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Due to its power and accuracy, rifles are utilized for military, hunting and sport shooting. Seeing as the barrel of a rifle is at least 16 inches, rifles are impractical for home-defense and concealment which necessitate a smaller weapon for close-range combat. There are six International Shooting Sport Federation events which involve rifles, three of which are Olympic events. With the exception of shotguns for bird hunting, rifles are the firearm of choice for hunting due to their ability to take down all types of land game at a far distance. Rifles are very popular in the military; the combat rifle is the standard firearm of every military and specialized rifles, such as sniper rifles, are the most accurate long-range firearms utilized in the military.

The shotgun’s ancestor is the blunderbuss, a smoothbore firearm which expelled lead balls and was primarily used by cavalry, naval warships and the British mail service as it was lightweight and effective over short ranges. The shotgun was the weapon of choice for personal protection in the American Old West because it did not require as much skill as a revolver to operate. The term “riding shotgun” references the importance of shotguns at this point in time because private strongbox guards that were riding trains and stages would carry a shotgun while riding next to the driver so that they could defend the strongbox and passengers against bandits.

Over time, the development of shotguns was enhanced due to sport and commercial hunting. Shotguns are still the gun of choice for bird hunting, skeet, trap shooting and sporting clays. Additionally, they were utilized in WWI because of the close-range fighting in the trenches.

The different types of shotguns available are based on their action (its operating mechanism). The common types of shotguns available are the autoloader, the pump, the break action, single barrel, side-by-side double barrel and the over/under double barrel.

Shotguns are used in a variety of activities. For sporting purposes, shotguns are used in skeet shooting, trap shooting and sporting clays – this is one of the most common uses of shotguns as it involves having to hit small and multiple targets while they are in the air. For hunting, shotguns are the best rifle for bird hunting and its large and powerful slugs can be more humane to larger animals. For law enforcement and military, shotguns are good for support and various special purposes. Riot shotguns are used in the US to control mobs; rubber bullets, rock salt and bean bags can be used as the projectile to disperse a crowd. They are also used for breaking locks. Finally, shotguns can be used for home defense as they have been proven effective in close quarters.

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