Top 5 Shotguns for Beginners

So, you want to buy a shotgun but don’t know where to start? We’ve all been there. There are many things to consider when purchasing a new gun, especially for a beginner. From gauge measurement to barrel length, it’s essential to know what to look for in a beginner’s gun. We’ve compiled a list of five of our favorite beginner shotguns that are reliable, durable, and easy to use.

Remington 870 Express
The Remington 870 Express is offered in three different gauges and two different barrel lengths. It has a pump action and features a four-round capacity. These guns have been in production for over 70 years, coming in at an entry/low-level price. One feature that makes it great for beginners is the different barrel options. You can get replacement barrels to make your shotgun work for various types of hunting, making the Remington 870 Express a versatile choice for a first-time shooter who wants to hunt for birds and deer.

Mossberg Model 500
A good gun at an entry-level price point can be hard to find, but not with this shotgun. The Mossberg Model 500 is a perfect beginner’s gun. From the rugged dependability to the simple design, this gun is easy to use and versatile enough for various hunts. It is also ambidextrous so you can use it no matter your dominant hand. This gun is made in the good old US of A and is an excellent choice for beginners and experienced shooters alike.

Winchester SXP Field Pump Action Shotgun
Another lower-cost, reliable shotgun is the Winchester SXP Field Pump Action Shotgun. It features a drop-out trigger, making cleaning a breeze. This shotgun is available in two different gauges and two different barrel lengths. Another great feature of this gun is the recoil pad, which directs energy from the recoil away from your cheek, so you’ll flinch less. Not quite as good reviews-wise as the first two shotguns on this list, but still a great gun!

Benelli Nova
The Benelli Nova is available in two gauges and three barrel lengths. The Benelli pump action shotgun is unique in that it takes shells up to 3.5” long, while most beginner guns only accept up to 3”. This makes it a unique and adaptable choice for the beginning shooter. Benelli guns of all types are well-known and respected for their design and near indestructibility. This gun will last you for years to come.

Beretta Silver Pigeon I
This is the most expensive option on our list and for good reason. The Beretta Silver Pigeon is an over-under competition shotgun is compact and features a low-profile design that will last you for decades, depending on how you care for it. In addition, it is ambidextrous and extremely durable. Beretta is another one of those brands that are genuinely built to last. Pick one up to feel the quality and craftsmanship that goes into their guns.

When it comes down to it, the most important thing when shopping for a shotgun is to talk to a professional. They will be able to help you find the best gun for your size, skill level, and needs. For more information on how to use these shotguns, where to find us, and what you should know before you go shooting, visit our website or call us at (503) 792-3431. Happy shooting!

Choosing The Right Style of Shotgun

So you’re looking to join the scattergun ranks but not quite sure where to begin… Well, don’t you worry, the team at Mid Valley Clays Shooting School has you covered. We’ll help you along your journey and ensure you pick just the shotgun you’re looking for! We’ll break down the different uses, variations, and finally, some specific characteristics which may lead one or another to better suit your needs.

What is your primary use for the gun?
Shotguns are highly versatile, some filling a particular niche, and some all-purpose shotguns can be quite useful across multiple use-cases from bird hunting to shooting skeet and even home defense. But there are, of course, some variants that lend themselves better to specific uses, and it makes sense to choose a shotgun not necessarily for all it can do but for how well it can do that one thing you want it for. For instance, if you are looking for a home defense shotgun, something with a shorter barrel, allowing for greater mobility through doorways and tight hallways, makes a ton of sense. If you want to go duck hunting, a longer barrel provides increased accuracy at greater distances. If you’re planning on shooting skeet or clays, perhaps getting a semi-automatic makes sense for your needs.

Whats your budget?
Shopping for a shotgun is a fun experience, both from a research and comparison standpoint, as well as the excitement that builds knowing you will very soon be learning how to use your new firearm. But setting yourself a budget and perhaps a little wiggle room is essential, so you don’t feel self-conscious or worried you overspent. Shotguns come in price ranges of a few hundred dollars to the 10’s of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the accessories you will undoubtedly want to add to your shotgun to make it truly a one-of-a-kind firearm. For a beginner or first-time shotgun owner, we recommend setting yourself a healthy budget in that $800 range, providing you with a bit of wiggle room. If you’re a more experienced shooter, it is difficult to make a price recommendation, but we can help you try out a few shotguns you have your eye on to help you determine which shotgun is the one for you.

Are you interested in a classic break-action, a pump-action, or a semi-auto?
Break-action shotguns are your over-under (o/u) and your side-by-sides. They are most popular among clay target shooters and upland bird hunters. With double barrels, these shotguns tend to be on the heavier side, which can be a positive and a negative. The added weight makes swinging on a moving target more fluid but is, of course, quite a bit more to lug around. Break-action shotguns start at about $1,500 and go up depending on materials and engraving.

Pump-action shotguns are some of the most popular due to their reliability and affordability. Hunters and people interested in home defense often go with a pump-action shotgun. You can get a brand-new one for as low as $200.

Semi-automatic shotguns are popular for 3-gun competitions, clay-target sports, home defense, and hunting. A semi-automatic, unlike a pump-action, automatically champers the next shell after each shell is fired. As a result, they tend to have a lighter recoil than a pump or break-action but take more effort when it comes to cleaning and caring for them. Semi-automatic shotguns start in the $600 range and go up to $2,500 for a really nice one.

What Gauge are you looking for?
The 12 gauge is far and away the most versatile, handling a full range of loads. It is also the easiest to find ammunition for. Many shooters find it easier to shoot well with a gun that’s a little more substantial with a smooth swing. There’s a reason 12 gauge is king, and deservedly so.

The 16 gauge is a bit of an in-between gauge, an upland classic. Some people say it carries like a 20 and hits like a 12.

20 gauge is a capable performer, strong enough for ducks, procuring ammunition is easy, and it makes a great starter gun for many. With advancements in slugs, the 20s are said to have become the equal of 12s in a lower-recoil package.

The 28 gauge is perfect for smaller birds and short-range clays. At ranges of 30-35 yards, the light-kicking 28 hits with reasonable force.

The .410 has historically been seen as a starter gauge for children due to the light nature of the firearm and the lightest recoil. In actuality, the shells are expensive due to not being a popular gauge and are better off in the hands of an expert target shooter. Nevertheless, the .410 is a fun squirrel hunting and clay target gauge that is having a bit of a resurgence. Some manufacturers are even marketing .410 turkey guns.

But for your first shotgun, we recommend you go with either the 12 or 20-gauge. They’ll do everything you need them to do, are easiest to find ammunition for, and you can’t go wrong with either of them.

As you can see, a lot goes into selecting your first shotgun or your next shotgun. We highly recommend starting your journey with a professional like the people you will find at Mid Valley Clays and Shooting School. We know the questions to ask to help you find the perfect gun for your needs. And we have a ton of shotguns you can rent, so you can truly feel out the differences between a long barrel and a short, a break-action and a pump, and everywhere in between. And once you’ve purchased that new firearm, we’ll help you master it! Till next time.

Krieghoff Factory Service @ Fall Classic Tournament

To all Krieghoff shooters on the west coast – for the first time, Krieghoff will provide on-site factory service during our Fall Classic Tournament on September 9-11, 2022. If you’ve been putting off your annual service, now is the time to schedule it. Time slots will only be available during one of those three days and can be scheduled on the Krieghoff web site using this link –>>

You must state the event in the ‘message box’ in order to get on the schedule.

Target-Setting Class for Sporting Clays

Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School
Target Setting 101

6181 Concomly Rd NE, Gervais, OR 97026

Tuesday May 17th will be working on Sporting Clays target setting from 8:30 am – 6 pm

8:30 Class room

  • Introduce Students
    • Why are you taking this class?
    • What are you looking to get out of this class?
  • What makes a good target and why?
    • Rules to live by in setting targets
    • Which colors to use and why?
    • Type and size different targets
    • Using the line of the target (what is the line of a target)
    • Using terrain 

9:30 break

  • How to entertain the shooters not punish them
    • What is an easy target to you? Why?
    • Mix up the presentations, not all quartering away 
    • What is your “go-to target?” What does that mean?
    • Punish? what does that mean?  
    • How do you know when the sets are good?
  • Which traps and targets to use and why
    • What should a modern trap be able to do?
    • Why use different size targets?

10:30 Break

  • Shoot Some of Mid-Valley shooting targets
    • Why are they challenging? Speed? Distance? Edgy? Color? Sight? 
    • What Targets do you have trouble with?
    • What targets do you love to shoot? 
    • What have you noticed that is hard for other shooters? 
  • How to set club/soft and challenging world-class targets 
    • Spring soft?
    • Trap targets?
    • Incoming?
    • What makes the target a challenging world-class target? Distance? Speed?
    • What is a club-fundraiser target?
  • How make a menu 
    • True pair
    • Report pair
    • Following pair
    • Good menu can make up for iffy target’
    • Bad menu can mess up good targets 

12 noon lunch (included with class)

1:00 pm 

  • You will set 2-5 (if time permits) sporting stands with 2 traps per stand
    • Each student will have? stands to set for Boy Scout shoot
    • Each student should have helper to move traps (I hope) 

3:30 pm

  • We will shoot most stands and discuss what was good and why
    • Was it fun?
    • Was it all different? Thinking outside the box?
    • Challenge the shooter? But not too much?
    • Could you see the target & did you have time to shoot it?

5:30 pm

  • 10) Review Objectives and Outcomes
    • What is expected of you if you set targets at big event
    • Did you get what you wanted from the class?
    • What could have made the class better?
    • Write a review of the class

Thank you for participating in this target setting class!

Which Target Shooting Is Right for You?

Target Shooting

What’s the best way to learn to shoot and sharpen your skills? Clay shooting, of course! With a low-pressure environment, proper instruction, patience, and precision, you can become a crack shot with the right effort. But how do you decide where to start target shooting? Here at Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School, we offer that comfortable environment you need and some of the best instructors in the Portland and Willamette Valley areas.
Additionally, we offer four types of target shooting: trap shooting, skeet shooting, sporting clays, and five-stand shooting. Each sport is designed to sharpen your skills, and each is enjoyable in its own way. First, let’s go over how they differ from one another.

Trap shooting was the first method of clay shooting to be invented. In the 18th century, they would use live birds as targets but eventually switched to glass and clay targets. Little has changed in the way of trap shooting since its invention. Why mess with perfection? We offer singles and doubles here at Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School. Trap shooting is excellent for beginners hoping to get a taste of target shooting. Even if you’ve never held a gun, you can still succeed with some trap shooting training.

Invented in the early 20th century, skeet shooting is more about building your skill with crossing targets. The variety of angles is especially what sets skeet apart from trap shooting. Skeet shooting will help take you to the next level if you’re an intermediate shooter. If you want to get to that next level, contact one of our instructors. They can sharpen your hand-eye coordination in a measured way, step by step.

Sporting Clays:
Sporting clays is one of the most popular shooting games in the US, typically made up of 10-15 stations on a course. Sporting clays were meant to simulate game flushing in the wild. You will rely on the skills you have built on the skeet and trap ranges. This is the perfect environment for hunters to sharpen their eyes before or during bird season.

If you like each of the above practices but can’t choose one, five-stand might be for you. A spin-off of sporting clays, five-stand presents shooters with five targets at each of the five stations. It offers excitement, difficulty, and a variety different from any other shooting discipline. It is an excellent method for hunters to get back into the swing of things before their season begins. You’ll get the variety you need to refocus your skills before the real thing, from high fliers to ground grazers. Five-stand can be done by beginners but is especially helpful for advanced shooters and seasoned hunters.

Here at Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School, there’s something for everyone, no matter what type of shotgun shooting you’re interested in. Visit our pro shop for professional help choosing the right gear, then work with an instructor to succeed on the range. Whether skeet, trap, sporting clays, or 5-stand, Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School, Nestled in the Willamette Valley just south of Portland, Oregon, is the place to do it. Consider us for your next “claycation.”

MVC Ladies Group

Hey Ladies! Are you a shotgun shooter looking to shoot with other like-minded women?

Or are you a lady aspiring to be a shotgun shooter or just learn more about shotgun sports?

Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School is hosting a monthly informal ladies get-together on the third Sunday of every month from 2-4 pm. The next get-together is Sunday, November 20, 2022.  Future dates include Sunday, December 18, 2022 and Sunday, January 15, 2023.

Bring your gear and find some new shooting buddies or, if you’re new to the sport, show up and get some words of wisdom from those a little further along in their shooting sports journey.

This is a no-host event, so if you wind up shooting, the normal target & rental fees and ammo prices apply.

There’s no cost to network and ask questions.

Meet inside the clubhouse building at 6181 Concomly Road NE, Gervais, OR 97026

Lissa Funk is the organizer and point of contact:  mailto:[email protected]

Mid-Valley Clays to Host Oregon State Sporting Clays Championship

Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School in Gervais, OR will be the site of the 2022 Oregon State Sporting Clays Championship.
Register here–>>

Oregon State Sporting Clays Championship June 23-26, 2022
Online registration will open sometime in February of 2022

Main Event Sporting – 200 Targets – $225
Rotation Days & Times:
8:30 am, 11:30 am, 2:30 pm – Saturday & Sunday

Prelim Sporting – 100 Targets – $105
Rotation Days & Times:
8:30 am, 11:30 am, 2:30 pm – Friday

FITASC – 75 Targets – $90
Rotation Days & Times:
8:30, 11:30 & 2:30 – Saturday
8:30 & 11:30 – Sunday

5-Stand – 100 Targets – $105
Rotation Days & Times:
8:30, 10:30, 12:30 & 2:30 – Friday

Super Sporting – 75 Targets – $85
Rotation Days & Times:
8:00, 10:00 & 12:30 – Thursday

Sub-Gauge Sporting – 50 Targets – $55
Rotation Days & Times:
20ga @ 10:00, 12:30 & 2:30 – Thursday;
28ga @ 8:00 & 12:30 – Thursday;
.410 Bore @ 10:00 & 2:30 – Thursday