3 Types of Shotguns

Have you ever walked past the gun rack only to notice that you rarely find two shotguns that look the same? While there are a variety of brands, colors and sizes of shotguns, there are three main types of shotgun designs: pump-action, semi-automatic and break-action.


Pump-action shotguns—aka “pumps”— have been a reliable tool for hunters and clay target shooters for decades, and they’re a common option for clay target athletes in the League.

Pump shotguns rely on the athlete to manually load and unload the shotgun using a manual forward and backward motion of the forearm to cycle a shell. Sliding the forearm back towards the athlete opens up the chamber and allows for a shell to be loaded, while bringing the forearm forward away from the athlete closes the action, securing the round is in the chamber and making it ready to be red.


Another type of shotgun widely used by League athletes is the semi-automatic shotgun. Popular for both hunting and clay target sports, semi-automatic shotguns—sometimes referred to as “autoloaders”—are a style of shotgun that rely on either the gasses released from a red shell, or the inertia (force) of ring a shell, to cycle the action and eject the spent casing. This allows the athlete to cycle multiple rounds without having to manually open and close the action of the shotgun during each shot when participating in multitarget clay target sports like skeet.

Semi-automatic shotguns also tend to have less recoil because some of the energy from each shell is spent moving the action back and forth, while the rest escapes through the end of the barrel. 


Since their development in the mid 1800s, break action shotguns are the most commonly used shotguns for all types of clay target shooting sports. Break action shotguns can be either single barrel or double barrel. Each type is hinged on the bottom and has a lever release to open the shotgun at the chamber. This allows for easy loading and unloading shells during each shot. 

THE BEST SHOTGUN IS THE ONE THAT FITS YOU!The League’s scoreboards don’t lie—student athletes soot fantastic scores using all types of shotguns, so which shotgun you use comes down to your own personal preference. If you are considering a new shotgun, make sure to consult with your coach. He or she can offer guidance, and your local gunsmith can make sure it’s fitted correctly so that you’re comfortable on the line.