Personally, I'd rather have a firearm and a good supply of ammunition to supplement my survival until I get those renewable bow-and-arrow making and firing skills down. Furthermore, bowhunting takes a great deal of skill, not just with shooting the bow and hitting a target, but also with stalking and moving through areas unnoticed, a topic I'll get into another time.
The Remington is a great little gun, its a pump action 12 gage shotgun with an extended magazine that holds 6 rounds, plus 1 in the chamber. Very simple to operate, maintain and repair, and as such it makes an excellent weapon for survival. I've modified it so far by adding a Recoil-Reducing Pistol Grip by Blackhawk, which helps a lot with kick, given that the weapon is 12 gauge. I plan on further modifying it by changing out the foregrip (the part that you pump) with one that will hold a surefire flashlight, adding a side-saddle to hold another 6 rounds, and finally a set of Ghost Ring sights with tritium - an element that glows in the dark. Being that two of the major modifications are specific to low light, it should be pretty clear that the biggest thing I'm worried about is home invasions at night.
From a survivalist standpoint, the shotgun should be your first weapon purchase. It is, hands down, the most versatile weapon, and in that sense provides the most bang for the buck. Being that shotguns are used heavily in sporting, they are not only cheap, but very common, which means in a major SHTF situation, the ammunition will be both valuable to own, and easier to come by than a lot of types of rifle ammunition.
Shotguns are also excellent for hunting all types of game, from birds and varmints to deer the wide variety of ammunition provides an incredible amount of versatility. It is extremely powerful at close range, and potentially effective out to 100 yards with rifled slug ammunition. Unlike what most people might assume given what they see in movies or in videogames, the shotgun is pretty darn accurate at close range, and its spread doesn't really go beyond a hand's spread before 10 yards. While at home, I keep my shotgun loaded with 00 Buckshot, as the cheaper small game rounds simply do not have enough power to stop someone. A pellet of 00 buckshot will kill at 50 yards.
The Crosman 'Phantom' is another simple gun. Its a single-shot pellet gun I bought initially to take care of the mercy-killings I'd occasionally have to do on a poor rodent my cats would catch. After purchasing however I found that it's pretty darn accurate out to 50 yards, and is furthermore more than enough to bag a rabbit or bird if needed. Furthermore its an excellent gun for practicing the basics of shooting in a very low-profile way, given that it's subsonic. Additionally, 500 rounds of pellets are about 5$ so it's a very, very cheap way to practice marksmanship. Also consider that in a SHTF situation, not having to expend valuable shotgun/.22/.223 ammunition while hunting small game, as well as not being heard while doing so would be very useful indeed.
Anyway, the skeet and trap was a boatload of fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in firearms. I put about 100 rounds through my relatively new shotgun and are that much more acquainted with the weapon. You can own the world's most expensive rifle but if you've never used it for anything but posing in front of a mirror to look cool it's nearly useless. I would like to get another 500 rounds through it before the year ends, but we'll see how that goes. Using your weapons gets you acquainted with how they feel, how the trigger feels, and how to operate a weapon smoothly and efficiently. You don't always need to be at a range though to practice valuable firearms skills, though. I've taken to practicing speed reloading my shotgun from a bandolier (with the safety on and the chamber empty, of course) while at home and alone. When I first started out I was quite slow, about 2-3 seconds per round, but now I can get a round from the bandolier into the magazine in under a second. When I get the side saddle, though, most of my practice will be reloading with that weapon.
Additionally while home you can practice other valuable drills, such as getting to your weapon, unlocking it, and clearing the apartment/house/whatever. Which brings me to another point - part of owning a gun is being responsible about its possession. When I'm not practicing or firing it, I ALWAYS lock up the trigger and keep its ammunition stored in a cool, dry place away from any potential fire hazards.
When holding the weapon I also am mindful of the four rules
- All guns are always loaded (until you establish whether they are or not).
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times: on the range, at home, loading, or unloading.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target (and you are ready to shoot).
- Be sure of your target. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you haven't positively identified.
Furthermore, responsible ownership of a firearm, in my opinion, is also knowing how the weapon works, and breaks apart. If and when you acquire a firearm, make sure to take time to read the manual, to take it apart, an learn how to clean it just as well as you would learn to load and shoot the weapon. And when you go to a range, don't be afraid to ask questions. Most shooters aren't really dicks, and unless they're preoccupied will be more than happy to help you, or find someone to help you with your question.
Finally, if you've got the money, take a course on your weapon, or basic tactics. I've still yet to do this, as I have only recently bought my gun, the blog's name is newbie survivalism for a reason!
I should note though that whenever you're doing such home practicing, you should probably have your windowshades pulled down, and not simply for your own dignity. Weapons, in particularly scary looking black ones like the ones I own, will alarm neighbors and if you're unlucky, you might get the cops called on you. Additionally, depending on where you live, its also a good idea to keep as low a profile about your gun ownership as possible. Operation Security is critical, and my next article should be about that