The different shotguns may shoot the pellets following different patterns. The pattern of a shotgun may not be at the center in some cases, while in others it may carry gaps. The pattern of a shotgun may also be impacted by its brand, choke size, and shot type. You may want to know the answer to the question “Why do hunters pattern their shotguns?”. Hunters would like to shoot at the target and produce the best performance every time. They can pattern their shotguns for better results and more accurate shots and aiming.
The Benefits of Patterning a Shotgun
If your spread of shot is not on target, it may not always be a fault with your shooting skill. Many people may shoot hunting guns for their entire life while not knowing why they were missing the shots. Properly patterning your shotgun will improve the effectiveness of the ammo, choke, and shotgun combination. It is similar to “zeroing” a rifle or “tuning” a compound bow. If you are shooting with a shotgun, you should know the chokes’ effective range. The shotgun chokes and the shotgun shell should be able to produce an effective throw and pattern. A shotgun may have a smaller margin for error. Therefore, the flight of the pellets should be distributed with good enough concentration to be effective and lethal. Pattern may improve the concentration.
Importance of Patterning your Shotgun
Hunters should carefully evaluate the point of impact and the point of aim. The bead of your shotgun may not match the pattern center. For example, a shotgun of the brand Benelli typically has a high pattern. The hunter can see the target while aiming at it, which is called “floating” the target. Because the pattern of the shotgun is high, the barrel will not cover the target and make it invisible to the shooter. However, you should check the pattern and not take it for granted for any shotgun or weapon. The shotgun patterns may be high dead and low. It may also be displaced left or right. The pattern may depend on the barrel length, choke and the load. You can only know the pattern of a shotgun or any other shotgun model by testing it with ammunition and the choke tubes.
The Procedure of Patterning a Shotgun
You must pattern your shotgun before you use it for hunting, for more accurate shots and better performance. You need not make any heavy expenditures for it as it can be done by using homemade cardboard targets and simple paper targets as well. You can use blank paper sheets having a size of “4 by 4” feet. You can also use a commercial target (with a bull’s eye) for aiming. Below are some of the important steps to follow when you want to pattern your shotgun.
Step 1: Place your target (a sheet of paper) and fire a single shot at its center or the Bull’s eye. The shot should be fired from the same distance that you expect will be there in the quarry. For instance, the distance is approximately 35 yards when you are trying to shoot and hunts waterfowl. You need to fire 2 more shots. Use a new blank sheet of paper and target for each of the shots.
Step 2: the papers will show you the shooting pattern after you make a few shots. Create and draw a circle of thirty inches around the pellet shot pattern’s densest part, on all three targets and the paper sheets. It may be away from the center of the target and the paper sheet.
Step 3: Now you need to count the number of pellet holes that each of the target papers has within the 30-inch circle that you have drawn. You can use a marker and mark these holes one at a time until you count them all.
Step 4: Now you can easily calculate the percentage of the pellet and the load that may land within the densest “30-inch” circle area when you shoot at the game birds from the quarry.
You first need to calculate the average by adding all three counts (from the three sheets of paper). Divide the sum by 3. Now you can calculate the percentage by dividing the pellet count that you obtained by the total amount of ammunition and pellets that you are using. Multiply the outcome by a hundred to get the percentage.
Evaluating the Accuracy of Shot Patterning
An even density for the pallets within the “thirty-inch circle can help you determine whether you can make clean kills. A sufficient load percentage would be at least 60%. If you are not satisfied with the number, you can continue the patterning process by trying the different load and choke combinations. After some time, you will get a good enough pattern density that will have a sufficient load percentage within the circle. In the real field and world, it will match the outcomes of the shots that you make from your quarry.
There are other things worth considering as well. For instance, if you are shooting the upland birds, geese, and ducks, you usually shoot at their wings and when the barrel is being swung. For such hit and shooting, the pellet distribution should be over a wider zone. On the other hand, a turkey is shot by using a dead hold. It is also usually shot from much greater distances. For such shooting, you need patterns tighter within a 10-inch circle. It is about the same size as that of the “neck and head” region of wild turkeys. Hunters say that you may need somewhere around 80 to 100 pellets shot between the same region for a reliable hit and kill.
Sometimes you may get unsatisfactory or irresponsible patterns due to the ammunition or the choke of the turkey gun. You may switch to the “Extra Full Choke” variety for correcting the issue. The ammunition and choke combo are usually patterned from a distance between 35 to 40 yards. However, you may ensure even better results by increasing the range to 50 yards. Also, ensure that you are not making the shots while sitting, but from a standing position.
Know the Pellet Metal Properties
You can learn more about the metal properties that are used for making the shot pellets for making a better choice. It may help improve the barrel or choke performance. Pellets made of bismuth and lead will have similar kinds of patterns due to their similar density and hardness. Pellets made of tungsten will have a tight pattern at even greater distances (due to their better density) when compared to lead and steel. One important thing to remember is that only tungsten or super shot choke should be used for shooting the tungsten pellet or it may tear the tube. Another important aspect of patterned shotguns is that a larger short will have a tight pattern when compared to a smaller shot.
The different choke, ammunition, and shotgun combinations may give different results. Even the distinct brands may differ slightly in their performance despite being of the same specification. Choosing the appropriate metal pellets can also help you shoot better and with greater accuracy.
Your Shooting Position/Stance
For shooting with the shotgun, you need better flexibility and quick reflexes when compared to rifle firing. If you can learn more about shotgun techniques, you can develop a more fluid and rapid response for hitting the targets. Most of the hunters would fire a shotgun at a moving bird or a target from a standing stance and position like tree stands. For maintaining control, the shooter hunter should be able to swing the body freely over a wide area and arc. Such a stance and movement can only be achieved through a more balanced and relaxed body position.
For shooting a shotgun, you need to stand with your feet spread about the length of your shoulder. You can bend your knees a bit so that your entire posture and stance are well-balanced. If you shoot from the right hand (are a right-handed person), bring the left foot forward slightly. Lean your body in the same left direction. The whole stance goes just opposite for the left-handers. The forward foot’s toe should be pointing at approx. 45 degrees towards your target. Whether it is a quick shot or you take some time for shooting, ensure that your feet are placed properly. You will be able to swing your body easily towards a moving target if your knees are in a slightly bent position. Your hip movement will be supported by the bent leg as well, and it will help you swing your body easily and swiftly.
Your shotgun may only eat up all the pellets if you are not aware of its pattern. It is important to pattern the ammunition and choke combinations at multiple distances. Count the pellets and shots and take an average to find out how accurate you are. The process may be expensive as the high-quality shells may cost more than $ 10 for each round. However better performance and accuracy will help you get better results, and the initial expenditure would be worth it. Also, before shooting a bird or turkey hunts blind, always check the shotgun and the ammunition combination, especially when any of these are changed.