Class Review: Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun

“When people get shot with a shotgun, they tend to stay shot.”  –Tom Givens

Tom Givens

Tom Givens

For the second time this year I had the pleasure of participating in the Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun course.  The first time was as a student.  This time, due to the lovely and gracious Lynn Givens being occupied in whipping all of the male shooters in a Gunsite 250 Pistol class en route to an Expert rated certificate, I had the honor of being Tom’s assistant.

The class was held on the same picturesque range as the previous day’s Defensive Revolver Skills course.


My favorite thing about Tom’s teaching style is that he puts everything into context.  There is a reason for every drill, technique, etc, and it is thoroughly explained.  In his shotgun class, everything is put in the context of a person using a shotgun for personal defense within their home or business.  For instance, a business owner isn’t going to take the time in the middle of a hold-up to attach shell holders to their belt; the problem will have to be solved with the ammo in and on the gun.  This is a much different context than the use of the shotgun in a military environment

As problems with operating a shotgun are typically shooter induced, the class is strong on robust manipulations and repeated drilling on the fundamentals of operating the weapon and loading techniques.

Yes, You Have to Aim

The pictures below show two separate targets shot with Federal Flite Control OO buckshot.  As you can see, the patterns are tight enough that the shots clearly have to be aimed.

Flite Control: One round at three yards

Flite Control: One round at three yards

Elite Control

Flite Control: Three rounds at 15 yards

Chris Baker of the Lucky Gunner Lounge was a student in the class.  He wrote an article on choosing buckshot for the home defense shotgun and created the video embedded below.  The video has good information on different loads, and they currently have a series underway focussing on shotguns.

Patterning & Set-up

Following all of the shooting drills, the class patterned their shotguns out to 15 yards with the buckshot loads they brought with them as well as with Flite Control.  Tom also discussed his preferred set-up regarding sights, magazine extensions, etc.  This too was in context as he discussed this topic with personal defense in the home/business in mind and not a peace officer on a manhunt.


For some reason the mention of a shotgun as a personal protection tool offends people who prefer a carbine or other option, and they feel honor bound to justify their choice.  Usually, their reasoning is fueled by misconceptions or misunderstandings of the capabilities of the shotgun (that should set some such people off).  The fact is that the versatility and the fight-ending effectiveness of a proper shotgun load can’t be denied.  I personally have more confidence in a magazine tube full off Flite Control than I due a magazine of 9mm or .223 to solve an immediate close to intermediate range problem.  If you choose otherwise, be happy in your choice.  If ever I have to shoot someone; I want them to stay shot.


  1. After helping Tom as “range gopher” at the class he taught for you guys in Georgia, I ordered one of the 870s he recommended, with the option additions and the Flight-control 00 buckshot. I got lucky- mine patterns into 7.5 inches all the way out to 30 yards. That will do, I think! This is the new primary weapon for repelling any barbarians who assault the Halls of Justice.

    1. I patterned some of the 9-pellet through a Benelli all the way out to 35-yards keeping it all in the “coke bottle” on my TxT target.

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