Shotguns are notoriously hard to shoot accurately. Some people use chokes they’ve bought from hunting shops in Michigan in order to minimize spread. To make sure you get the right choke for your gun, you have to pattern your gun. Patterning is how gun owners figure out the spread of their shot guns. Knowing this not only helps improve your marksmanship, but it can also help you determine how best to modify your gun.
To pattern your gun, all you need is a large piece of paper as a target and the following steps:
1. Fire calibration shots
The first thing you need to do is to fire at your target’s center from the distance that you expect to be from your quarry. For example, when hunting birds, this distance could be around 35 yards. Repeat this, a couple of times with a different target. Perfect aim isn’t important. The intention is to gauge the densest area of the shot pattern.
2. Count the number of shots
Mark the densest parts of the shot patterns on the different targets with 30-inch circles. Count the number of pellets that fall within that circle for each target. You could mark them while counting for the sake of accuracy.
3. Calculate the percentage load
The average pellet count within the circles divided by the number of pellets in the load gives you the percentage load. If the percentage is between 55 and 60 percent, you are good to go to ensure a clean kill. However, if that is not the case, you can try out different choke and ammunition combinations until you get a decent percentage load.
Gun patterning is an important exercise for any gun owner. Not only will this improve your marksmanship, but it would also allow you to figure out the best way to modify your gun for your needs.