term "Shotgun" refers to the front passenger seat of an automobile.
"Calling Shotgun" is the act of claiming the position of Shotgun for
one's self. As this position is the most coveted of all positions
when riding in a car, the following list of rules has been created
to ensure that Shotgun can be acquired in a fair and equitable
manner by any passenger of an automobile.
history of calling "Shotgun" goes back to the days of covered wagons
and the Wild West. On a trip across the plains, the driver of a
wagon would hold the reins of his horse team and concentrate on
driving. This left him and the occupants of his wagon susceptible to
sneak attacks from bandits and thieves. To avoid this atrocious
circumstance it became necessary for one person to sit next to the
driver with a shotgun and fend off the enemy.
Defending against bandits is no longer the priority of Shotgun
however, but it has evolved into a pre-driving ritual that is
experienced before almost every car ride across America and even the
world. Because of the obvious evolution that has already occurred
with Shotgun, we ask you to consider Shotgun as a living entity and
be aware that it is always changing for the better good of society.
following rules have been created through many years of exploring
the ritual of Shotgun and are designed with the idea of fairness to
all as the main priority. They are also the most complete and
comprehensive listing of Shotgun rules available today.
You Must Say The Word
You must say the word "Shotgun" to stake your
claim on Shotgun. This must be done clearly and loud enough so that
at least one other to-be occupant of the vehicle can hear you. No
variations of this word are acceptable. After you have rightfully
called Shotgun, you have exclusive rights to Shotgun for that ride.
However, if no one hears you call Shotgun it is still fair game for
The Deed Must Be Done Before Shotgun
May Be Called
For these rules to work properly, it is
essential for you to understand and accept the concept of the
"Deed". Shotgun may only be called after the "deed is done". Simply
stated, the deed is any activity or objective that directly precedes
the ride in the automobile. The deed can be anything ranging from a
visit at a friend's house, to a shopping trip at the mall, to a
visit to the Grand Canyon. We cannot stress how important this is
because this establishes a Shotgun-calling time frame that ensures
everyone has an equal chance of recognizing when to call Shotgun.
There is no crime greater than calling Shotgun on Monday in
reference to the ride to the concert on Friday. Some people choose
to play this way, and they are fools.
You Must Be Outside To Call
The best way to establish exactly when the deed is
done is to define this moment as the instance that you have left the
building in which the deed took place. All passengers need not to
have exited, but someone must hear you call Shotgun.
Some people choose to use a variation of this rule and require
that all occupants be out of the building before Shotgun can be
called. This does not work. It leads to everyone calling Shotgun at
the same time and often ends in physical violence.
The Barefoot Rule
must be outside to call Shotgun, some people will just grab their
shoes, jump outside, and call Shotgun before putting their shoes on.
This has been deemed "gaping", and is not a
legal procedure. You must have your shoes on, if you choose to wear
any, before you may call Shotgun.
If you call Shotgun and then go back inside for some
reason, you must re-call Shotgun after leaving. After you have
re-entered the building, Shotgun is once again fair game to all.
When The Deed Is
If the deed takes place outdoors, which it often
does, the completion of the deed must be agreed upon when Shotgun is
called. Any major disputes over the completion of the deed, as with
any discrepancy, can be easily settled with a quick round of Rock, Paper,
In the situation of the deed being a hike or other
extensive outdoor activity, you may not call Shotgun until the
automobile is within your sight. This rule needs only to be used
when the passengers are outside for a long time and have traveled
long distances from the car, as with a day of snow skiing.
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Hand On Door
Shotgun can no
longer be called once someone's hand is holding the shotgun door
handle. This officially stakes their claim to Shotgun and calling it
at this time is just redundant. This is one scenario where a person
does not actually have to say Shotgun to get the seat. This rule's
importance is that no one has to be around for you to stake your
claim to Shotgun, whereas usually one other would-be occupant must
be present for you to call it.
manage to sit in Shotgun before anyone has called it, you keep the
position even if someone else calls shotgun after you sat down. This
is very similar to the Hand on Door rule,
where you do not actually have to say Shotgun nor does anyone else
have to be present for you to claim it.
This rule is
applied when you have called Shotgun and are waiting for the doors
to be unlocked. If you lift the handle while the doors are being
unlocked and therefore cause the Shotgun door to remain locked, then
you are "voided" for that ride.
At this time Shotgun is available for all of the other passengers to
enter a garage that is connected to a house or building without
having to go outside, then you may call Shotgun as soon as you enter
the room. This only applies to small attached garages. Parking
structures and detached garages are always considered as being
outdoors, even if they are underground.
the situation where a group of people are travelling in multiple
cars, you must specify which car you are calling Shotgun for. For
example: if the two drivers are named "Bob" and "Sue", then someone
must say "Shotgun Bob" or "Shotgun Sue" depending on which car they
would like to ride in.
If the Shotgun occupant exits the car to
accomplish a deed, Shotgun becomes eligible to the remaining
passengers in the other seat(s). Once Shotgun is available, you must
call Shotgun before the other occupants. Often times there is
discrepancy regarding when Shotgun actually becomes available.
Several attempts have been made to clearly define this point, yet no
truly fair rule can be applied here. For this reason, one game of Rock, Paper,
Scissors is usually the easiest way to solve the problem.
Exception: If the Shotgun rider abandoned the seat to do a deed for
the driver, i.e. purchasing cigarettes or pumping gas, that person
the Shotgun seat has been called by someone, the other less
prestigious seats in the car may be claimed using the same rules as
calling Shotgun. For example: you can say "back-right" or
"back-center". In addition, you may also negate calls such as "not
back-center" which would put you in any seat except for the
you choose to remain in the automobile while the other passengers
accomplish their deed, you may retain full rights to Shotgun. Often
times not everyone needs to go inside when completing menial deeds.
It can be abused however when a certain person is willing to wait in
the car for extensive periods of time in order to retain the rights
to Shotgun. This type of person is considered to be a "Shotgun
Gapers (gay-pers) are people who prioritize
Shotgun much more than a normal human being. These people will alter
their usual behavior and even undermine their own ethics in order to
gain the rights to Shotgun. They do this through legal means such as
sprinting for an exit, and therefore they cannot be voided. The term gaper
was originally given to Will
Henderson who once rode Shotgun for 2 months straight. The
advantage to being a Shotgun Gaper, of course, is you always get
Shotgun. Being a Shotgun Gaper, however, is frowned upon.
If you know any Gapers and disapprove of their gaping ways, visit
page. There you will find tips and tactics to help you beat the
Gaper at their own game.
Whenever you break a
Shotgun rule as stated in this guide, you may be voided from
receiving Shotgun privileges for that ride. Although somewhat
discretionary, voiding automatically applies if you call Shotgun
while indoors, or if you do not have your shoes on and call Shotgun,
or if you display any other blatant disregard for Shotgun protocol.
In circumstances of minor Shotgun rules infractions, voiding may not
need to be exercised. Being void only applies for the ride directly
after the voiding has occurred and after that ride you may regain
full Shotgun privileges. Once someone has been voided, then all of
the other passengers are free to once again call Shotgun in the
a discrepancy ever occurs, and they commonly do, over who rightfully
gets Shotgun, it is usually settled with a single game of Rock,
Paper, Scissors. A common application of this procedure takes
place after two people call Shotgun at the exact same time. Click here
to play a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors against the computer. Also
consider buying one of our professionally
printed rulebooks to help settle disputes on the road.
Special note regarding discrepancies: many people use a "driver
override" rule that says the driver of the car settles any
discrepancies. The driver override rule also says that a driver has
the final say about who gets to ride Shotgun. This version of the
rule is very subjective and defeats the purpose of calling Shotgun.
Rock, Paper, Scissors is a much more fair and objective way of
settling any disputes.
Shotgun is a living entity and constantly changing, new rules always
need to be created. Any group of people is welcome to implement
their own rule if the situation arises. A new rule will often be
created following a major discrepancy. The important thing to
remember about this is that the new rule does not take effect until
the next car ride.
Although the Shotgun rules have
been created with ultimate fairness in mind, there are situations
where exceptions need to be implemented.
the most important exception. If a significant other (SO) is
included in the group of automobile passengers and this person is
the SO or potential SO of the driver, then they get automatic
There is a rare exception where more than one person
may have rightfully called Shotgun. This happens when multiple
groups of people are meeting at a car, and both groups had someone
claim Shotgun. If it can not be determined who made the call first,
then the only fair way to settle the dispute is with Rock, Paper, Scissors.
If someone is driving an automobile other than its
owner and the owner becomes a passenger, then the owner
automatically gets Shotgun. When applied, this rule shows respect to
the owner of the car.
The Long Haul
rules listed above have been designed around the shorter trip (less
than 1 hour). For longer journeys it is best not to use these rules
because the incentives to be a gaper are too great. Rather, you
should divide Shotgun equally among those who want it.