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 Post subject: Re: Complete new by question....chokes?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 3:39 pm 
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rbertalotto wrote:
At 25 yards with IC and Cylinder chokes all shot was centered and within a 18” circle. Not sure what I should expect with a 28GA.
The definition of a choke is determined by how much of the shot is inside a 40" circle at 40 yards (see picture in my previous post). If ALL of the shot was within an 18" circle at 25 yards, that sounds like a full choke to me.



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 Post subject: Re: Complete new by question....chokes?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 3:51 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 04, 2018 1:07 pm
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To be mor3 accurate as to pattern, do you literally count the shot and see how many are on the board. My target board is only 24” wide. Maybe I need a bigger board?

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 Post subject: Re: Complete new by question....chokes?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 5:10 pm 
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rbertalotto -- 25 yards is really pretty close and you should have pretty tight patters with the IC at that distance. I believe Rastoff should have said 30" not 40" circle.

If you are patterning to assess your load and choke performance, not checking for your guns Point-of-Aim/Point-of-Impact (POA/POI), here is a short list of steps to follow.

First, you’ll want to make sure you use good methods so your data will be accurate and to allow you to make fair comparisons between loads, chokes, pellets, etc. Patterning the right way does take time and effort (another reason to do it right the first time), but it is the only way to find out what a load and/or choke is doing.

Steps for shotgun patterning:

1) Set up a pattern board (4' x 4') frame with a backing material like cardboard or particle board to attach the pattern sheets.

2) Get some large (40" x 40" minimum) pattern sheets of paper or cardboard. Many prefer to use 48” x 48” sheets of white paper. These large sheets will allow you to capture the majority of the pattern and make identification of the densest 30" portion much easier. This is particularly true if you are going to be patterning at distances beyond 40 yards.

3) Measure off your shooting distance from muzzle to target. Yes, 40 yards is the industry standard for evaluating choke performance, and a good distance to pattern some loads, but you’ll want to pattern your loads/chokes at the distances you’ll be shooting your birds/targets. As an example, if you need a good 30-yard load/choke combo then pattern at that distance, and if you need a good 50-yard load/choke combo then you’ll want to shoot your patterns at 50 yards.

4) Now that you have a pattern board and some pattern sheets, attach a blank pattern sheet to the pattern board and fire one shot at the center of the sheet. This can be an off-hand shot or shot from a bench, it doesn't really matter, since you are just trying to get the pattern reasonably centered on the paper. You can put an aim point in the center of the paper if you need it, but you don't have to and it is only to give you an aim point. This aim point shouldn’t influence you when drawing the 30-inch pattern circle around the densest portion of the pattern, more on this later. As a side note, you may get some indications of POA/POI issues during this pattern testing but that isn’t what we are concentrating on now. It is something you may need to address latter however.

5) Remove the sheet from the pattern board and repeat the process. Remember, you must shoot a minimum of three patterns for an average and five or even ten is better. Shotguns are not exacting instruments and variation between pattern numbers is the norm, so averaging is a must. And, shooting one pattern to get an idea of what it is going on with a load/choke can be misleading!

6) Now that you have shot your patterns, draw a post-shot 30" diameter circle (use a 15-inch piece of string with a pencil or a yard stick with holes 15-inches apart to scribe a 30-inch circle) around the densest portion of the pattern. Yes, do this after the shot not before. Why after the shot? Because, you’re trying to evaluate the load/choke not your ability to center a shot in a pre-drawn 30-inch circle!

7) Count the pellet strikes in the 30-inch circle and average your pattern numbers. You can then calculate a pattern percentage by dividing the average pattern count by the in-shell pellet count if you like. To get a true pattern percentage you will need to cut open and count the pellets in several unfired shells so you will have the true average in-shell pellet count. Remember, pattern percentages tell you about load/choke “efficiency” and if you choke is performing to factory standards, not necessarily how “effective” the load/choke will be at killing birds or breaking targets, see below for more details on that.

Important points to consider:

1) How many pellets did your load/choke put in the 30-inch circle? Birds of different sizes/types require different pattern densities in order to reliably hit the vital areas.

2) What size/type of shot were you using? Birds of different types/sizes require different amounts of pellet energy to penetrate the vital areas.

3) What yardage do you normally shoot your birds? Birds shot at longer distances will usually require larger pellets to maintain enough pellet energy to penetrate the vital areas.

4) What yardage was your load/choke capable of maintaining killing pattern densities? Longer distances usually require tighter chokes to maintain the minimum pattern density for the birds you are after. However, larger pellet sizes (BB and larger), particularly in the hard shot types like steel, do generally tend to pattern better from chokes with less than full choke constrictions.

5) Common sense should also tell you to pick the load/choke that gives the most consistent patterns and the one that has fairly good pellet distributed. Remember however, patterns are random events so there will always be some variation between patterns, areas void of shot, and some clumping of shot.

Effective patterns include:

1) Sufficient Pattern Density -- enough pellet strikes in the 30-inch pattern to reliably hit the vital
areas (brain, spinal cord, heart or lungs) at the distance shot.

2) Adequate Pellet Energy -- correct pellet size and mass to retain enough per-pellet energy to penetrate the
vital areas at the distance shot.

3) Proper Choke -- enough choke to maintain adequate pattern density for the bird size/type at the distance
shot.

Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: Complete new by question....chokes?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 5:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 04, 2018 1:07 pm
Posts: 12
Wow...thank you so much for taking the time to write this great post. It’s greatly appreciated! I plan on following these instructions on all th3 shotguns just so I hav3 an idea of what I can expect in the field . Thanks again....

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Dartmouth, MA


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 Post subject: Re: Complete new by question....chokes?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:25 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:58 pm
Posts: 1187
You're welcome, glad it is helpful. I've posted this before, so I didn't have to write it up just for you.

Glad to hear your going to do some patterning, so you will know what your load/chokes are really doing. Some don't like to pattern and think it take too long and is too much work, but I actually enjoy it if I'm not in a hurry. And, if you do it right you can save your info for future reference and comparisons to other loads/chokes.

I will have to admit though that counting pellet holes from small pellet size loads (8 or 7 1/2s) can be a tedious process. As a result, I shoot my pattern sheets at a range and then take them home so I can do the counting and averaging at my leisure in the garage or house when I have time.

Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: Complete new by question....chokes?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 10:34 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:47 am
Posts: 3333
Location: Dallas, TX
I wish there were published pattern sizes we could use that equate to 40 yard patterning, but shot at 25 yards. For example, draw a 20" circle rather than a 30" when shooting at 25 yards instead of 40 yards.

I don't have access to land to shoot patterns, but can shoot my birdshot at my indoor range at 25 yards.


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 Post subject: Re: Complete new by question....chokes?
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 12:11 am 
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Yes, you'll have to count the pellets. However, that's easy with this: http://www.shotgun-insight.com/intro.html

Shoot the paper, take a picture, load it up on Shotgun Insight. The software will count the pellet holes for you and do all the statistics. It's easy.



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