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Onsight Firearms Training – Defensive Shotgun AAR

September 2018 | Joshua Shaw

Onsight Firearms Training Defensive Shotgun taught by Benjamin DeWalt

Shotguns Myths and Misconceptions

Many people own shotguns and consider them great home defense tools. I’m sure some of our readers have a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 staged in their house somewhere just in case of a theoretical home invasion scenario or localized alien invasion. Because of the shotgun’s iconic place in our culture as a great defensive tool, long used by law enforcement, and lionized in pop culture as a devastatingly violent destructive weapon (which it is), a lot of myths and misconceptions have arisen around the platform as a result. The completely false statement that “you don’t even have to aim” is the most common thing I have heard people say, implying that the resulting blast of projectiles will stop or kill everything within a wide-angle FOV of the muzzle. To be clear, you most certainly have to aim a shotgun like you would any other firearm.

Shotguns for Home Defense

If you own a shotgun for home defense, or simply have one and consider it to have a role in your self-defense tool kit, then you should seek out training on its use and capabilities in defensive situations. Many people grew up with shotguns in their hands, and have a good understanding and familiarity. However many people with no experience on shotguns follow the line of thinking they have heard parroted by others in politics or hollywood that a shotgun is the best/easiest home defense weapon, and that you just point it in the general direction of the threat and it will knock the bad guys through the wall of your house and problem solved. In fact, the shotgun is arguably the most devastating small arm available to civilians for self-defense, and its effective use requires training and familiarity in order to run it smoothly and to understand its quirks. Pretty much like any other weapons platform, you would expect to need to train on it before you were capable with it under stress. But how many of us regularly seek out pistol or carbine training classes, but neglect getting trained with the shotgun?

The ideal home defense weapon is debatable and depends on many factors. Personally I consider the 12 gauge a viable home defense tool and keep one handy for that purpose. Because of this, I sought out quality training from a reputable instructor in order to make sure I wasn’t kidding myself in my ability to handle the gun if I ever needed it and to learn as much as possible about the capabilities, pitfalls and necessary manipulations of the platform.

Onsight Firearms Training

I met Ben Dewalt of Onsight Firearms Training (OFT) at SHOT show in 2018, and not only got along with him well but appreciated his perspectives and attitude on training. Myself and my Spotter Up teammate mentally added Ben to our shortlist of instructors we wanted to train within 2018. A few months later I was training with another student at a Modern Samurai Project red dot pistol class who ended up being Ben’s wife and co-instructor at OFT, and it reminded me that they were solid trainers and cool people. Shortly thereafter I was registered for an OFT Shotgun class in Virginia. One of the great things about OFT is that they have a very robust, full-time training schedule, offering a large variety of classes running regularly across multiple states from NY to VA. Because of this, they are able to offer training at very competitive prices, which is attractive to new and return students. As a side note, Bens’ wife is also an excellent firearms instructor and offers women-only classes too.

Defensive Shotgun Training Class

The class was held on a private range in Virginia and had about 12 students. The class started with a safety brief and a discussion about shotguns. Ben provided a familiarization brief on the most common types of shotguns and established the facts and specifics about shotguns capabilities with various types of ammo and their use for home defense, contrasting the realities of the platform with the common myths. These assertions were all demonstrated and tested by the students and their specific guns on the range throughout the day.

Once the safety and familiarization were complete, we moved to the range without ammo, and Ben established the various ready and shooting positions he would be calling on the students to perform throughout the day. He also demonstrated how to safely deck the gun on the ground, and some standard manipulations, ensuring that students could execute his commands safely, on-demand. Extra time was spent on reloading the shotgun since keeping the gun loaded is such a critical part of running shotguns effectively.

Once we moved into live-fire, the pace of the course ramped up and stayed high. We went through a lot of ammo and got a lot of reps in. The first part of the day was all target loads, establishing shooting from various ready positions, conducting reloading and shooting from the seated, kneeling and some work with a partner. Eventually we moved onto discussions of various ammo types and how important it is to pattern your shotgun for your preferred defensive load, and to understand how that ammo performed out of your shotgun at specific distances. We tested this with multiple types of buckshot and slugs at different distances which was very eye-opening. The class wrapped up late in the day with some more advanced drills, involving the use of cover, communication with a partner and movement, which was a great learning experience and also very fun.

Final thoughts

By the end of the class, everyone was very competent with their guns and also pretty smoked from a hard day’s work. I personally had a great time with Ben and the other students, and really took away a lot from the class with respect to understanding and getting more confident with a 12 gauge. I was able to diagnose some equipment issues on my own gun during the course of the day and apply changes to my setup so that my home defense shotgun is as effective as possible for me. This is another critically important part of training, is to run your gear hard and shake out any issues, so they don’t pop up under stress if you ever have to use the gun to defend yourself.

I had a great time in this class, learned a ton, and made some new friends, which are the key metrics of success for any training class I take. I would recommend Onsight Firearms Training to anyone looking for good training, and I will be training with them again.

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