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Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns

While rifles and shotguns may have similarities and often look alike, the difference is the purpose and the barrel. Rifles are primarily designed to shoot single bullets which strike a single, usually stationary target, while shotguns are designed to fire a spread of shot or pellets in order to hit a moving target.

All rifles and shotguns have three main parts; the stock, action and barrel. The action is the part that loads, fires, and ejects a shell. The barrel is the tube the bullet or pellets pass through. The stock is the wood, metal or plastic frame that holds the barrel and action.

The main difference between rifles and shotguns is the inside of the barrel. Rifles are grooved in a spiral pattern while the inside of most shotgun barrels are smooth.


Rifles are designed to accurately hit a precise point. They are long-barreled firearms with grooves cut into the barrel of the rifle. These grooves are called rifling and give rifles their name. The rifling makes the bullet spin as it leaves the muzzle, making the projectile much more accurate and stable in flight. Make sure the ammunition you use matches the caliber that is stamped on the side of the barrel.


Shotguns typically shoot a spread of small projectiles instead of a rifle’s single bullet. This increases the chances of hitting a moving target. They also have a smooth barrel inside.

Shotgun styles allow a wide variety of choices including the gauge, the type of choke and the type of action. Shotguns can also fire a single projectile, called a slug, which is similar to a rifle bullet.


A handgun is a firearm designed to be handheld, in either one or both hands. This characteristic differentiates handguns as a general class of firearms from long guns such as rifles and shotguns (which are mounted against the shoulder).

Major handgun subtypes are the revolver and pistol; other subtypes include derringers, single-shot pistols, semi-automatic pistols, pepperboxes, and machine pistols.

Archery and Bowhunting

Bowhunting is one of the oldest hunting methods. It was the main form of hunting until firearms were invented in the 14th century.

Bowhunting requires concentration and patience. It is not a method of hunting that you can learn in a day or two. Making accurate shots with a bow takes much practice. In fact, practice is perhaps one of the main things you need to do to be a successful bowhunter. There are both classes and groups that offer instruction in the proper methods of bowhunting and a wise hunter will take advantage of all the instruction he or she can receive.