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My primary interest is dove and I was hoping that someone could answer a few questions on the appropriate way to go about pattering for this. How far away from the paper do I need to be? How many pellets within what size of circle do I need to be at for acceptable results? Have I confused you yet? I know that I am confused! Thanks. Bushman
 

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Factors

Gague - Choke - Shot - hunting style

you should be as far away as you think you will shot, then you should guestimate the size of the dove and adjust your choke to ensure at least 4-5 pellets hit within this minimum size, for the maximum spread.

confused? Just have fun. If you can adjust your chokes and have a single I would go Modified. If you have a Double, I would go IC/M. Bring your choke tubes in the field and adjust if you are not gettting close enough to the birds (35 yards or as your patterning tells you)

Choke is just a measurment of % of pellets in a 30 inch diameter circle at 40 yards. Full choke for example should put 70% of the pellets in this circle. ( circle is defined by the densest portion of the shot patter, start there and draw your circle, then start counting.)
# of pellets is determined by *****, Shot size, and load weight.

I bet there is a much better explination somewhere. Remmington has a good site, and they have some film on thier new heavy loads that shows what I am trying (failing) to properly explain.
 

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Bushman,
Since you shoot a fixed mod choke you need to get as many different kind of shells as you can and see which one patterns better in your guns.

What your looking for is a 30 yard pattern that covers the better part of a 30" circle. This will be a little tough, but just get a nice big 48x48 hunk of paper and figure out a way to stand it up, I staple it to a 1/2 of an old ping pong table that I stand up with two tposts behind it.

30 yards is a good place to start make sure to give yourself something to aim at in the middle. You'll see immediately which ones shoot the most dense patterns.
 

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Bushman,

You've received very good advice, but I'm going to try to phrase it a little differently and more specific for your situation regarding dove hunting.

First, buy 2 or 3 different kinds of shells, #8 shot, in the appropriate gauge for your gun. Then set up a paper target at least 40" x 40" (or preferably larger) at 30 yards. Put the Improved Cylinder choke in your gun and shoot at the paper target. Then draw a 30" diameter circle around the densest portion of the pattern. Do this again with another sheet of paper and the other different loads (one load for each target). Then compare the targets visually to see which target has the densest and most uniform distribution of pellets inside the 30" circle. In other words, which pattern would a dove have the hardest chance of flying through unscathed? This is the load that you want.

If you think you may be doing shooting at distances considerably longer than 30 yards, try the same test with the Modified choke. If in doubt, use the data from the Imp Cyl choke test. Also, of course, use this Imp Cyl during your dove hunting. When you gain more experience and become a better shooter, you can consider tightening up to Modified choke, but until then, I think you'll do best with Imp Cyl. Happy hunting. :D

P.S. If your gun is a fixed choke gun, then obviously you have to use the choke that you have. No problem. Modified should work fine too.
 

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Since patterning is a chore, but tells the tale, it might be worth expanding on the subject. The note I might add would be to fire at least five patterning sheets for a given cartridge for a particular choke and distance to verify consistency in your results. One shot alone is not enough to give you a sense of the variations in performance you can expect.
 

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When I pattern shotguns I use paper at least 48" x 48". Larger is better. Since you probably won't find any that size, buy some spray on adhesive and glue up your sheets before you go to the range. When I do this I paint a 3" circle in the middle to aim at and I print on the paper what shell I'm shooting, the distance used and the choke used. If you do this before, it really helps when you are trying to figure out your patterns later.

The 30" circle is the key so you need to be able to find the maximum number of pellets within that circle. I bought a sheet of acrylic, drilled a center hole to work from and scribed a 30" diameter from that centered hole. Then I cut the 30" circle out. When you aim (from a bench or rest) at your new target, put the painted target on top of your barrel bead. Squeeze one off. Pull off your target and put up another, etc.

When you're finished shooting, lay your targets on a table, get your 30" circle and position it so you get the maximum number of pellets beneath the circle then take a pen and draw a circle around that area using your acrylic pattern. When you do, mark the center of the acrylic pattern as well. I then draw a line halving the circled target and then draw another straight line to quarter the target. Count the pellets. Look at where the new center of your pattern is after drawing your circle. My Benelli 20 gauge centers the pattern 4" to 5" higher than where I have aimed. Always interesting.

Full choke, 70% of shot in 30" circle at 40 yards.
Improved modified choke, 65% of shot in 30" circle at 40 yards.
Modified choke, 60% of shot in 30" circle at 40 yards.
Improved cylinder choke, 50% of shot in 30" circle at 40 yards.
Skeet choke, 70% of shot in 30" circle at 25 yards.
 

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The BEST way to pattern your chokes is to shoot Skeet chokes at 20 yards, IC at 27 yards, Modified at 34 yards, and Full at 40 yards. Draw a 30 inch circle around the most dense part of the pattern. Those are 'ideal' ranges for those chokes, plus or minus 5 yards.

Then you KNOW what choke and load is good for your use.

BobK
 

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You have received perfect advice here, but I'm lazy and I can't abide counting pellets.

So I cheat.

Go get some 3x5 index cards. Go staple three togather, sideways, on a safe backstop. We are wanting a 15 inch wide aiming point.

Here's the idea. At exactly 10 yards from the muzzle, and you really should measure this, but I just take 10 steps of about a yard each, a full choke should shoot just about 5-8 inches, a modified choke 8-12 inches, an improved cylinder 12-15, and anything over 15 means it's a helluva skeet gun. Don't count the fliers, just the core of the pattern. This works pretty well, isn't the slightest scientific, but is the lazy man's way to determine what choke you have. So, if your choke blasts the middle card away, it's a full choke. If it spreads out halfway on either side on the two cards, it's a modified. If it covers most of all three cards, it's improved cylinder.

Now, to go on with this, go step off forty yards and put up exactly one index card. Shoot at it. You'll be surprised how few holes are there. Study it. Are there enough pellets in that 3x5 card to break a clay target or kill a bird? It takes more than one, they say. If there aren't about five or more, try a tighter choke.

The worst part about shooting at full sized paper or patterning boards is that you tend to want to use ever tighter chokes, to try to get the perfect pattern. There isn't a perfect pattern. They all have holes. They all have fliers. They all tend to shoot denser to the center. My fixed choke modified Super X shoots the prettiest, roundest patterns of the many, many shotguns I own, and it's not perfect (although it's close enough for mortal man). :lol:
 

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I am between BobK and SuperX1.

Get some 36" brown rapping paper cut in 36" squares. Make a 2" aim point in the middle.

Use BobK's distances with the appropriate choke and the ammo that you plan to use. If you gun is fixed choked just do the different distances to figure out the optimum distance to shoot at the dove.

Shoot at the aim point like it is an incoming dove.

Just study the pattern for density and location relative to the aim point.

This way you have an idea of where you are shooting and the effectiveness of your pattern with your various chokes and at different distances.

If you have the time and desire shoot a few more patterns to get a better idea of what your gun and ammo are doing; making sure that the first one was not a freak a pattern and/or point of impact.
 

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SuperXone,

I have used the 10 yd method for many years. Gives a pretty good idea of how your shot pattern behaves.

I would like to add that I have changed from #8 shot to #7 1/2 for dove. Did it about 5 years ago. Cuts down on the cripples. I set my polychoke on IC and bring home what I can hit. Later on in the season when the doves are high and fast I use high base #6s with the choke set on Modified. Sometimes even Full if they are real high.
 

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If you're stuck using a pattern plate and grease, you can bring a digital camera with you and take pictures. Just make note of what chokes and shells you used by frame and don't forget to draw a scale on the plate for reference.

bb
 

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Hey folks,

I'm going to be doing some patterning soon, but the outdoor range I'll be doing it at has fixed target holders at 25 and 50 yards. Since I'm mainly using the gun for skeet, I'm going to stick w/ the 25 yard range holders. That said, I will pattern each of the three chokes the shotgun comes at, if only to find consistency and to confirm that the choke really throws what it says it does.

My question is, is it a waste of time to pattern all three chokes, given that I can't move the targets to all the exact distances I want?

Cameron
 

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Zeede - Will that be your new Browning? The center stake on a Skeet field is 21 yards from stations 1 through 7 and, if you're shooting correctly, nearly all your shots will be taken at that distance or less. If the outdoor range will let you move up to 20 yards (maybe you can go early when no one else is there) you'll get the best idea of what the pattern will look like at the distances you'll be breaking your Skeet targets.

When actually shooting Skeet just install the most open choke (probably Skeet or Improved Cylinder) and forget the others. But for the sake of knowing how your gun shoots I'd pattern all three chokes, mostly to make sure they're all shooting to the same spot.

It's never a "waste of time" to educate yourself in a meaningful way about how your shotgun/choke combination performs. Good luck with your new gun, and have fun :)
 

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Yep, that'd be my new Browning. I can pick it up on Monday (only 5 days more!). I figure I can get some fresh air, break in the gun, and pattern the three chokes, as well as find out which of the three "value" brands it likes the best (Federal, Remington, Winchester). Kill four birds with one stone! :)

This place has large wooden frames they built at various distances, the first one at 7 yards (a good distance to see how my gun patterns w/ 00 buckshot for home defense) and the next-closest at 25 yards. So, I'm pretty much stuck w/ either 7, 25, or 50 yards.

Cameron
 
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