all about having the next round. Depressing the trigger with no "boom" is more than an unfortunate event. Oh, and when tactical reloading, keep the butt on your hip or stomach and hold the muzzle towards the sky. Load the shotgun while looking straight ahead to keep an eye on your target and most importantly, finger off the trigger. With a little practice and discipline, you won't need to look down to reload-just watch your target instead.
  7. Diagnosing failures on the fly is critical. Is it a soft malfunction which you can clear by shucking the foreend, or do you need to dump the weapon (or sling it over your back) and reach for your pistol? Unless you have an obvious problem like a stovepipe hull sticking out of the ejection port, you will likely not know exactly what you have (double feed, binding of action arms failing to load a round, etc). The first thing you should do is rack the shotgun action, make sure safety is in the "Fire" position and fire the weapon. This should handle about 90% of malfunctions. If it doesn't, you may need to consider the above situation. Hard malfunctions usually require removing a shell from the receiver. This could consist of using your fingers, or a pliers/multitool to remove a shell. You may even need to go to a kneeling position and strike the recoil pad sharply on the ground while depressing the action lock lever to eject the spent casing. This must be done with care as you can break parts of the shotgun. Obviously, the hard failures take a lot longer to overcome. Again, time, opportunity and cover are needed to defeat a hard failure. This also underscores the importance of a sidearm.
  8. The fundamentals are key. There are seven: Grip, Stance, Sight Picture, Sight Alignment, Trigger Control, Breathing and Follow Through. These really apply to all shooting, but I think are especially important to shotgun work.
    1. Grip-this consists of the best way to hold onto a shotgun for firing and retention. A pistol grip isn't necessary, so don't let the movies fool you. A solid buttstock it a good idea if you are firing more than a few rounds. Aid your recoil with a proper grip and you will be able to require your next target more easily. The most important part of your grip is finding the pocket of the shoulder and mounting the stock in that crease. If you haven't ever fired a shotgun (I hadn't), it really isn't that bad, unless you don't have the stock buried in there. Leaving the stock an inch away from the shoulder pocket and then firing will leave a bruise. Find the shoulder pocket by pointing your arm out-where your chest meets your shoulder is the pocket.

      Something that is rarely discussed is how important it is to maintain your "Master Grip". This involves always keeping your trigger hand on the grip. I've seen a bunch of "experts" who load with their trigger hand and keep the opposite hand on the foreend. What is easier to do, move your trigger hand back to the grip or move your opposite hand to the foreend? How about under duress? If you need to squeeze off a round, it is a lot easier to simply bring the shotgun to your shoulder and balance it with your off hand. Fumbling for the grip and trigger will cost you extra time and it could be difference maker. Keep your master grip. Load with your off hand.
    2. Stance-there is some argument here, but we learned a symmetric style stance. Feet shoulder width apart, slight bend in the knees and more body weight on the front of your feet. Your chin, knees and toes should be in alignment with a slight hunched over stance to handle heavier recoil of the shotgun. Think boxer stance. Keep your elbows in and head upright-a nice cheek weld to the stock will help with a clean view down the sights. Keep both eyes open to aid in seeing additional threats peripherally-this was a fight for me with my dominant eye, but I learned to blink the non-dominant eye as needed. Eventually I overcame the need to close one eye when firing. The most legitimate reason for keeping both feet collinear is to allow for you to swing the left or right with ease. Changing directions can be difficult if you have one foot far ahead of the other. [JWR Adds: Another advantage is that when wearing body armor with a ballistic panel insert over your chest, this stance also provides the most effective armor protection.]
    3. Sight Alignment-the correlation between the front sight, rear sight and eyes of the shooter is sight alignment. If you don't have ghost ring or 3 dot sights, the bead should be placed in the middle, top half of the target projecting down the center of the shotgun receiver when viewed from the rear.
    4. Sight Picture-the link between the Sight Alignment to the target. The front sight should be in focus when aiming, not the target. Do not move your head down to the gun, thereby ruining your stance.
    5. Trigger Control-pulling the trigger smoothly to fire the weapon without altering the Sight Alignment/Sight Picture. This can be tough-you need to only move that one finger in a even fashion so that the discharge is a surprise. It is here that a typical flinch materializes when people anticipate the firing. A few soft malfunctions will make you aware of your flinch, if no one else is around to see you flinch when you practice. An inordinate amount of practice should remove the flinch.
    6. Breathing-a tactical situation will already rob you of your fine motor skills and even some of your gross motor skills. You don't want to lose any more of those skills by depraving your brain and body of oxygen. You may find that you need to remember to breathe if you are uptight in a firefight.
    7. Follow Through-this is the conclusion of firing the weapon properly. There are three main components
      1. Trigger reset-enabling you to fire another round
      2. Sight Picture acquisition-after the weapon fires, you need to assess the situation with these three questions
        1. Did I hit the target?
        2. Was the shot effective?
        3. Do I need to make a follow-up shot?
      3. Scan for additional threats and if possible perform a tactical reload. Be sure to follow through after each shot. Several times (especially early on) I found myself firing, popping my head up and then ejecting the round-this is a deadly habit to form. Follow through after every shot.
I have been very impressed with the instructing at US Training Center and would highly recommend them. I have taken some armorer courses with them and will be attending further pistol and rifle classes as well. I have never attended any of the other schools that are frequently mentioned on Survivalblog, but for the reasonable cost, quality of training, and multiple locations (main campus in North Carolina and satellite locations in Northern Illinois and Southern California ), I can't imagine a better place to learn. It is my understanding that as of October 1st of this year, the Northern Illinois campus will be changing their name to the North American Weapons and Tactical Training Center. But they will be retaining their staff and excellent training methods.
I have shot firearms for several years. This is my first experience with a shotgun however. I am looking forward to seeing how my skills firing other weapons have sharpened since taking the class. No matter where you are, find somewhere to train with good instruction. All of the magazine articles and opinions fall by the wayside when those shells are flying off to the side and you are suffering the weather, bugs and fatigue. As our friend Boston T. Party (author of Boston's Gun Bible) says, "Ammo turns money into skill". Indeed.

Training Sources for TEOTWAWKI, by Christopher E.

The reality of the situation is that tactical combat, survival and self defense training is not something that can be mastered in a week or a month. Training needs to be consistent to the point where the drills become as a reaction that you don't even have to think about it…. The point is that terrorists and threats to you have been in serious training for a long period of time while many of us still see the concept of learning the inner workings of firearms as being premature.
Private survival training in the present day has often been seen as an invitation to police repression. Examples such as the Black Panthers in the 1960's and the Militia movement of the 1990's are often sighted. For the most part these organizations stayed within the law and were mainly small groups of private citizens trying to exercise the same Rights as the founding fathers did at Lexington and Concord. The focus of these organizations was to make an expression through show of force.
Private firearms ownership in America for anything other than target shooting and hunting has been made to appear unwise and even illegal. For that reason people have become more dependent on the government for their defense than ever before. The reality is that in every one of the 50 states in the Union it is Legal to own and use a firearm in defense of life. What happens when the National Guard is called up and sent overseas? Do you know 30% of most local law enforcement are members of the Guard and reserve. We are becoming more and more dependent on Federal Law Enforcement… and a dependant, defenseless people is an enslaved people.
So you have a desire to train, to become confident in what you carry, how you carry it and what to do with it but you are not a member of the law enforcement community or the federal military. What can you do? How can you train?
Unregulated Live Fire Self-training
"Grab some rounds and head to the local dump or the woods and Go shoot"- NO
This is the worst thing you can do. Worse even than not training. If you go to the local shooting pit and blast a box or two of shells out all you are doing is shortening the life of your weapon and reinforcing bad habits. If you typically are doing something incorrect, odds are- without the proper practice to correct that bad habit- all you accomplish is building the wrong muscle memory. Guess what you are going to do when the SHTF? You will fall back on your worst training which is this.
Avoid this!
Regulated Self Training of Firearms
Research your courses of fire that are available. Go online and Google 'course of fire" and you will find any number of courses plainly outlined. These include Cooper Drills, Shoot and Move drills, Dozier Drills, the El Presidente, various courses used by law enforcement agencies such as the NYPD and LAPD, military courses of fire for rifles, pistols and shotguns. Go to an actual range (or build your own safe one using established range safety guidelines) and run these drills until you can do them correctly. Exercise your fundamentals of Sight picture, trigger control, good solid position, and breathing. Use actual targets instead of beer cans, washing machines and the like. Paper plates can be substituted.
Inquire around at local gun shops and sporting goods stores for local rifle and pistol clubs who offer regulated ranges and competition shoots in exchange for nominal fees. Many State Departments of Wildlife have free ranges that are open to the public at no fee. This will also introduce you to the best part of training which is networking. Make contacts with like-minded individuals that can help point you in the right direction for your goals.
Live Fire is only a small part of firearms training. You need to spend hours training with an unloaded and safe weapon for every minute you spend sending brass downrange. Again, exercise your fundamentals of sight picture, trigger control, good solid position, and breathing. Practice tactical reloads, administrative reloads, one-handed reloads (for if injured), drawing from cover, firing positions etc.
The Boy scouts
Yes I am speaking of the ubiquitous organization that is the BSA. They are faith based and are represented in every community large and small. They also are a cornerstone of one of the few organizations that still attempt to provide firearms training without profit. Get with your local troops and find out the contact for the Shooting Sports Council for your area. Volunteer your services as a Range officer for the Marksmanship classes they have during semi-annual jamborees. Many councils offer full fledged certified NRA Firearms Instructor certification classes at reduced cost (sometimes as low as $25) to volunteers willing to give up a few weekends of their time to help local scouts learn to shoot.
You can learn valuable skills, gain an expanded knowledge base and provide a legacy for our youth in the process. Again, you see the chance to network your training opportunities by making more contacts and sharing information.
Appleseed Groups-
The non-profit Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA) offers nationwide Appleseed Clinics that generally cost $70 for two days however, it is free for active military/guard/reserve, people who are under 21 years of age, and currently for 2010, women are also free. These provide training in long arms to a 'rifleman' qualification. They also offer longer week long courses and 30-hour instructor courses for much less than what you would get from the custom for-profit training academies.
Bring a rifle and a few hundred rounds of ammunition and put in some legitimate training. Spend your down time networking and making contacts to further your training.
PoliceOne Training Articles- Police Training Articles with hundreds of free articles such as "Training Police Recruits to Think", Relevant and Realistic Firearms Training on a Tight Budget" and "Watch Behavior Indicators for Potential Violence" this resource is vital to anyone who is looking for training needs. While these are written by law enforcement and security professionals for use by law enforcement and security professionals many of the same concepts hold true for a TEOTWAWKI situation, CCW holders, and anyone who just wants to gain the upper hand in a bad life or death situation when the zombies come.
Emergency Management Institutes-
Government and National organizations in partnership with colleges such as the University of Alabama- Birmingham Texas A&M and Tulane University officer online web interfaces such as the South Southern Public Health Partnership, FEMA's Emergency Management Institute, and the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center
These institutes lean mainly towards Health and Safety aspects of Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism with dozens of amazing free courses such as "Food as an Effective Weapon of Terrorism", "Preparedness: Factors for the Emergence/Reemergence of Infectious Diseases" Applied Epidemiology of Terrorist Events", "Agro-terrorism", and "Medical Effects of Primary Blast Injury" while they are dry are some of the best online training available from accredited sources.
Spend one night a week and devote four hours to one of these free classes. In a single year that is 52 classes under your belt. Take extensive notes that you can understand and create a chapbook with lessons you learned from each class. When the lights go out and the phones die the notebook can be your reference back to those night classes you took.
State Defense Forces
About half of the States in the Union offer a State Defense Force. These range from small relatively top heavy cadre groups such as the Mississippi State Guard to the large and very well organized 1000-manVirgina State Defense Force. Some 23 of these organizations are chartered by the state military department and work hand in hand with the local National Guard AG to perform "State's only" service as directed by the governor.
Many of these organizations offer membership regardless of physical conditions to residents with clean criminal records. They typically have monthly drills and an annual summer camp much like the regular National Guard. While some offer limited weapons training most are good for at least an introduction into basic military courtesy, field craft, land navigation, communications and other tasks that will come in handy post- TEOTWAWKI without being in danger of a federal call-up or the unfortunate stigma of 'militia groups'.
The Red Cross
Well known for more than a century of community outreach the American Red Cross is in every community. Contact your local chapter and inquire about joining their Disaster Action Team (DAT). In exchange for agreeing to help with local disaster response inside your own county the Red Cross will provide all the necessary training. A DAT team member is required to have the following training, at no charge to the volunteer: Orientation to Red Cross, Introduction to Disaster, Disaster Team Training, Standard First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Mass Care, Shelter Operations, Damage Assessment, Family Service and Providing Emergency Service.
Some of these courses will be more involved than others and each will have its own opportunity to learn lessons and new skills. Networking with individuals on your team can pay great dividends.
Conclusion
So what are we looking at for training as far as an outlay in money?
You can join your local State Defense Force for free, take classes online from the EMI, NEERTC and other agencies for free, catch the nearest Appleseed shoot for free (in some circumstances), help with the Boy scouts, browse online courses of fire and read your Police training articles all for free.
How about time?
Set up a schedule. Allocate one (four hour) night a week for online classes and articles. Schedule one full day a month (eight hours) to drill with your State Defense Force. Set aside one (four hour) night a week for regulated unloaded training with a safe weapon. Spend one (sight hour) full day a month on the range following a course of fire. Attend an Appleseed or Boy scout range when they come up to help brush up your skills and pass the knowledge along to others. Go to your Red Cross DAT team training dates.
This totals some 48-hours per month on average. This is a part-time job to learn the skill-set now that will be literally invaluable if the worst case scenario evolves and you have to utilize it.
As the old saying goes- it's better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nice write-up Greg....very well done. I read your comments and couldn't agree more. I've taken 3 tactical shotgun courses in the past couple of years and have totally enjoyed it. It seems that these days so many gravitate to the handgun courses and leave the long gun courses behind. If only they knew what they were missing. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good info. Thanks for posting.

That was interesting about loading with your weak hand while keeping your strong hand grip ready. I once posted on a gun board (can't remember where) about this, and received one insane flood of responses chastising me for my comment.

But at the same time, I do understand the argument of wanting your strong hand to perform the somewhat fine motor movements required to reload.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Very cool. Where would one look for courses like this in their area?
I'm thinking Google would be your friend in this case. I'm not aware of any national registry/listing, so to speak, for firearms training facilities or instructors.

I go to Front Sight, about 50 miles from Las Vegas, a couple of times a year with my shooting buddy. Got a carbine course coming up in a couple of weeks.....4 days of AR-15 shooting. It just don't get any better than that. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
But at the same time, I do understand the argument of wanting your strong hand to perform the somewhat fine motor movements required to reload.
I don't buy into the fact that my "weak" hand reloads any better or worse than my "strong" hand. Perhaps it is because I routinely run my computer mouse with either hand? :-o

Anyway, regardless of which hand would be more inclined to perform the reloading function, we practice doing it one way so that we can do it properly when our fine motor skills go away during a bad situation. I do all of my reloading using my weak hand....actually I prefer calling it my support hand, since that is what it is doing. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm completely in the camp with keeping the strong hand ready to to shoot again - it seems to me that a bad guy could just as easily come around the corner while you're reloading and you want to be able to fire back as soon as possible.

On that note - I'm curious why they would have you pointing skyward while reloading - or is it just contingent upon the situation? I was taught to keep the gun on your shoulder pointed towards the possible threat (again for the fastest possible reaction), but I suppose if you're taking cover that's not always an option. Did they elaborate on that at all?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
On that note - I'm curious why they would have you pointing skyward while reloading - or is it just contingent upon the situation? I was taught to keep the gun on your shoulder pointed towards the possible threat (again for the fastest possible reaction), but I suppose if you're taking cover that's not always an option. Did they elaborate on that at all?
The OP mentioned that as being used with a tactical reload. During a tactical reload, you are not actively engaging a target. Keeping a shotgun in your shoulder pocket with your strong hand would get tiring....at least for me it would. A tactical reload is performed when you have a lull in the fight....or perhaps the fight is over as far as you know but you would want a topped off weapon should the bad guy's friend(s) show up. You would still be scanning your surroundings....topping off the magazine as you do. Having it positioned the way the OP mentioned would allow you to quickly regain a shooting position should the need arise.

At least, that is the way I see it.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Learn how to reload quickly. If you have time, opportunity and cover, execute a tactical reload (load the magazine tube). Even if you only have two of the three, perform a tactical reload. If you have one or none of the three, perform a speed load. The speed load consists of turning the shotgun 90 degrees counterclockwise, dropping a round into the ejection port while the forearm is back, then shucking the round into the chamber. It's better to have that next round on hand, than a full tube without one in the chamber. It's all about having the next round. Depressing the trigger with no "boom" is more than an unfortunate event. Oh, and when tactical reloading, keep the butt on your hip or stomach and hold the muzzle towards the sky. Load the shotgun while looking straight ahead to keep an eye on your target and most importantly, finger off the trigger. With a little practice and discipline, you won't need to look down to reload-just watch your target instead.

  1. Follow Through-this is the conclusion of firing the weapon properly. There are three main components
    1. Trigger reset-enabling you to fire another round
    2. Sight Picture acquisition-after the weapon fires, you need to assess the situation with these three questions
      1. Did I hit the target?
      2. Was the shot effective?
      3. Do I need to make a follow-up shot?
    3. Scan for additional threats and if possible perform a tactical reload. Be sure to follow through after each shot. Several times (especially early on) I found myself firing, popping my head up and then ejecting the round-this is a deadly habit to form. Follow through after every shot.
Excellenct Write up I loved the training I recieved at US training Center. I want to go back for more training, especially shotgun training. I had a couple questions.

For the Tactical reload they had you taking out of your shoulder and putting it in your stomach or on your hip and tactically loading there? Was this part of your "workspace"?

And Just a question did they stress the 360 awareness as part of your scan? One of my favorite drills I took away from my training there was the Instuctor standing behind us holding up the amount of fingers to simulate a new threat. and to engage our target again with that amount of rounds.

For the shotgun what stances did they have? High Ready, Low Ready, and Entry ready?

Thank you again for sharing
 
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