Before examining the Upland
Game and Waterfowl Charts (including target shooting), you may want to become
familiar with the terms used when "talking shotguns."
The first term to become familiar with is "choke."
The choke is located in the last few inches of shotgun's barrel. Some chokes are
built-in while others are interchangeable. The choke determines the diameter of
your pattern when fired at a stationary target. The tightest chokes are called "Full,"
and some turkey chokes on the market are even tighter "Extra-Full." The
next tightest pattern size, the most widely used choke for upland game, is "Modified."
The most wide-open, standard choke is an ""Improved Cylinder." However,
some bird hunters even use wider open chokes, such as the "Skeet "choke.
The charts will provide recommendations, options for what type of choke to use on
a particular species.
We should also briefly discuss shot size when referring to shotshells.
Remember, the smaller the number, the larger the shot (pellet), and the largest
shot sizes are "alphabet" loads. Smallest to largest for steel -- the
alphabetical shot sizes run, BB, BBB, T, and F. Thus, No. 2 shot is larger than
No. 6 shot, for example, and "F" is larger than "BB." So when
you look at shotshells of the same gauge and length, the larger the number, the
more pellets are in the shell. And more pellets mean a denser pattern. Also, the
recommended shot size is based upon how difficult it is to achieve a lethal hit
on that specific target. For example, doves are not as tough to bring down as geese,
therefore you should use smaller shot for dove.
Always pattern your shotgun with whatever load you have selected
before you go hunting. Some tips on how to pattern your shotgun are presented below.
Only when you are familiar with your shotgun, your loads, and the patterns they
combine to produce can you expect consistent results in the field.
Click here to view the Upland
Game and Waterfowl charts...
Patterning Your Shotgun
Patterning your shotgun, regardless of your target,
is crucial. Most guns are sighted-in at stationary targets at 25 yards. This should
produce about a 30-inch circular pattern with evenly distributed holes. Remember,
however, that a 12-gauge shot string is about 10-feet deep. That means if you swing
on a flying target and follow-through, you actually create an area in the air that
is 10 feet long and 30 inches wide that is full of your shot. If your target flies
into this area, it gets hit. They key is to swing and follow-through on all moving
Enjoy the Outdoors!
© 2006, The Sportsman's Guide.