And you thought the shotguns were just for hunting.
The shotgun is one of the easiest-to-learn, easiest-to-shoot firearms that we have to start our shooting careers with, and rightly so. There are so many venerable brands to choose from--Remington, Mossberg, Beretta, Winchester, Benelli, Savage Arms and Browning--that we're more than familiar with the styles and types to make an easy decision on which one to choose.
Whether you're using a semi-automatic, a pump-action, a side-by-side, an over/under, a lever-action, a bolt-action or a single-shot, the shotgun is as standard as the game we hunt and the targets we shoot.
What most people forget, though, is how many times they've saved the day by freeing or releasing something, or even saving someone's life!
Whether they're break-action or bolt-action shotguns, they can be our best hunting friend, or a formidable home-defense weapon or an efficient law enforcement tool.
Here are five times the venerable and outstanding shotgun saved the day:
1. That time it freed an elk
It's a little hard to tell, but it looks like the first episode was starring a shotgun of the pump-action variety. Whatever it was, the whole issue began with a pile of trash, but ended with some great shooting by one individual who freed an elk to grow into adulthood.
2. That time it saved a winner
The backdrop for this shotgun save is the Republican River in Nebraska. These two locked-up bucks had the battle of a lifetime, but only one of them would walk away, thanks to the great shooting of a game officer with his trusty shotgun.
3. That time it saved Christmas
Shotgun shells are more normally used to plug things like clay pigeons. But in this case, this man may have saved the Christmas wishlist with a small-game firearm. It could've been a 20-gauge shotgun or a .410, too, but it was effective regardless.
4. That time firefighters started using shotguns
Here's an interesting use of the single-shot shotgun concept: the IFEX Impulse Gun. This powerful, yet compact "shotgun" uses short blasts of water at an amazing 248 miles per hour to snuff out fires with impunity, and doesn't use nearly as much water as a firehose.
5. That time an 11-year-old saved his family from a charging brown bear
When 11-year-old Elliot Clark was hiking on Chichagof Island a few miles south of Hoonah, Alaska, he couldn't have known a bruising brown bear was about to jump his party from the nearby bushes. Being one of only two members of his party that was armed, Elliot jumped into action without a thought and busted the large, attacking bruin with his trusty shotgun.
While it's a sad story for the bear, it's an amazing testament to the fortitude of a young man who already knew how to use a firearm, and the nerves of steel to fire it in such a tricky situation.
When it comes to the shooting sports, the 12-gauge shotgun is one of the most versatile firearms we have and maybe the best one to learn on!