FALL RIVER COUNTY, S.D. — First in the lineup of long guns at the range was a 20 gauge break-action shotgun. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Conservation Officer Chris Dekker explained how to get started.
“We’re going to grab our 20 gauge round, we’re going to pick it up. Now with the break-action, it’s going to come in here where that breaks open,” he describes, loading the barrel with one round. “Now, this gun doesn’t have a safety on it. So good fundamental practice is finger outside the trigger guard.”
“Now that we’re done, we can go ahead and release it, open it up, and it’s going to eject that round out the back.”
After Officer Dekker showed me the safe and correct way to handle the break-action, I was ready to give it a go.
“Now it is going to kick pretty hard. It’s a really light gun, but go for it,” he said.
He talked me through the process, despite my worries about how to correctly hold the shotgun.
“Nothing you have to worry about with your hand placement. Just get a good grip on the forestock there. Yep, tight in your shoulder.”
“This is designed for bird hunting, so it just has the bead on front,” Officer Dekker explained. “There’s no dovetail sight for it.”
I followed the same steps as I brought the shotgun up to the target and fired.
“With that round, we’re shooting just number seven-and-a-half bird shot,” said Officer Dekker. “So we’re not going to see anything down on our target. So it doesn’t make sense to walk down range and look at that.”