The Shotgun Casino Drill: Shoot, Reload, Enjoy

I’m not sure who invented the Shotgun Casino Drill. I first saw it on the Active Self Protection YouTube channel. Maybe the ASP crew created it, or maybe not. However, I give them full credit for them making me aware of the drill, which almost immediately sent me to the range to give it a spin.

I love shotguns and shotgun shooting, but there aren’t a ton of training drills with shotguns. It’s easy to see why. With the shotgun, it’s often an aim, shoot, target down scenario. The shotgun is an extremely powerful weapon and a dominant force in close-range fighting. There is something about a single shot putting eight to nine .32 caliber pellets into a bad guy that ends the fight. Still, we train for the worst possible scenarios, and the Shotgun Casino Drill allows us to stretch our legs and train and test a variety of skills.

The Casino drill didn’t start with the shotgun. The Casino drill is a classic drill that requires a bit of a special target. You start by firing one round into target one and escalate until you are shooting six rounds into target number six. It integrates reloads, target changes, and good marksmanship. The Shotgun Casino Drill does the same but with a bit less ammo.

What do we need to run the Shotgun Casino Drill?

We need a modern shotgun that falls into the repeater category. What’s a repeater? Well, you need a shotgun with a magazine tube or even a magazine. However, you’ll need several magazines if you take that route. A modern repeater is basically any modern pump or semi-auto shotgun. It needs to be able to hold at least four rounds, which tends to be the lower end for defensive shotguns.

shotgun and ammo
Ten rounds are all you need for each run. A six-round side saddle is perfect for this drill.

We need ten rounds of ammo for each run. You can use either birdshot or buckshot. If you plan to shoot it a few times, consider starting with birdshot and escalating to buckshot when you develop a little more skill and experience with the drill. You’ll need to be able to hold at least six rounds on the gun or a mix of ammo on the gun and on the belt. Either way, it needs to be easily at hand and ready to load.

We also need four targets. Shotguns tear targets up, so steel is best, but man, four man-sized steel targets is an expensive venture. Good paper targets will have to be what it is. I prefer the Sage Dynamics targets, mostly because I can print them for free and not rip through fifty bucks worth of targets in an afternoon.

Don’t forget your basics: a shot timer and your eyes and ears.

Setting Up the Shotgun Casino Drill

The Shotgun Casino Drill varies slightly depending on your shotgun. With a pump gun, you can run it fully loaded, and with a semi-auto, you can run it with three in the tube and one in the chamber. A lot of my pumps have eight-round tubes, and that makes the drill fairly easy, so I just run it with three in the tube and one in the pipe with every gun I shoot the drill with.

shotgun boomstick front
Who doesn’t love some time with the boomstick?

Ensure your targets are aligned in a row, maybe a few feet apart at most, depending on the size of your range and the size of your target. I like smaller targets because accuracy is a big part of shooting a shotgun and often gets ignored.

You are only five yards from each target, so you have to be accurate because you aren’t getting much spread. You have 30 seconds to shoot the entire drill, and at first, that seems like a lot. Shoot it once and get back to me. The good news is you begin to get faster pretty quickly.

With everything set up, let’s get ready to shoot.

A Winning Hand

The drill sounds simple but becomes complicated as you shoot. It. You start by firing one round into target one, then two rounds into target two, three rounds into target three, and four rounds into target four.

Good accuracy matters, and the old wive’s tale, or ol’ fudd tale, that you don’t have to aim a shotgun, quickly becomes a falsehood. At five yards, those pellets scatter too far and don’t cover up the sins of being a bad shooter.

Man aiming shotgun
Make sure you aim. Don’t think you can just point and shoot!

If you only have four rounds in the gun, you can zoom through targets one and two, but by the time you get to target three, you are reloading. Shotguns are often slow to reload, so it’s a skill worth building. The drill allows you to reload whenever you want. Hell, you can start at the beep and load four more rounds in your tube before you start shooting.

shotgun pattern at close rnage
This is not a huge spread at five yards so make sure you aim the gun!

You can run it dry at three and port load twice to finish that target. You have an empty gun for target four, so now you have to figure out how to reload once more. Maybe you top the gun off after target one, then target two. It’s entirely up to you and how you want to reload.

reloading shotgun through the port
You can pick between port loading or tube reloads.

That’s why I love this drill so much. It’s adaptive and lets you experiment. Not only can you experiment, but you can do it against the clock and see what works with both speed and accuracy. The Shotgun Casino drill is quite the challenge, and while 30 is the passing par, I think 21 seconds is plenty doable, which ties it back to the standard Casino Drill.

Pump or Semi-Auto

I love my pump guns, I really do, but this drill will make you appreciate a semi-auto. I still like trying the drill with both, but the modern semi-auto action does quite well in action. Not only do you have a faster firing rate, but you also get less recoil.

reloading a shotgun
You’ll be reloading so much during this drill!

When you are trying to really narrow your time down, you will discover your weaknesses with a pump gun. Once speed and fast-paced shooting occur, you might be surprised when you run into a short stroke of your pump gun.

Also, lord, spare your thumbs. Luckily, the Mossberg 940 doesn’t take a DNA sample when you reload the gun.

I like this drill a ton. It’s fun, adaptive, and forces you to think. The shotgun is a thinking man’s weapon, so start thinking about it.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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