For this reason, at longer distances a shotgun is unlikely to kill an adult human—there’s no concentration of power, merely a peppering effect. (This is why, in part two of Deal with the Devil, coming from Astraea Press in June, Faust is at such a disadvantage when he's armed with a shotgun against a rifle and revolver.) However, at short range, the power of a shotgun is deadly, with all the pellets striking the target sufficiently close together to cause massive and easily fatal injuries. (What constitutes short or long range is dependent upon the ammunition loaded and the gauge of the shotgun.)
Some modern shotguns allow the owner to install interchangeable choke tubes, which are little tubes that screw into or otherwise attach to the outer end of the barrel. This can change the shot’s pattern dramatically, spreading it to assist the hunting of small game, particularly birds, or contracting it for more concentrated killing power.
There are numerous non-lethal alternatives to shotgun shells. An old-fashioned one is rock salt, which doesn’t kill at mid-range but instead causes small, stinging wounds that serve as an effective warning for trespassers or other miscreants.
Riot police are fond of flexible baton rounds, more commonly known as bean bag shot. These fiber bags pack enough punch at short range to knock an adult to the ground. Rubber slugs or shells serve a similar purpose but tend to be more painful. Shells can also be filled with tear or pepper gas for crowd control.