What is the Correct Way to Shoulder a Shotgun?

Most of the hunters start their hunting career with a hunting rifle. However, when it comes to hitting a moving target, hardly a few firearms can beat the shotgun.

And when they are about to transition to a shotgun, the first thing that comes to their mind— what is the correct way to shoulder a shotgun?

Even though it might sound easy, it would get quite tough to operate one of these rifles without proper knowledge regarding the topic.

The reason behind this is because shotguns are considerably different from regular shooting rifles.

There is a high chance that you are shooting this firearm wrong if you are using it as a regular rifle. However, this factor will not apply to most veterans. They know their stuff.

Nevertheless, as you have stumbled upon us, you are going to get all the bits of knowledge about how to shoulder one of these properly.

Also, we are going to fill you in about other important factors as well.

How to Shoulder a Shotgun Properly?

how to shoulder a shotgun properly

Even though the term shouldering is used for shotguns, it is a bit misleading. The most effective way to weld this gun is not by the shoulder. It is the cheek that is going to play an important role here.

Now, many of the veterans might get used to welding it by the shoulder, which can even yield better results than cheek welding. But if you are just getting into using a shotgun, you should start by the cheek.

And when we are talking about welding the gun with your cheek, we are not referring to the ways that most of the shooters follow.

Many hunters will try to achieve cheek welding by jamming their gun’s stock to the shoulder. Then they would try to swing the muzzle to the point where the stock meets the cheek.

On the other hand, some might even follow another process, which is to place the bottom of the stock towards the shoulder and then bend the neck.

However, both of the processes that most of the shooters are going to follow is not the proper process of welding the firearm with a cheek.

In fact, if you are following any of these processes, there is a high possibility that you are struggling to aim at a moving target properly.

And when it comes to landing your shots on the target accurately, being able to aim properly is the first step you need to ensure.

Nevertheless, the things that you will have to consider if you want to weld the shotgun properly are as follows:

Align Your Head Properly

Aiming properly is something you need to do if you want to land your shots on the target. And if you want to properly aim at a moving target, you must align your head appropriately.

For doing that, you must mount the firearm to your face, not the other way around.

We recommend you to do that by bringing the stock to your cheek. And the main point of contact should be your cheek, not the shoulder area. You can achieve that after you keep your head erect and maintaining a proper visual of the target.

Once you have done that, bring the firearm up to your face, and it should make contact with your cheek naturally.

And if it does not land on your cheek naturally, you would want to make the comb of the unit sit firmly under the cheekbone.

This particular process will make sure that the dominant eye is put on the top of the gun. As a result, your dominant eye is staring straight down at the barrel.

Find the Shoulder Pocket

Once you have brought the firearm to your face, it should fit right into the pocket of your shoulder. And once it finds its way to your shoulder pocket, you will have two options.

One would be to bump the shoulder forward, and the other one would be to bring the stock further into your shoulder pocket.

No matter which option you decide to pick, make sure you don’t make too much movement. If you are making excessive movements, there is a high chance that the firearm will not sit in a proper position. And if it does not sit in the proper position, all the alignment that you made would be useless.

However, we recommend you press the stock further into the pocket if you are using a 3-1/2 inches magnum shell.

Those tend to have a nasty recoil, which can be a bit hard to control. However, bringing the stock further into the pocket can help in controlling the recoil.

And once you have placed the stock into your shoulder pocket, you have properly shouldered the gun.

Things to Consider When You are Shouldering a Shotgun

things to consider when shouldering a shotgun

There is a couple of factors that you factor in when you are trying to shoulder a shotgun.

Once you have factored these in, the chances of you getting injured will be considerably low. And the ones that we are referring to are as follows:

Finding the Pocket

If you are having trouble while you are trying to weld the gun using the cheek, there is a high chance that you did not find the pocket of your shoulder properly.

And if the firearm sits anywhere other than the pocket, the chances of you ending up with a bruised collarbone would be pretty high.

Alongside that, you might even have a bruised bicep or a collarbone. And one of these can put you in a break in your hunting career, which is not really that fun, is it?

That is why it is quite important for you to know where the pocket actually is before wielding a gun.

The shoulder pocket is just underneath the cheekbone. It is right where the shoulder meets the clavicle.

This region is basically a muscled area, which forms a pocket when you are wielding a gun. The butt-end of the gun has a specific design to make it sit in that position naturally.


Many of the shooters tend to lean back when they are holding a firearm. It is a natural tendency for most apprehensive hunters.

However, you would want to avoid leaning away from the firearm. Instead of that, you should lean slightly towards the weapon.

And to achieve such a leaning position, you must keep your knees a bit bent. However, do not bend it too much, or else you lose the stability when you are taking the shot, which you would not want.

Position of the Neck

The neck positioning problem is something that occurs for most female shooters. As women usually have a slightly longer neck than males, they find it hard to cheek weld the shotgun.

And if you are struggling too much to make the back end of the stock touch the collarbone, then your neck positioning is wrong.

What Should I Do If I Can Not Properly Shoulder a Shotgun?

Many of the hunters might find the cheek weld process that we have discussed above a bit hard.

Well, if you are trying again and again but you are failing to properly rest your cheekbone on the upper back end of the stock, then there are a couple of things that you can try.

They are:

Get a Comb Raising Kit

One of the reasons behind you not being able to properly shoulder the gun might be your neck and shoulder’s natural shape.

In that case, you really do not have that much to do other than to get a comb-raising kit. And if you were not familiar with what a comb is, it is the stock’s top edge.

You can raise it a bit using particular raising kits. These kits are generally spongy sleeves that will fit over the stock easily.

They are generally made of neoprene. And after you put this over the stock, the comb area should rise a bit.

Once the specific area has risen, there is a high chance that the problem that you were having beforehand would be solved.

On that note, you can try different of these sleeves to get the right comb height.

Make Yourself a Customized Stock

If the comb kit does not solve the problem, then the last resort would be to get yourself a customized stock.

When you are making one of these, make sure that the dimensions are proper. Make sure that the comb is at an appropriate height.  After getting the customized stock, you should be able to shoulder the shotgun properly.

Final Words

Now that you have proper knowledge about the topic “what is the correct way to shoulder a shotgun”, hopefully, you will not have any trouble holding the shotgun anymore.

We hope that the position you hold your gun is appropriate and the shots that you fire land on the target.

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