Is the Shotgun a Good Martial Arts Weapon?
Speaking of shotguns and self defense, let me say, at the outset, that no muggers were harmed in the making of this blog.
And, just so PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) won’t get their skirts in an uproar, I actually had to shoot the cow to save its life.
We have a cattle guard at our ranch, a row of pipes which stops cows from crossing into areas which might be hazardous to their health (freeways), and one of the cows was jumping the cattle guard. If the cow misstepped it would have slipped a leg into the guard, which leg probably would have broken, and we would have had to shoot the animal. So I was saving the cow’s life by shooting it with a shot gun.
And, I only shot it in the butt. And only after one of the old farmers around here assured me that bossy wasn’t going to suffer damage.
Okay, all that disclaimer stuff aside.
I drove up to the gate where Red (our name for Bossy) was getting ready for a leap. I unlimbered the shot gun, and from fifty feet away I spanked her.
She jumped, bellowed at me, and ran away. And thus her life was saved.
And I started wondering about the spread of the shotgun.
A handgun is basically a 12 foot weapon. Past 12 feet people, unless they are severely trained, will miss.
A shot gun, everybody thinks, is unmissable at that distance.
What makes a shotgun hit at that distance is the fact that you have two hands on it, and it is cumbersome, and you have to steady it to shoot it in the first place.
But I would say that by 20 feet the shot gun, in the hands of the untrained, is still going to miss.
At 12 feet the shot spreads out to about 6 inches, give or take.
At 20 feet it spreads to maybe 15 inches, give or take.
At 50 feet, which is the distance I plastered old bossy at, the shot pattern was more’n a couple of feet wide.
So if you shoot somebody at 50 feet the shot will spread out and you’ll only hit them with a couple of shot.
And these figures I give you are only estimates, will vary from shotgun to shotgun, and so on.
But the point is that at 50 feet bossy only got hit by 2 or 3 shot, little pebbles, and a lot of the zip had gone out of those shot by that time.
So she was spanked, no holes in that tough, old hide.
But, let’s talk about humans.
At 50 feet a human might absorb a few pellets, and that human better hie themselves on down to the local get well station. Especially if the pellets hit tender areas. Eyes, groin, whatever.
So how good is a shotgun for self defense?
12 to 15 feet you’re gonna kill the crap out of somebody if you actually hit them.
Past that you have lessening consequences.
So why are people so afraid of shotguns? Because when they see the damage a shotgun can do at 12 or 15 feet they are dumbstruck.
You don’t leave a polite hole in a door, you blow the doorknob off, or the hinges, and the door slams back, or, at worst, you have a six inch hole in the door.
Imagine that on a human body.
Now, because of the spread of the shot, it is an excellent hunting weapon.
Because of human psyche, it is an excellent mob buster.
And, in close quarter work, saw that barrel off, which is highly illegal and could get you arrested and I don’t recommend, and…and you don’t get that much difference.
The importance of a sawed off shotgun is not that it is so much more deadly – the shot spreads a bit more, has slightly less range – but that it is easier to handle.
Have you ever seen ‘Wanted Dead or Alive?’ With Steve McQueen as Josh Randall? It’s not that he blows bad guys into tarnation sized smithereens, but that he is so quick to whip it around and get it into action. Can’t do that with grandpa’s old greener.
Anyway, I assure you that old bossy is still alive and giving milk. Also, feel free to argue with my conjectures regarding spread and distance and all that. My experiments were VERY unscientific, and there’s nothing wrong with feeding me some good, old fashioned scientific data.
Past that, whether you see fit to walk down the street with a shot gun for self defense is up to you, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I would recommend a good course in the martial arts. That and some of that uncommon common sense.
About the author: Al Case has been doing martial arts for 50 years. He is the author of Fixing MCMAP, which analyzes the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and offers some very interesting and effective changes.