In the first story that Grandma tells about how Shotgun got his name, Shotgun is ten years old. According to Grandma, Shotgun wanted to go quail shooting with some other boys. However, he was terrible with a gun and, Grandma says, "couldn't hit a barn wall from the inside." Therefore, when Shotgun took aim at a quail, he ended up shooting a cow instead. The other boys immediately took the gun away from him, in case he should shoot one of them next, and from that moment on everyone called him Shotgun. According to this story, the name is thus ironic.
In the second story that Grandma tells, Shotgun got his name during the Civil War. According to this story, Shotgun fought in the war with the "Illinois Volunteers," and he refused to use "government-issue firearms." Instead, Shotgun preferred to use his own "Remington pump-action" shotgun. Grandma says that during the Civil War, Shotgun was "always a crack shot." She also says that after the war he came home with "a line of medals bigger than his chest." Grandma also embellishes this story further when she says that Shotgun was given his name by none other than Ulysses S. Grant, the famous and acclaimed Union general. The meaning of Shotgun's name in this story is of course very different to the meaning of his name in the first story. In the first story, he is named Shotgun ironically, because he can't shoot straight. In the second story, he is named Shotgun as a compliment to his prowess with a gun.