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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is about time to get ready for the fall hunting season, so here is the how to of doing it that I have saved in my computer. I hope this helps a few of you out in how to do it.

Patterning a shotgun.

I use Plastic white tablecloth that can be bought in 100' rolls about 40" wide. I use 2 - 2x4's, 6' long with pointed ends and pound them in the ground almost 40" apart until they are very stable. I staple the plastic on to each side with about 8 staples onto the upright 2x4's. Make sure the plastic is taught across. I add a bold + at dead center for aiming purposesusing a majic marker, and then I use a 15" length of line attached to the magic marker and draw the 30" dia circle. I write on the corner the date, weather conditions, wind speed and direction in relation to target, manufacturer of the load, which load(shot size, amount of shot and FPS), and the choke and which gun. I fire from a bunch rest. A hood of a truck with several boat cushions or such will work too. Make sure you have a SAFE area behind the target. If the plastic tears off from the posts because of the wind, generally it is too windy to get accurate results, so wait for a calmer wind day. You can use a 4x4' piece of plywood as a backer too.

I use 3 shots minimum to calculate percentages and groupings. I circle with a magic marker and count each shot hit in the 30" circle and write it on the target. You can either use ballistic tables which tell you the number of pellets per ounce of shot or you can open up a shell and count the total number of pellets in it. Take the total hits and divide by the total pellets in the shell and this is the percentage of hits that hit within the 30" circle. Use these 3 shots for each choke and Each different load. The idea is to look for nice even patterns with the density you are looking for. This may entail buying many manufacturers and different loads to determine the best loads for your gun. To keep it more cost effective, I'd recommend buying only High Velocity loads (1450fps and over) if hunting for waterfowl. But be aware that HV shells have a more shattered pattern (not as evenly distributed/ a broken up pattern if you will) compared to standard shells. But the increased foot lbs. of energy is really worth it especially on big ducks and geese when compared to standard (1400fps and less) loads. One of the things I noticed is how few pellets there really are in the bigger shot loads---it is hard to get a nice filled pattern, but with the HV shells I have gone to smaller shot sizes the last few years than say 3 or especially 10 years ago. I now like to shoot the corresponding equivalent lead shot sizes from 20 years in these new HV steel shot loads. My problem is finding the smaller shot sizes from suppliers in factory HV loads. Also save the plastic targets for future references.

Here is a table of 575fps velocity threshold and the corresponding range at which it drops below the 575 speed. The 575 speed is the point at which the pellet can not effectively kill a bird if it drops below this speed. But this is only part of the picture, as there is the pattern density, EG what is the foot lb. of energy required to kill a bird. The bigger the bird the more foot lbs of energy required to kill it cleanly. The Teal is much lower than a Mallard, or a Lesser Canada and the big Giant Canada goose. And to increase foot lbs. of energy you need 3 things, 1 is faster pellets , 2 is closer range, and the third is the number of pellets that actually hit the bird (pattern density). There is some division on what is required to kill a bird. 1 camp says it takes 5 to 6 hits period to kill a bird. While another says there is a corresponding ft lbs. of energy of a pellet x how many actually hit the bird. I choose to stay out of this argument, but just wanted you to know there are differences of opinions out there. Sorry but I do not have the table for required ft lbs. of energy to kill a specific sized bird.

Steel Ballistic chart of HV shot.

Shot size 6 5 4 3 2 1 B BB BBB T

1450 fps 43 47 51 55 58 62 65 70 73 77
1500 fps 44 48 52 56 59 64 68 71 75 79
1550 fps 45 49 53 57 61 65 69 73 77 81
1600 fps 46 50 54 58 62 66 71 75 78 82
1650 fps 47 51 55 59 63 67 72 76 80 84
1700 fps 47 51 56 60 64 68 73 77 81 86
1750 fps 47 51 56 60 64 68 73 77 81 86
1800 fps 47 51 56 60 64 68 73 77 81 86

Something to consider is that most hunters can not effectively shoot past 40 yds. because of personal limitations, not limitations of the loads they are shooting. There are very few guys that can consistently shoot over 60 yds and cleanly kill birds even when using loads that can actually effectively shoot that far. Remember skybusting is shooting at anything past what the load can perform AND/OR shooting past your personal limitations.

Oh and most importantly, why do it? Simply because a goose pattern will mean more birds in your bag and less cripples too. :thumbsup:

Well this is how I do it, and it works very well for me when pattern testing a gun and load.
 

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h2ofwlr,

Great Post. Although I don't agree with the premise of that particular Ballistic chart, You have done as good as job in a short little "How To" that I have seen in a while.

One thing I would like to add. As h2ofwlr wrote "most hunters can not effectively shoot past 40 yds. because of personal limitations, not limitations of the loads they are shooting". If you do not know how to lead a duck past 40 yards why do you need a full choke? Use a choke that gives you a dense enough pattern at the range you are shooting. An IC is usually tight enough out to 40 yards (at the min 35). If you measure out a true 40 yards you'll see that it is a pretty good shot. Most hunters do not get the benefit of shooting a tight choke.
 

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I just want to give a quick example of why that chart is worthless.

Say your using #6 shot at 1450 fps.The chart says that it has killing power ("575 speed is the point at which the pellet can not effectively kill a bird if it drops below this speed") at 43 yards.

Some problems with this:

Are you hunting geese or teal? I feel safe to say if you are shooting a 12 gauge with a decent choke you should be able to put several #6 pellets into a goose. If you think a steel #6 is going to completely penetrate a goose at 43 yards I feel safe to say you are mistaken. If you hit him in the head or neck you'll probably have a dead goose, although I think it is more likely you would have a cripple. Not many people would consider #6s an effective goose load (even over decoys). The CONSEP study ,which is probally the most informative study of steel loads ever, even goes as far as saying "steel #4 has exibited good all-around performance for taking small and medium-sized ducks, but has not proven lethal on large ducks beyond 45 yards" If 4s are not good for large ducks at 45 yards I dare say 6s are not much of a goose load at 43 yards.

I just wanted to simply explain why 575 fps is not a cut and dried way to figure out the killing range of a pellet.
 

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I agree with patterning a shotgun. However, such patterning is always subjective to the style and type of hunting one does. In addition pattern efficiency with steel can be a tricky thing to determine as wind and weather effect steel shot greatly. If you want to find out what your shotgun,choke, load, performance is, pattern it in the same type of weather you will be hunting in. Cold weather reduces steel shot shells performance drastically. Every shotgun patterns differently even by the same manufacture. I use several choke load combo's that suit the type of hunting I will be doing.
 

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I fully agree with putting your loads on paper! How else will U know where your "impact area" is with each load & gun used. I had a A-5 that would shot #2 steel at 50yards c/o a 71% pattern. But it failed to always eject shells.My new gun only gets a 63% patternwith 2's. However I do get 196 #5's with a mod choke @ 45 yards onto a 30" paper. At 55yards I get a 65% pattern c/o BB's. Not great but it should work.
 

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h2ofwlr, Great info, but some of it is wrong. Ned S (loads steel in 1724 fps range) was saying that there was a ping-pong ball effect to light steel, that is wrong. A lot of guys got on his case for it and later he said he was wrong. The faster you launch a pellet, the harder it will strike. Steel #6es will not kill a goose to 43 yards. You need to add some from the 575 fps rule for small steel and take some for bigger steel. Steel #6es likely have enough energy for a 15# goose out to 15-20 yards at most. You need to know how big that bird will be and elevation of the gun when it is fired. "It pays to live high." #T will hit harder at 1800 fps than 1600 fps. I know that for a fact. There is a problem with lowery's prgram and I don't know how you made the chart, but that seems to be it. Just food for thought.
 

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Goosehunter; :salude: I'm with you, somtin smells fishy in Denmark!!
Like Citori12 said; all the data "looks great" on paper. Some times I think those guys give the little pellets a helping hand, if you know what I mean.
All I know, is if you drop a box of golf balls on your foot; you were darn glad the box was not holding your BOLWING BALL !!!
Later guys......Sage
 

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I was looking this over again and realized that from 1450fps to 1600fps that for every 50fps you gained roughly 2 yards but from 1600fps to 1800fps you gain nothing. So according to this shooting steel is like shooting a nerf ball..it launches good for a specified distance and then slows down quickly....hmmmmm that would tend to shoot holes through any theroy stating that you can actually kill something at 60 yards with steel....interesting.

But then hey I have never once stopped a bird in mid air to estimate distance....and when they were 60 yards out with wings set I kinda figured it would be all right to just let em slide right on in.

my .02
 

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C12; :salude:

Like I said a long time ago.....when it hits 40 yards, it is like some one pulls the "rip cord" !

That is also why I only tested one box at 1850 fps. 1675 fps was not much better.

I will stick to 1550fps MAX. 1395fps min. for close stuff. :thumbsup:

Sagebrush
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Actually there is a cap in the program. Meaning a 1800fps cap, but you see at muzzle velocity, it can not be measured effectively, so they measure it at 3 to 3.5" away from the muzzle--the point is the speed is still accelerating, thus if you a reading of over 1800fps, it is capped and thus that is why the yardages are the same at about 1650fps. Ed's program has the 1800fps cap. He would have to reprogram the program to 2000fps to effectively compute the true yardages where it starts to repaet itself, I just learned that this past week.
 

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That is what I thought. Something was wrong. But because I have spent 25 years of my career testing computer generated designs and mock ups I also know that there is no calculations for air density, humidity, wind and temperature. So even though it may be a guideline its not what really happens in field conditions. Even with the best information given testing products under enviornmental conditions show alot of performance issues that would otherwise would not be recognized.
 

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Actually, my pattern techniques are quite a bit more intense and involves outlines of real birds and areas of vitals as well as 1" squares determining how many times a pellet enters the square within 5 patterns. By doing this I can determine how many pellets would kill or hit the bird. And I can determine probablity of duplicating hits in vital areas. Speed kills but patterns put the pellets in the vital areas for clean kills. The larger the pellet the less pattern they have at greater distances. #5steel will pattern past its energy, BBB will have energy past its pattern.
 

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The #3 pellet has actually given me the least resistance with being able to pattern decent patterns vs the #2. Energy wise I do not see much of a difference. I get a little better density with #3's. Early season I like the #5 pellet vs the #4 for the same reasons. The #1's are the goose load and yes its energy and pattern density seem to be a good match. They seem to match the BB pellet in energy but have slightly better pattern qualities. Only in my 10ga do I get any kind of patterns with BB, BBB.
 

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With steel I think this way: 1800fps is good for small pellets at short yardage, or Large pellets at long yardage.

#6 - 4's do not have the "mass" needed to "carry" a long ways.
BB's & up have the mass (weight) needed to buck the air friction (resistance) to go the distance.

The old "ping pong" vs the "golf ball" thing.

"Cracker" shooting "T's", gets one bowling ball...ha ha ha :laughing:

Later Sage
 
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