“Recently a neighbor asked my advice on purchasing a home-defense shotgun,” gun guru John Zent writes in americanrifleman.org. “I described different options and then advised him to consider a short-barreled side-by-side like the Stoeger Double Defense [above] because loading and shooting it are foolproof. No effort is required to cycle an action, and the gun can’t jam between shots. Since precise aiming isn’t necessary, even the rawest beginning shooter has a fair chance of operating the gun effectively.” Huh? Loading a shotgun with shells with a bloodstream full of adrenalin is about as “foolproof” as trying to pick-up Carolina Pampita Ardohain by asking her if Heaven’s lost an angel. Reloading? Same again—only speaking Swahili. As for aiming being surplus to requirements with the [other] Double D, uh, no . . .
Without going into the finer points of shotgunning (ammo, chokes, etc.), most scatterguns shoot a grapefruit sized pattern at home defense distances. Think dunk tank: trying to hit a hand-sized paddle to give your math teacher a bath from, say, six yards. How’d that go? If I’m not mistaken, the paddle wasn’t moving around, in the dark, trying to kill you or your family.
When facing a lethal threat with a gun, not only do you have to aim, but you have to aim well. As facile as it sounds, other than actually having a fully functional (safety off?) loaded firearm in your hands when you need one, aiming is the most important self-defense skill.
If you doubt the veracity of that assertion, ask yourself why gang bangers are so intellectually challenged (a.k.a., stupid). If they aimed their gun at their rivals, colleagues or (god forbid) law enforcement, natural selection would have given us a more intelligent class of criminal. Bad guys who’d use their brain to avoid gunfights.
As you should, too. But if you find yourself defending your life with a gun, aiming should be a higher priority than shooting. Not only does aiming increase accuracy (as in giving you some), it also forces you to insert a pause between bringing your gun to bear and pulling the trigger.
At the range, the aiming part of the shooting process happens so fast you’re barely aware of it. (Note: you should be, but most people aren’t.) In a self-defense situation, with your perception of time slowing down, aiming your gun will take an eternity. Great! It gives you time to think about something really important. Should I pull the trigger or not?
I’m not talking about a momentary moral re-examination. If you’re using a gun for self-defense, you crossed that Rubicon a long time ago. No, the pause created by aiming helps ensure that the person you’re about to shoot needs shooting.
There are a LOT of considerations involved in that calculation. Does you attacker have the ability to cause you death or grievous bodily harm? Is the threat imminent? If you haven’t studied the legal use of lethal force in your state, please do so immediately. But in the heat of the moment, don’t deny yourself one last chance to get it right.
More to the point, give yourself a final chance to not get it wrong. If you somehow manage to line-up the wrong person (e.g. your daughter’s boyfriend or a drunk neighbor), if an innocent is running into your sight picture, aiming may keep you out of living hell.
In almost all cases, aiming will make it easier to do what needs doing. And, perhaps, prevent you from not doing what shouldn’t be done. So, by all means, practice shooting. But more importantly, practice aiming.