Shotguns and Patterning

Shotguns and patterning go hand in hand. Any time you decide to hunt with your shotgun, you should pattern it. that is, know how it shoots with the choke you have in it and the shot you are using. A lot of shooters don't take the time to do this with their shotguns, but it is an important step to a successful hunt. The pictures below show how I pattern my shotgun. Thanks to Ken Grau for letting me photograph him for this piece.

 Ken taking shot

The first thing to remember when patterning is protection. Notice Ken is wearing ear protection, and though not seen, has glasses on as he fires his Benelli 12 ga.


This target shows where the shooter was aiming too high. Though there were a few pellets in the head area, it is still not a desired hit.

 high pattern
 good shot  

This target shows a good pattern with multiple hits in the head and neck areas. I was using Winchester DoubleX Magnum in 12 ga. 2 3/4" #5 shot at 30 yards with a Brilley super full turkey choke.


Always remember to leave an area as clean if not cleaner than you found it. Pick up any shells, trash, used targets, etc., that you brought in.

 clean up

Remember to use the shot size and choke that you will be hunting with. Changing either one will alter the pattern you worked to get. Try several types of shot in variuos sizes and loads. Find the one that will do the best job for you. You also should practice at the distance you will be hunting from. The patterns above were from 30 yards. But that is with the knowledge of what our distance will be on our hunt. Try different yardages with each load and know your effective range.Deer hunters spend many hours sighting in their rifles and turkey and waterfowlers should spend as much time getting to know their shotguns.

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