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xmag.com : July 2004: Shotgun! A lesson in drinking


You feel the cold metal against your lips and pull the trigger. A violent blast blows your mind. It’s a morbid way to think of drinking a beer, but is a commonly practiced method called “shotgunning.” Unlike blowing your head off with a shotgun, shotgunning a beer can be a pleasant experience and a useful exercise in the task of getting drunk.

When beer was first sold in cans and openers were commonly used, someone realized that if you punch a hole in both the top and bottom, the pressure in the can would force the beer out quickly. With the invention of the pop-top, a “trigger” was added and shotgunning was born.

The proper shotgunning technique is to punch a hole in the bottom of the can, put your mouth around the hole, and open the can. This forces the entire beer into your mouth at once. If you do it right the beer flows down your throat smoothly and you are successfully one beer closer to being drunk. Your friends may chant, pat you on the back, give you a “high-five” or even another beer. If you do it wrong the beer squirts up into your head, filling your sinuses, spraying out your nose, and making you choke and cry and gag. Everyone will then laugh at you, you will have wasted a perfectly good beer, and you will smell even worse than you did before you decided to attempt this advanced drinking technique. Needless to say, this is a power-drinking trick that must be mastered.

Here are several hints that will make shotgunning easier. First off, be careful not to shake up the can. There is already enough pressure to successfully expel all 12 ounces. Secondly, make the hole nice and big. Use a can-opener or a knife. The worst shotgunning holes are made with pens or—more commonly—keys. These holes are too small and will only serve to shoot suds up into your brain. Once you have a nice big hole in your unshaken beer can, wrap your lips around the hole and open your throat. Pretend you are about to take a big sip of water. Don’t let your friends make you laugh or you’ll gag for sure. When you “pull the trigger,” pull the tab nice and slow and just let the beer flow in one gulp. That’s all there is to it. Practice at home a few times and you’re ready for any social event!

Once you’ve mastered the technique you can use it to get free beers, pick up girls, impress younger kids, the sky’s the limit. Say you don’t have any beers. Find a guy with a full half-rack and challenge him to a contest. Say there’s this cute girl who likes you and your friend equally and has to make the decision on who to go home with. That decision will be made once she sees beer spraying out of your friend’s nose all over his t-shirt and everyone congratulating you.

If you become bored with this technique and are looking for a trick with a little more zip, or if you couldn’t master the normal shotgun technique, well there’s hope for you, too! Using the advanced technique of the “California Chugger” or “Onyskin Shotgun” (after Horny Mormon-Sea Pig-Lizard Jay Onyskin) you can be the life of the party without drinking a single drop. Done properly, you should be able to consume most of the beer in the can while providing spectators with awesome fireworks of debauchery.

Unlike the traditional shotgun method, it is necessary to shake up the can as much as you possibly can when attempting the California Chugger. Shake-shake-shake. When the can is rock hard, smash it repeatedly on your forehead until the aluminum cracks. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. You will see a mighty spray of beer resembling a stream from a pressure washer or firehose. You need to get that stream into your mouth and squeeze the can, making sure all the beer gets down your throat.

This is more of a visual trick than a practical one, and you will probably waste most of your beer if you drink exclusively using the California Chugger technique, but it’s one to pull out when things get boring. There’s probably no need to practice this at home and boy do the kids love it! A great finale to the California Chugger is to scream something like “In your face!” and smash the mutilated can on your forehead.

Another variation on shotgunning goes back to the time of the old-style flat-top cans. This style of beer drinking is not flashy at all, but practical. You simply punch a hole in the can’s lid opposite the existing hole. This allows air to enter the can and the exiting beer to cascade freely. You can chug a beer quickly using this trick and don’t have to worry about spilling a drop or looking foolish. Recently, I witnessed a 15-year-old attempting this technique. He looked at me and said, “Fuck it! I’m gonna get really drunk tonight,” then started trying to poke a hole in the can’s lid with his house key. Like shotgunning, this trick works better with a can-opener. Openers are a worthwhile investment. They are small and can fit on your key chain.

I learned shotgunning at an early age, before I even drank a beer. I was at my friend’s birthday party. His dad worked for a beverage distributor, so for the party he had cases and cases of ice cold pop. Another friend’s older brother had taught him how to shotgun. He passed the trick on to us and we spent the day perfecting it. By the end of the day we were successfully shotgunning entire cans of orange pop. We celebrated with an elaborate soda fight, using the shotgun technique to turn the cans into squirt guns.
The trick was with me for the rest of my life. At age 16 I could shotgun beers along with the most experienced TKE’s at frat parties. It earned me a chair at the table for drinking games like Prince of Wales, Mexicali, the Name Game, and Asshole.

During high school, some of the rednecks on the football team tried to recruit me to join the team. I didn’t and they were pissed. They would vandalize my car in the parking lot, call me faggot, spit on my locker and other stuff. I made friends with the captain by playing him a tape of Black Flag’s “Six-Pack” and shotgunning some beers with him. After that he would vouch for me, and I was more or less left alone. I was even invited to the football parties. I remember the entire football team shouting along to “Six-Pack” as my friend Justin dazzled them all by shotgunning a beer in 1.45 seconds.

So you can see that there are some social reasons for learning how to shotgun a beer, but that’s not all. Even when it is just you and a friend drinking together, a couple holes punched in some cans can take you to the next level. That extra beer may lead to closer friendships or even to true love. This may all seem a little stupid to you, and I’m sure there are some of you that will live your entire life without ever shotgunning a beer. If you did I wouldn’t think any less of you.

I imagine that someday soon there’ll be a computerized beer injection device you can log onto on the internet, and this age-old shotgunning technique will fall by the wayside. However that fateful day when pc’s squirt out beer may not come for a while so I suggest you perfect the old methods and use them to your advantage. That’s right, put that cold metal up to your mouth, pull the trigger… Ahhh!




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