By: Baraka Ulrich James, Founder/Chairman MASF Modern American Shooting & Firearms 501(c)(3) nonprofit education organization
Originally Published in MASF Quarterly Online Magazine Fall 2015 issue
Though I have been shooting for well over 20 years and I have taken many firearms training classes from some of the countries top instructors, this was my first shotgun class. The reason I decided to take this class specifically is that like many Americans my primary firearm of choice for home defense is a 12 gauge shotgun. One of the main things that I’ve learned and try to pass onto others is that you need to train with all of the firearms you own. Having a gun that is untested, unfired, that you’ve never trained with and have nor have any idea of the capabilities of that weapons system makes it a liability that can end up doing you more harm than good and at a time where you may need
it the most. Truly I had no idea what I was in for but to quote our instructor Steve “Yeti” Fisher “the shotgun is a very powerful and violent weapon, it beats you up so you must know how to handle it”. Steve taught us just how to do that. Our class consisted of 15 students total who brought various types of shotguns, anything from pump shotguns, semi-auto shotguns, side by sides to high end big money brands. Steve told us all ahead of time “bring what you have in your house and train with that”.
At the beginning of class shortly after the student introductions, Steve had all of his students show him what shotguns they brought to train with. He inspected all 15 students shotguns and made various assessments of everyone shotguns. Many people had a lot of things that Steve said were not “ideal” such as heat shields, pistol-grip stocks with built in side saddles, slings, rail mounts that were either in the way of the sites or on the forends. Steve explained that for home defense the two most important things you need on your shotgun is a white light and an additional source of ammo outside of what is in and on the shotgun.
Personal Equipment notes:
I brought two of the three shotguns I own (pictured right) On the left, My 12 gauge Mossberg 500 with Magpul FDE Furniture (both forend and stock), on the forend is the Gripstop , TacStar SideSaddle Shotshell 6 shell Ammo Carrier loaded with Remington double ought 12 gauge Buckshot. On the right, My 12 gauge USSG SXS (side by side) Double Barrel 20″ Shotgun aka the Coach Gun.
Regarding my Mossberg 500. When I had the forend replaced from the stock Mossberg one to the Magpul FDE one, the castle-nut was not tighten completely and twice during training the forend came off completely. Steve fixed it once (pictured below) with his Series 3 Multitasker Tool
The first thing Steve explained, demonstrated and taught us was about patterning your shotgun ammo. Steve shot various shotgun loads, various brand shotguns, at various distances and showed us all how different brands / manufactures loads patterned. Depending on the brand of the load, the brand of the shotgun and the distance you were shooting made all the difference when it came to what kind of spread impacted the target. For instance at 10 and 15 yards “Federal flight control 12 gauge buckshot” left a rat hole that we were all amazed to see revealing a huge fallacy that most believe. That fallacy Steve revealed is that you can miss with a shotgun, it is not just aim from the hip and whatever is in front of it is hit as one would believe from watching movies, you must aim a shotgun just like any other firearm or you may miss you intended target! Another huge revelation that many were surprised to learn is that buckshot penetrate much deeper than slugs. Want another? Buckshot and slugs can both be out to 100 yards and beyond from a smooth bore / non-rifled shotgun. Last one… racking the slide on a shotgun does not serve to “scare” any potential intruders, what it actually does is reveal two things to said intruder(s) 1) where you are and 2) that you have a shotgun, giving them more information that they could potentially use against you.
Lessons that I learned:
1: The Push / Pull method helps not only to mitigate recoil but also increases your accuracy and consistency when shooting
2: How to unload a shotgun properly without just racking the gun repeatedly as your shells fly out and you damage them from repeatedly doing so.
3: You can load and reload a shotgun very fast with the methods and practice that Steve showed us in class
4: A sling on a shotgun can be very cumbersome and in a home defense scenario is definitely not recommended and can actually hinder you
5: When using a shotgun one of the basic rules of firearm safety becomes even more vital of: knowing your target and what is beyond it
6: The reason having a mounted white light on your shotgun for home defense is so vital is for positive identification of the intended target.
7: Red dots sites instead of the traditional beard site such as the Aimpoint T1 or a Trijicon RMR are excellent on shotguns.
8: Steve left off with a very good piece of wisdom “do not try to memorize and regurgitate what he or any other instructor teaches you, it is what you learned from their teachings, what you took away that counts”
9: If you want to know and learn more then seek out the proper instruction from a reputable instructor! Do not “fall in Love’ with one instructor and just train from them elusively. Always be open to learn, ask questions and practice / apply what you learn.
I leave off with this:
I believe that all hard-work in life deserves praise and acknowledgement. Steve Fisher is a MASTER of his craft! He knew when to be hard on us and when to make us burst out laughing with his awesome sense of humor. With 15 students he still found time to give each and everyone of us his own personal attention. A testament to that is that one of our
MASF Modern American Shooting & Firearms members Allen Sams brought his 17 year old daughter with him to train with us. She had never taken a single firearms class in her life and
ran a 20 gauge Remington 870. She never complained once!
She followed Steve’s instruction perfectly, was accurate,
determined and made not only her father extremely proud
but Steve and all of us as well. We were proud to see one
of the next generation of Americans getting passed down
a skill and proud American tradition. Lexy Sams, thank you
for doing so well, we are so proud of you, may God continue
to bless you young lady!
Steve never rejected or chastised anyone regardless of the
question and as a result not one question went unanswered.
Steve was not only generous with his time but took time after
class to answer and address questions that people had one
on one. I am proud to now say that I am a student of Steve
“Yeti” Fisher and I am completely looking forward to more
classes with him. I cannot say enough good things about this monster of a man at 6′ 5″ who people have kindly nicknamed “The Yeti” it was truly an honor and an experience I will never forget! Thank you Steve!
Yes all 15 of our classmates did extremely well and we have come closer as a community. Thank you all for a great class! I look forward to training with you all again in the near future! Please stay safe and remain vigilant! Godspeed – Baraka Ulrich James