Competitive shooter Dillen Easley talks shotgun competition:
There are a lot of people who state that they would shoot Multigun if it were 2 TWO guns and the shotgun wasn’t involved. They rarely show up when those divisions are announced. But it’s never stopped people from claiming the shotgun is their barrier to entry. Well, it’s no secret that I am a lover of shotguns, all-shotgun stages, and shotgun matches. I’m gonna give my opinion on what I think you need to be competitive when shooting shotguns in matches. It won’t be an extensive as you might think on one side. And your wallet may not like what I say on the other!
Let’s start with TUBE FED shotguns that are commonly going to be found in your non-Open divisions.
What do you need to do well? Not a lot really! The Benelli M2 I shoot today is a lot fancier looking than the one I shot in 2014 when I started gaining some notice with shotguns. But at it’s heart it is still the same. Reliability is about all that matters, and that is why you see Benelli M2’s in most top shooter’s hands. In 2013, I took out my Dremel and “hogged out” my own loading port. Something that can easily result in the demise of an expensive serialized receiver. I added an extension tube and a stick-on fiber optic front sight to that shotgun and managed to win quite a few shotgun stages at larger competitions.
Today, I would have a qualified gunsmith open that loading port or purchase the Roth Performance receiver to swap on that already has the loading port milled open. There are tons of caddies that reliably hold shotgun shells and facilitate the load-two and quad-load methods of loading the magazine tube that now dominates the sport. With a handful of dummy rounds, you can become a proficient shotgun loading machine without firing a single shot.
Chokes are not complicated either. I’ve run a light-modified choke for 90%+ of all stages I’ve shot in the last 10 years, and I’m only inclined to change that choke out when drastically different targets are presented. I will change to a diffusion choke for all clays, especially in close, and will opt for an improved-modified choke if targets get out at further distances. I now use a Roth Performance XM2BE with lots of Briley goodies, including extended choke tubes.
Magazine Fed shotguns now dominate the Open division, and for good reason!
I can now load a 20 round mag into my Dissident Arms KL12 faster than I could quad load 4 shells into my Roth XM2BE tube fed shotgun. Add the Razor red-dot sitting on top and slugs become much easier to connect with as well. The downside? Well, plastic mags can swell a little in high temps. They can be finicky to get running with certain types of ammo. Flying clays are less instinctive for me than a tube fed shotgun, and there is a more rifle-like height over bore issue for close targets.
The guys at Dissident have figured out how to get most of the VEPR based shotguns to run better than many would have ever expected. They offer belt clips that attach to the mags and require no more belt equipment. I was privy to some Federal test ammo for semi-auto shotguns that has run 100%…. and I believe will be THE birdshot offering to have for mag fed shotguns very soon. When it comes to chokes? I opt for ½ choke tighter in my KL12 with 19” barrel than I would use in my XM2BE tube gun with 26” barrel. I keep Diffusion, Light Mod, and Improved mod for my tube gun and have Diffusion, Improved Cylinder, Mod, and Full for my KL12.
Well, “stationary” should be a bad word for everything but slug shooting and engaging flipped/flying clay targets. I prefer to use both types of Spring-Poppers from ShootSteel.com for shotgun practice because they reset themselves and do not flip over backwards when shot at closer ranges. I will commonly use static silhouettes at 50 yards and 18”x24” steel challenge style static targets for slug practice, as well as clay flippers behind poppers to practice that skill. The majority of my practice is spent shooting while moving with a choke as tight or tighter than I often use in a match.