Basic Safety

Stay safe at the range, in the field or at home by following these guidelines.

  • Gun Handling 10 easy-to-follow rules to keep yourself and loved ones safe.
  • Transportation Rules regarding the proper transportation of firearms differs greatly by jurisdiction. Always consult local laws when you hit the road.
  • Eyes and Ears Whenever you shoot, it's critical to protect your eyesight and hearing. Fortunately, there's protective gear to fit any style, personal preference and shooting need. Visit to learn more
  • Range Etiquette For an inexperienced shooter, a busy range can be a confusing and intimidating place. It doesn't need to be. Learn how to have fun, fit in and stay safe at your local shooting range in this video.
  • Access Control With rights come responsibility. It's critical that firearm owners secure their firearms to prevent unauthorized people from accessing and using them by locking them in an approved safe. Champion shooter Julie Golob explains how all gun owners can become safer and more responsible through the National Shooting Sports Foundation's Project ChildSafe.

Shooting Style

Shotguns fill a variety of roles. Loaded with the right ammunition, they can serve in home defense, target/competitive shooting and hunting.

  • Home Defense Although most shotguns can be used for home defense, models with shorter barrels, pistol-grip stocks and fast-acquisition sights are best suited for the job. Buckshot loads, such as Federal Premium's Personal Defense Shotshell cartridges, feature large shot and produce optimal patterns for the close-range shooting typical of home defense situations.
  • Recreation Trap shooting is a great way to have fun with family and friends. Target ammunition for shotshells are relatively low-recoil loads that propel light payloads of fine shot—sizes 7.5-9.
  • Hunting Shotguns are arguably the most versatile hunting firearms, because they can be used to take almost any game animal depending on the ammunition. Their primary use is shooting birds in flight—ducks, geese, pheasants, grouse, doves and quail—using shells loaded with small pellets called shot. However, they're also used for larger game like deer, bears and hogs when loaded with slugs (single projectiles similar to rifle bullets).

Ammunition Construction

Shotshell ammunition is offered in six different gauges: 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 and 410, with payloads that vary from 1/2 ounce to 2 1/4 ounces. A plastic tube called the hull encloses a wad filled with shot, and the brass head holds the primer, powder and base wad. Some loads also have a granulated plastic buffer, which prevents pellet deformation and produces tight, uniform patterns. Shells can be loaded with lead, steel or HEAVYWEIGHT TSS (tungsten-alloy) shot, as well as slugs or buckshot.