View Full Version : Correct procedure to pattern a shotgun

August 23, 2002, 01:30 PM
Due to the great advice from people at this forum, I finally picked up my new (used, but new to me) Remington 870 Express in 12 Ga last Tuesday. It came with a 26" VR bbl w/ a Skeet and Mod chokes along with a 20" rifled slug bbl. Got it for $250 at AuctionArms. I'm thinking it's a good deal as the gun seems to be in great shape and used combo sets around here were in the mid $300s.

Now that I have it, I've already set up time to shoot some clays next week. (I can't wait for that by the way)

I keep reading posts which say to pattern the shotgun first with the different chokes. I have a vague idea that this will show me how the gun spreads the shot.

My question pertains to what yardage should I set targets up at, what am I ultimately looking for at each range and what if anything should I be concerned about when looking at the spread?

I tried doing a search first but I didn't find anything specific to patterning a shotgun. If someone knows of a post which already covers this please let me know were to find it.

Thanks for the information and the help. This forum is a great resourse for new shooters.


August 23, 2002, 06:24 PM
I can tell you what I do.

I pattern at different ranges, from 25 yards to 60. I decide what I want to accomplish and then try to do it. For example, if a new skeet load/gun is wanted I will set up my paper at 25 yards and shoot a couple patterns with each "variable" before changing anything. Patterns are like fingerprints, no two are the same, just similar. Shoot a couple patterns and THEN change something like a choke or a new load. I do not count pellets very often, rather I look for even distribution over as wide an area as possible and still get the job done. For skeet I look for a pattern that is as wide as possible and still will hit a clay bird with at least 3 pellets anywhere in the pattern.

For geese I look for the maximum range I can put 4 BBB on the goose, and tinker with things trying to eek another couple yards out of it.

For trap I pattern at 36-40 yards.

For sporting clays I pattern several chokes to see what works best at what yardages, even though I screw in a light mod and shoot the whole course most of the time.

Just decide what the goal is and pattern accordingly. Shoot your pattern at the range that you expect to shoot at, or maximum range you will see knowing that inside of that density is more than enough. Check for a pattern that will do what you need.

Keys are even distribution and adequate density.

August 23, 2002, 09:13 PM
Your research on this forum has probably revealed that when it comes to a shotgun patterning, it depends a lot on the brand/load of ammo and your shotgun. So, one of the variables you need to control in your patterning is the ammo... Brand A #X may perform wildely differently than Brand B #X birdshot, etc. Not a scientifically satisfying situation, but that's life.