Whether you’re embarking on a days-long road trip or just making a quick stop at the supermarket, you want to ride in the passenger seat. More leg room, no one elbowing you to get their seatbelt on and, most importantly, the role of car deejay. And to ensure you get the best seat in the house, you need to be familiar with calling shotgun.
Maybe you have your own, personal rules among your friends and family on what goes when calling shotgun, but have you ever considered that the act itself doesn’t...make sense? Why are we referencing a hunting weapon when we’re just trying to get the front seat?
Back when there were stagecoaches (the horse-and-buggy carriages, not the music festival) instead of cars, “drivers” would rarely ride alone. It was the 1880s, the wild, wild west, and coachmen had to take precautions lest they get jumped by bandits or thieves. That’s where the “shotgun” seat came in; whoever was commissioned to ride second-in-command was responsible for warding off enemies with their -- yep -- shotguns. The wide breadth of damage tolled by a single shotgun firing was appealing, in case there were more than one highwaymen coming at you at once.
It wasn’t a direct line from there, though: Stagecoach drivers wouldn’t call their side seat the shotgun seat. It was the media and Hollywood, becoming transfixed with the tales of the Old Wild West that made the connection.
But even if you know where it came from, do you know how to partake correctly? The official rules of shotgun are as follows:
- The car must be in view.
- You must be outside. With your shoes on. Without going back inside.
- The Deed must be done (to establish a timeframe).
- Shotgun becomes void once you reach a destination.
- If you have a hand on the door or are sitting in the seat before someone else calls shotgun, you’ve won.
It gets very complicated from there, but there you have it!