How to Aim a Shotgun With Open Sights

Written by cassandra tribe
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Shotguns can come with a variety of sights from scopes to bridges to aperture sights. The most basic of all sights is the "open" sight. Usually this means that there is a rear "V" post and a front bar or bead. On a shotgun, your eye is considered to be the rear sight and a small metal bead attached to the end of the barrel is the front sight. This can be awkward to use when aiming unless you know the basic steps for aiming a shotgun with open sight.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Make sure that your shotgun is properly fitted to you. If you experience any cheek pain when the gun kicks back or have difficulty pulling the trigger or the cocking hammer, then you need to go to a gun shop. The gun shop will fit the shotgun to you by removing or adding material to the stock.

  2. 2

    Assume the firing stance. Stand with your feet shoulder with apart, your weight balanced and knees slightly bent. Raise the shotgun so that the butt of the stock is firmly placed into your shoulder, your lead hand is extended to both support the barrel stock and pull the shotgun tight to your shoulder. Your firing hand should wrap around the stock so you can easily reach the trigger. Rest your check against the stock and look down the barrel.

  3. 3

    Look down the barrel to the bead of the sight. You need to align the bead of the sight onto your target. If you can see your target over the bead then you will miss.

  4. 4

    Practice keeping both eyes open while using a shotgun with an open sight. Doing this will help keep your depth perception and allow you to gauge the distance to the target. This, more than anything, is what most people need to practice with an open sight in order to be able to shoot accurately with one.

Tips and warnings

  • Proper fit applies to pump action shotguns as well. In competitive shooting the ability to pump quickly from the firing stance is essential. If you cannot do this comfortably, then take your shotgun to a gun store to be fitted.
  • When practicing your hold and aim with a shotgun, make sure it is unloaded first. Your concentration will be on the feel and sighting of the gun and you will need to be able to dry fire (pull the trigger without actually shooting) at will. Don't think that you can pretend to pull the trigger, eventually you will forget and pull it and if the gun is loaded you could cause serious damage.

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