Shotguns are very versatile firearms. It is not unheard of for a shooter or hunter to purchase one shotgun to cover many tasks. Some hunters use shotguns for everything from target shooting to bird/small game hunting to turkey and large game hunting. This is the case because of the great variety of shotgun shell loads and choke choices in shotguns.
This is especially so because it is possible to purchase many different types of specialized barrels today. Also, most shotguns come fitted with interchangeable chokes which make it very easy to change the type of shot used and shooting objective.
A shotgun is so named because it shoots “shot,” or loose pellets made of lead or steel, in a group called a pattern. Shotguns are rated in sizes called gauges, while rifles and pistols are rated in sizes called calibers. The gauge is the number of lead balls of that size that it would take to equal to one pound. For example, a twelve gauge would have twelve lead balls the size of the bore which would equal to the weight of one pound.
Shotguns usually have longer barrels than rifles. Shotgun shells do come in magnum loads, which have more shot and powder to push that shot.
Choke is the constriction of the bore at the muzzle. Choke size is used to determine the type of shot pattern for shooting. The most used types of chokes include cylinder, improved, modified, and full. The cylinder choke has no constriction. Improved has a maximum effective range of 25 yards. Modified choke has an effective range of 35 yards. The full choke has an effective range at distances of +40 yards.
Shotgun safety rules are very similar to that gun safty of rifles and pistols. Following the basic three rules will prevent most accidents: Treat every gun as if it were loaded, always point the firearm in a safe direction, and, be sure of your target and what is beyond it.