Pattern Quality

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allaboutshooting
 
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Location: Southern Illinois, U.S.A.

Pattern Quality

Postby allaboutshooting » February 19th, 2013, 9:53 am

Over the years we, as turkey hunters, have done an excellent job of getting out and patterning our guns at various ranges, normally at a maximum of 40 yards, to make sure we can cleanly and ethically kill a bird with one shot.

We have pretty much adopted the 10" circle to use as an area for comparison of one choke/load to another. Many of us also like to see a good "fringe" pattern of 14", 15" or even 20" around that 10" core pattern. We want to make sure that if we move or the turkey moves, we'll still have enough pellets in the right place to make the kill cleanly.

There are always many discussions about what the number of hits should be in that 10" circle. Many of us have some number that we consider to acceptable and many of us also consider the "quality" of the pattern and not just the "quantity" of the hits.

Over the past few years, I've established a standard for evaluation patterns to count the gaps in the pattern. I like to use a 1 1/2" circle to find the gaps. I move that circle around in the pattern to try to find any place that it will fit without touching holes made by the shot.

Since no pattern is perfect, I expect to see a few of those 1 1/2" circles, maybe even 5 or 6 of them. I do not consider any pattern that has gaps of 2" or more any place in them to be acceptable however, regardless of the number of hits within that circle.

I also only consider patterns shot at real-life turkey hunting temperatures to be helpful to me, since patterns shot in higher temperatures will be much more dense and have higher numbers.

In our part of the world, in both the spring and fall, that usually means that we hunt in temperatures that are in the 40s at most. When I pattern guns in those temperatures, I know how real hunting patterns will look.

With the seemingly ever increasing cost of shotshells, it appears that we should get as much meaningful information from each shell that we shoot as possible.

Your thoughts?

Thanks,
Clark
"If he's out of range, it just means that he has another day and so do you."

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Cut N Run
 
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Location: central North Carolina

Re: Pattern Quality

Postby Cut N Run » February 19th, 2013, 1:50 pm

No doubt that quality pattern density at hunting ranges is the key to making clean & effective kills. There's no telling how many different turkey loads I've tried through many different brands and constrictions of choke tubes before I found what my guns like best. You can get effective range with many different shot/ choke combinations, but if the pattern is erratic, you stand too much chance of wounding or losing turkeys.

I started turkey hunting with an old fixed choke single shot and forced myself to hold off taking any longer shots on turkeys. I also hunted in tight cover where almost any turkey I saw clearly would most likely be in range. As I switched hunting locations and guns, I found the need something that performed better than my old single shot did at distance. The buffered, copper plated lead loads filled my needs well for a while, but it took a lot of testing to find the right load & choke combination. The patterns with copper plated lead had very few holes a turkey could survive, though the pattern deteriorated quickly as distances increased. Marking trees, rocks, or stumps at the edge of absolute effective range where I was hunting became a regular thing that I still practice. Switching over to Hevi 13 shot achieved the extra distance I was after, but my best performing choke with lead shot was not rated to handle anything besides lead. I found the right choke (thanks Clark!) to go with Hevi shot and the gun now throws dense & deadly patterns out to at least double the effective distance of my old single shot. Again, it took time at the range to determine what the gun liked best and to learn the distances where my pattern performs best.

Jim
Luck Counts, good or bad

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WillowRidgeCalls
 
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Location: Reeseville Wisconsin

Re: Pattern Quality

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » February 19th, 2013, 2:11 pm

As Clark often states about deep cleaning your barrel before sighting in, most times that gives your gun a more dense and consecutive pattern. One other thing I've noticed is that every gun prefers a different barrel, meaninng some guns shoot better with a perfectly clean barrel and some prefer a dirty barrel, to get the best pattern out of it. Sometimes your patterns open up more from a dirty barreled gun, and sometimes it tightens up? This you can find out what your barrel prefers by just shooting a cheeper field loads, but you need to know that before you start changing choke tubes. I've seen guys sight in with different chokes and they find the first choke they shot gave the best pattern and the rest didn't pattern worth a dang because they were shooting through a dirty barrel. You'll waste a lot of time and cost not knowing that, some guns are very fussy some guns aren't?
WillowRidgeCalls
WI Youth & LTH Mentor
Dodge Co. NWTF
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allaboutshooting
 
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Location: Southern Illinois, U.S.A.

Re: Pattern Quality

Postby allaboutshooting » February 20th, 2013, 12:51 am

I'll post a picuture or 2 of patterns that illustrate what I use to evaluate patterns as soon as we "recover" from the Convention. Four 14 hour days in a row plus the packing, unpacking, set-up of the booth, packing and unpacking again, plus the trip home to unpack and inventory take a toll. It was a great Convention and we appreciate the opportunity but getting back in the groove is tough.

Thanks,
Clark
"If he's out of range, it just means that he has another day and so do you."


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