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Finding the Right Shotgun

Finding the right shotgun proved to be a little tougher than I had anticipated.

I have always found it difficult to find the right gun that fits me correctly.

I’m small in stature at 5’3” tall with shorter arms and small hands (I don’t look like a T-Rex running around the woods with a gun if that’s what you are thinking).

The longer shotguns are tough for me to handle, as they are heavier and the length of the barrel is always an issue. I have found it’s much easier for me to wield a youth model with more accuracy and speed.

I didn’t realize how tough it can be to find a youth model. After many hours of searching the Internet, I finally decided on a Mossberg 510 Turkey Thug .20 gauge. I like that Mossberg’s are affordable, accurate and come with some great features.

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Once I had made my decision on the model I went about trying to find one. I called every major firearms dealer in Colorado with no luck.

It was exactly a week before turkey season started, and I was still without an accurate turkey gun.

I called down to the local a firearms store and was able to order one directly from the factory. They only had three left in stock and they would have it within a few days. Boy that was a close one!

I realized I needed to do a little more planning ahead of time before hunting season. My husband went to the dealer and ordered it for me as my birthday present.

After looking over the specifics again I was a little nervous I had ordered a gun that would be too small for me to use. It had an 18-inch barrel and was only 34.5 inches in length. I frantically started measuring every gun in the house trying to get an idea of length.

This gun would be much shorter than my Mossberg youth model Bantam. I thought for sure I had wasted money on another gun that I couldn’t use.

Once it finally arrived, we added the additional piece to the stock, I held it up, and it fit perfectly. I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be short enough to bust me in the nose. None of the men in my life will shoot my little Mossberg Bantam because of that very issue and it’s quite a bit longer than the Turkey Thug (which was a great laugh for me when they found that out).

We went to the range that evening, rushing to make it before dark. The only target we had was a Pepsi box. I used the red circle as the turkey’s head, and aimed for the bottom.

As soon as I shot I felt immediate blinding pain in my left hand.

I hadn’t done a lot of shooting with a shotgun. When I was younger we didn’t hunt with shotguns so I had no idea there is a specific place to hold your hand.

I had apparently not locked the pump and was holding it like a rifle, and it slammed back pinching a good section of the meaty part of my palm just under my thumb. It looked like a blister the size of a dime and hurt like the dickens.

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I handed the gun over to my husband with tears in my eyes and said “Here, take this biting little b***h back to the store. I don’t want it.”

He laughed and let me know that I didn’t have my hand placement correct. We checked our target and I had hit a little high, but was lucky I hit the target at all!

My husband told me to “hair up and do it again” as he handed it back to me. I reluctantly shot it again knowing I probably pulled the shot.

This time I held it correctly and hit just a little high. I tried it again, paying more attention to the shot and less attention to the pain, and hit exactly where I intended.

She was very accurate and shot a perfect turkey pattern. I felt like there was no more practice needed; I was lethal at 15 yards.

The gun didn’t come with a ported barrel, and only weighs five pounds, so despite its size it kicked more like a 12 gauge. That’s nothing new for me; my .270 WSM kicks like a mule.

I learned a very valuable lesson in the proper hand placement of a shotgun, much to my husband’s amusement. Apparently I have to learn proper placement the hard way with everything and that’s a story for another day.

Now I was ready for the real test… will this little gun bring down a turkey?

Have you ever learned a lesson the hard way with a firearm? I would love to hear your stories.

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Finding the Right Shotgun