Shotguns and wing shooting
Shooting a shotgun is like shooting a basketball. Repetitive muscle training. Some people are not very good at it. While every shotgun will claim to have the same dimensions of pull and drop etc this is not very accurate. Small eight and sixteenths of an inch translate into a foot or so at 30 and 40 yards. Two inches of extra barrel will cause a shotgun to change weight characteristics and mount and swing differently. A pointing gun may change into a swinging gun with a different barrel. A thick winter coat for late season chuckars may cause you to undershoot every rising bird. A great duck and goose gun will probably be a disaster for quail. Fit of the stock for a rising bird and for a passing shot are different.
How to tell that a gun doesn’t fit. Take it to the skeet range and shoot the low tower. Does the gun consistently shoot over the clay? Does the gun always shoot to one side. A gun that consistently shoots to the left has a comb that is too thin. .
Dominant eye- If you are right handed make sure your right eye is your dominant eye. Other wise you have some tough decisions to make.
I hunt doves, quail, grouse and sometimes turkey with a 20 gauge with 3” chambers. Early season chuckar an open choke 20 is pretty good but by late season they may flush wild and you may need a full choke and wish for a 12 gauge.
You don’t mention ducks and geese which is the only reason I own a 12 gauge. Of course I grew up wing shooting with a 410 so a 20 gauge is a luxury to compensate for lack of practice.
A 12 gauge is probably a better choice for an adult beginner and offers more flexibility.
Barrel length is not like in a rifle. It doesn’t do much for velocity- it gives you different handling characteristics and will help a little on shot pattern. A 26 inch barrel should be fine for what you list where you need a pointing gun. For geese I prefer a 28 inch for the smoother swing.
Rem 870 SPS w 26 inch barrel in 12 gauge would be the first gun I would look at. Although I will tell you that my shoulder can just barely handle the abuse from a 31/2 mag in an auto. I do not know if this is the correct price range but you can probably find a used one.
Simple reminder – fit is everything with a shotgun. A shotgun that does not shoulder properly is a worthless piece of trash.
The Smokin Fur Rifle Club