Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shotgun Speed Reloading 101

Some methods are better than others....

So if you're shooting competitive 3-gun by now, you've hopefully figured out that reloading the shotgun can make or break your stage. Or your whole day for that matter. This is one of the areas of 3-gun that, as they say, separates the men from the boys. I spend probably 50% of my match preparation time at home practicing shotgun reloads. I typically set up my belt with my shotgun caddies and come up with scenarios to force myself to reload under pressure. As an example, here's what I did last night:

Practice time: 2 hours. Setup: Strong-hand reload. Choate 6 shell caddies on Double Alpha Belt. Mark Otto 2 shell carrier on shotgun forearm
Drills: 1.)Reload 4 shells, 1 shell per second (warm up). 2.)Reload 4 shells in 5 seconds with timer. 3.)Reload 4 shells in 4 seconds with timer. 4.)Reload 8 shells as fast as possible. 5.)Reload 8 shells in 8 seconds with timer. 6.)Emergency reload empty chamber from Otto carrier. 7.) Reload 2 shells from belt as fast as possible. 8.) Reload 3 shells from belt as fast as possible. 9.) Repeat drills while moving to right. Then repeat moving to left.

Depending on how beat-up my thumbs are after running through a few drills, I will repeat some of the same drills while reloading weak-hand. I still can't completely decide which way I prefer to reload, but at least today I find myself feeling more comfortable reloading strong-hand. But, you should be familiar with both in case you get a curveball during competition.

Here's a brief rundown on the three types of shotgun speed reloading that most competitors employ:

Strong Hand Reload
Strong Hand Reload: Support the forearm of the shotgun with your support (weak) hand, canting the gun towards your strong hand side. This allows you to visualize the loading port as you reload it. Grab your shells from your caddy with your strong hand. I find its best to arrange my caddies on my belt either directly in front of my handgun holster (2 o'clock), or in place of my handgun holster if its a no-pistol stage (2 and 3 o'clock). Grab 4 shells and drive them into the loading port using your thumb to push forward and your index finger to guide the tip of the shells into the magazine. Your third and fourth fingers are simply support to keep you from dropping shells and shouldn't do much here.

Weak Hand Reload

Weak Hand Reload:  Keep your strong hand on the grip of the shotgun and use it to support the gun. Either rest the stock on your hip or under your armpit for added support. If you are really strong, you may be able to keep the gun shouldered while reloading,which is faster. I usually keep my shell caddies on my belt between 10 and 12 oclock for weak hand reloading with the first caddy at 12 o'clock). Using the same steps as the strong hand reload, reload 4 shells from the belt using the thumb and index finger primarily.

Twins Reload

Dropping Deuces/Load 2/ Twins Method: I believe this to be the fastest reloading method I've seen so far. I am not using it yet because I don't have the equipment and my shotgun is not optimized for it. I still practice it at home occasionally, because I plan on moving toward it in the future. Specialized carriers like the one at the beginning of this post have the shells arranged in pairs with one on top of the other. With either weak or strong hand, the shooter grabs two shells, flips the shotgun upside down and drives the shells into the magazine one behind the other. I've seen some insanely fast reloads using this method.

Hopefully you are practicing your shotgun reloads at home. Setting aside even a small amount of time each day will drastically improve your times in competition. Once again, if you want to see these techniques live, check out the video below from the Strongside Tactical Youtube Channel:

Pro Tips: Shotgun Reloading Techniques

Be safe and see you next time.

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