Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 63

Patterning a Shotgun
Did you ever wonder why some shotguns shoot better or worse than others? I have had some of those same experiences, and in earlier years if the gun had a habit of consistently missing claybirds or straightaway game birds, I just got rid of it. Later on, however, when a particular gun was aesthetically attractive, balanced and swung just right, but wasn’t consistently hitting, I began to pattern it before thinking of getting rid of it. Patterning a shotgun is the best thing you can do if you want to know exactly where that column of shot is hitting in relation to your target. The visual results can be a real eye opener. There are no specific gun brands/models that shoot any better than any other, although you would expect the more expensive ones to perform better, but that may not necessarily be the case. A simple and inexpensive way to pattern a shotgun is to staple a 4- by 4-foot sheet of light colored paper on a cardboard or wooden framed backboard, draw a 30-inch circle in the center of it, and place about a 6-inch circle dead center on that paper (I usually use a fluorescent dot so I can see it better). Back off about 40 yards, mount the gun as you would on a flying bird, place that front bead at 6 o’clock on that 6-inch circle and take the shot. The heaviest pellet density should be centered on the 6-inch circle. If it isn’t, then a possible gun adjustment of your gun’s bead, stock or barrel(s) may be necessary to get it there. (Some sportsmen go so far as to draw a line from top to bottom and left to right in that circle, and do a pellet count, but a visual look at the pattern placement is usually good enough.) Before you have your gun adjusted if the 6-inch circle isn’t centered, though, a “pattern placement” cure can be as easy as trying several different brands/ loads of ammunition. Just like with rifle or handgun ammunition, different loads can shoot in different places, and shotgun ammo is no different. At 40 yards a full choke gun should deliver 70 percent of the pattern within that 30-inch circle, with a modified choke there should be about 60 percent and an improved cylinder should deliver about 50 percent. Now, keep in mind that a column of shot (that is made up of round pellets) is traveling at around 1,200 fps and is pushed out rather than spiraled out, as with a single conical projectile from a rifle or pistol, so it loses velocity and trajectory rapidly. If a pattern is shooting low at 40 yards, it might be right on the money at 25 yards. If your gun has an improved cylinder choke, then that’s perfect because the optimum density (70 percent) effective yardage of an IC is 25 yards. For a modified choke it is at around 30 yards. So it’s a good idea to shoot a pattern every 10 yards, just to see how that column of shot behaves. If it performs correctly at the chokes’ effective yardage, then leave it alone. Another advantage in knowing how the pattern behaves is that it can help in using a little plus or minus “Kentucky windage” to center game as you shoot at slightly different distances within your choke’s ability. Years ago, when I first got into shotgunning, an older sportsman once told me, “ Son, I would never take my rifles out to hunt if they weren’t sighted in, and the same goes for my shotguns. I need to know what they’re doing, so I

know what I’m doing.” Well, I have to admit, that was some pretty good advice and it has certainly helped me along the way in competition and in the field, and I hope it will help you, too.

SEPTEMBER 2011

63



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011

Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011
Myths & Legends of the Whitetail
Contents
Triple Trophy — Thrice
National Archery in the Schools Program
One More Squirrel Hunt with Dad
Harvey Roberts
Pennsylvania’s Hunter Access Program
State Game Lands 93
Right Violators, Wrong Deer
A Shot in the Pines
Field Notes
Conservation News
Off the Wire
Another View
The Naturalist's Eye
Fun Game
Straight from the Bowstring
Lock, Stock & Barrel
Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Myths & Legends of the Whitetail
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Triple Trophy — Thrice
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 5
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 6
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - National Archery in the Schools Program
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 8
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 9
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 10
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - One More Squirrel Hunt with Dad
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 12
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 13
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 14
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 15
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Harvey Roberts
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 17
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 18
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 19
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Pennsylvania’s Hunter Access Program
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 21
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 22
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - State Game Lands 93
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 24
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 25
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 26
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 27
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Right Violators, Wrong Deer
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 29
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 30
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 31
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - A Shot in the Pines
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 33
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Field Notes
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 35
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 36
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 37
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 38
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Conservation News
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 40
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 41
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 42
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 43
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 44
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 45
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Off the Wire
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Another View
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 48
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 49
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - The Naturalist's Eye
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 51
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 52
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Fun Game
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Straight from the Bowstring
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 55
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 56
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 57
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 58
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Lock, Stock & Barrel
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 60
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 61
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 62
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 63
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - I1
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - I2
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Cover4
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