The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US), America, or simply the States, is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, 16 territories, a federal district, and various overseas extraterritorial jurisdictions. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 316 million people, the United States is the fourth-largest country by total area and third largest by population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the US mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonization beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The ensuing war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
A modern shotgun slug is a heavy lead or copper-covered lead projectile, with or without a plastic tip, that may have pre-cut rifling and that is intended for use in a shotgun and often used for hunting large game. The first effective modern shotgun slug was introduced by Wilhelm Brenneke in 1898, and his design remains in use today. Most shotgun slugs are designed to be fired through a choked smoothbore barrel; they must be self-stabilizing in the absence of rifling.
Earlier types of slugs were also used in 4 bore guns intended for hunting dangerous African game in the 19th Century. Such 4 bore guns were produced in both rifled and non-rifled versions. Similarly, modern shotguns have been produced with rifled barrels, or rifled choke tubes, and slugs designed to be fired from them use spin stabilization. As these specialized shotguns are far more accurate than a smoothbore gun, they also usually have a mount for an optical sight, such as a scope. Many of these slugs are saboted sub-caliber projectiles, resulting in greatly improved external ballistics performance.
Waterfowl hunting (also called wildfowling or waterfowl shooting in the UK) is the practice of hunting ducks, geese, or other waterfowl for food and sport. In many western countries, commercial waterfowl hunting is prohibited, and duck hunting is primarily an outdoor sporting activity.
Many types of ducks and geese share the same habitat, have overlapping or identical hunting seasons, and are hunted using the same methods. Thus it is possible to take different species of waterfowl in the same outing. Waterfowl can be hunted in crop fields where they feed, or, more frequently, on or near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, sloughs, or oceanic coastlines.
A shotgun shell or shotshell is a self-contained cartridge loaded with lead shot or a shotgun slug which is designed to be fired from a shotgun.
Most shotgun shells are designed to be fired from a smoothbore barrel, but dedicated shotguns with rifled barrels may take a number of different rounds. A rifled barrel will increase the accuracy of slugs, but makes it unsuitable for firing shot, as it imparts a spin to the shot cup, causing a centrifugal force that makes the shot form a hollow "O" shape in flight. Non-lethal shotgun ammunition is available in the form of slugs made of low-density material, such as rubber. See shotgun specialty ammunition for more information.