How to Aim a Shotgun Correctly

How to Aim a Shotgun Correctly


In the world of shooting sports and hunting, proper shotgun aiming is an essential skill. Whether you're a beginner looking to get started or an experienced shooter aiming to refine your skills, understanding how to aim a shotgun correctly is crucial. 

In this guide, we'll provide step-by-step instructions and practical tips to help you improve your accuracy and consistency. So, let's dive right in.


how to aim a shotgun correctly


How to Shoot a Shotgun


Never used a shotgun before? No worries. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to aim and shoot a shotgun like a pro in no time:


1) Know Your Shotgun


man loading bullets into a shotgun
Credit: Envato Elements/ romankosolapov


Before we delve into aiming techniques, it's vital to understand your shotgun. Shotguns come in various styles and gauges, each with unique characteristics. Familiarize yourself with your shotgun's model, gauge, and any additional features it may have, such as choke tubes, sights, or recoil pads. The more you know about your firearm, the better you can tailor your aiming approach to it.


2) Get Into the Right Position


woman holding shotgun wearing camo shirt

Credit: Envato Elements/ vlad_star


The first thing to do when aiming a shotgun is to make sure you're in the correct firing position. To do this, lift the shotgun with your hands and, while keeping it in the same position, bring it snugly against your shoulder. If the shotgun isn't held firmly against your shoulder when you fire it, the kickback can be quite painful. By keeping it securely in place, you can absorb the recoil instead of letting the gun jolt into your shoulder.


3) Weld Your Cheek to the Stock

 main aiming shotgun wearing headphones

Credit: Envato Elements/ _Vailery


The next step is to tightly press your cheek against the stock or butt of your gun. If your hunting shotgun doesn't fit you, there may be plastic spacers that allow you to adjust the cheek weld setting so that your cheek properly aligns with the stock. A good option to consider is the BLACKHAWK Tac Cheek Pad. This product comes with three adjustable straps and height-adjustable inserts to ensure proper fit.


4) Focus on the Target

 man shooting shotgun into the air

Credit: Envato Elements/ karrastock


Unlike other guns that rely on the rear sight and front sight for aiming, shotguns work best when you treat them as natural extensions of your body. To aim effectively, focus on your target instead of the shotgun's barrel or bead sight. To maintain a decent sight picture of your target, keep both of your eyes open and let your dominant eye naturally line up with what you're aiming at.


5) Start Aiming

 person aiming shotgun

Credit: Envato Elements/ _Vailery


When you're aiming, keep your gun straight while pointing in the direction of the target. If you're shooting trap, sporting clays, or other moving targets, this may be a bit challenging at first, but with practice, your eyes will get better at following the target and hitting it accurately. You can also ask a skilled shooting instructor to help you with your aim.


6) Try Point Shooting


point shooting

Credit: Envato Elements/ Halfpoint


If you're having trouble aiming at a moving target, you can give point shooting a try.

Point shooting is the practice of shooting ahead where you anticipate the target will land. To do this, keep your shotgun against your shoulder and keep your eyes on the clay target. As soon as the gun touches your shoulder, start shooting. You're basically guessing where the target will be when your shot pattern reaches it. It's important to shoot without any delay, or you'll end up shooting behind the moving target.


7) Continue Practicing


practicing shooting at a shooting range

Credit: Envato Elements/ _Vailery


Accurate shooting takes time so make sure to continue practicing your shot. If you're not ready to shoot at moving targets yet, you can try dry shooting with the help of Strikeman Laser Cartridge Training Kit. Once you've mastered the shoulder, focus, and aim techniques, take your skills to the range and fire at moving targets.


Practical Tips for Shotgun Aiming


  • Perform dry fire drills at home to work on your trigger control without live ammunition. Ensure the shotgun is unloaded and follow safety guidelines.

  • If you have cross-eye dominance (where your dominant eye is opposite your dominant hand), consider closing the non-dominant eye when aiming. This can help with target alignment.

  • Ensure that your shotgun fits you properly. An ill-fitting shotgun can lead to inconsistent aiming and discomfort during shooting.

  • If you're serious about improving your shotgun aiming skills, consider taking lessons from a qualified instructor. They can provide personalized guidance and feedback.

  • Keep a shooting journal to track your progress, note any areas for improvement, and record successful shots. Analyzing your performance can help you identify patterns and areas that need work.




Aiming a shotgun correctly is a skill that takes practice and patience to master. By following the tips above, you'll be shooting your shotgun like a pro in no time. To help master your shotgun shooting skills, you can try practicing with shooting targets. To shop for shooting targets that are appropriate for all skill levels, check out EasyShot.

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