HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - SHOTGUNS 101


Follow these steps to safely unload your semi-automatic action shotgun: 

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a forward facing semi-automatic action shotgun.

STEP 1: Point the firearm in a safe direction.

Illustration of a hunter's hands keeping off of a semi-automatic action shotgun's trigger.

STEP 2: Make sure nothing touches the trigger during this process.

Illustration of a hunter's hands turning on a semi-automatic action shotgun's safety.

STEP 3: Turn the safety ‘ON’ (if it can be engaged during the unloading process).

Illustration of a hunter's hands cycling the action of a semi-automatic action shotgun to remove ammunition.

STEP 4: Remove any ammunition (use gravity— let it fall into your hand). If ammunition cannot be removed in any other way, cycle all the cartridges through the chamber to remove them.

Illustration of a hunter's hands opening the action of a semi-automatic action shotgun.

STEP 5: Open the action by operating the cocking device (a slide or bolt). This will remove and kick out any ammunition or empty casing/hull from the chamber.

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a semi-automatic action shotgun on its side with the action open.

STEP 6: Look in the chamber to confirm that there’s no ammunition, hull or empty casings in there.

Illustration of a hunter's finger checking a semi-automatic action shotgun's feeding path for ammunition or obstructions.

STEP 7: Verify that there’s no ammunition by inspecting the feeding path for any objects. Feel for the follower (if applicable).

Illustration of the view down a semi-automatic action shotgun's smooth barrel.

STEP 8: Place the butt of the shotgun on the ground and make sure the action is open, then look down the bore for lubricant, rust, or any obstructions. Now you’re officially UNLOADED.


Campfire Collective truck icon.



Go boldly, tell your story. Campfire is building a collective of ambassadors who share a passion for the wild. If you’re an influencer, publisher or sport expert drop us a line. Let’s hook up and inspire others.

Campfire Collective high five icon.



Stay in the loop. Sign up for our newsletter
to get the latest stories from around the fire.