As a hunter, you most likely heard that patterning your shotgun is one of the most important practices to do. But beginner hunters don’t understand the extent of this task and even why is it so necessary. Depending on the species you are hunting for, patterning can have a different impact on your shooting technique.

In this guide, we will discuss why patterning your shotgun is important and what you should know about this type of practice.

What does it mean to pattern your shotgun?

When you pattern your shotgun, you actually test the shooting technique in various circumstances. You will be able to pattern your gun at different distances, and the most common is 20 yards and 40 yards. But ultimately, you can choose the distance you want to practice at.

You can choose to follow any specifications you want during your patterning process from tracking the point of impact and the density of your shooting to using chokes or not and the type of target you desire to hit. Take note that patterning your shotgun for hunting birds can be more difficult but also more necessary compared to hunting other prey.

You will establish the setup for your shooting and see how your technique and shooting performance changes according to this setup.

Keep in mind that the patterning process will be different for each shotgun. This varies according to the type of barrel your gun has as well as the type of chokes. If you choose to pattern your shotgun without chokes, it can become more challenging to get the prey down. So, the best way to pattern your shotgun is to try different accessories as well as different distances and see which ones help you reach your prey with the best type of impact.

Why is patterning your shotgun so important

Patterning your shotgun helps you understand how your weapon works at different distances and with different accessories. It also allows you to see the compatibility of the shell and therefore, choose your shooting equipment much better. Not all hunters use chokes but if you pattern your shotgun you will start to appreciate the positive impact a good choke can bring to your shooting as it will affect the way pellets scatter on your prey.

By patterning your shotgun, you will be aware of how the pallets impact your prey and what is the best distance to obtain a great patterning density. Pallets tend to land in random places every time you are firing your shotgun and this can be confusing, especially for beginner shooters who don’t pattern their weapon. You will also be aware of which distance works best for your shooting style if you pattern your gun. Knowing all these features that your shotgun offers you, will definitely help you improve your shooting technique and enjoy your hunting sessions a lot more.

If you don’t pattern your shotgun, you might be missing targets that otherwise you should be able to reach. Patterning becomes even more important if you are shooting from a considerable distance. Some professional hunters will even tell you that it is near impossible to obtain the performance you want if you don’t pattern your shotgun properly beforehand.

Patterning your shotgun becomes even more important if you are hunting birds and you will have to practice a bit more since they fly at a significant speed.

How to pattern your shotgun

Patterning your shotgun will become easier over time but it can seem complicated when you start doing it. It depends greatly on what type of patterning you want to do. You can focus on improving your shooting from a certain distance or you can focus simply on the performances your shotgun can bring you.

The easy way to patten your shotgun is to try using different shells at different distances. Make sure you write down all the equipment you use as well as the shooting characteristics such as the distance you shoot from so you can refer to your notes when you analyze your patterning.

It is important to use a vase for your shotgun so you can have the stability you need as you practice your shooting. The more you become an expert at it, the less you will need such accessories but it is helpful for beginners.

Keep in mind that the longer the distance, the more important the choke is. Your choke should offer you a more stable pattern density so it is important to include it in your pattern. For instance, a distance of 40 yards requires a full choke or a 3/4 choke in order to obtain the type of pattern density you want.

The rule says that the longer the range is, the more your pellets will decrease. At a shooting distance of 40 yards or 50 yards, your pellets will scatter a lot more and they will have a very different impact on your target compared to a distance of 20 yards.

The best strategy during your patterning is to try to put different distances and see which one works best for you. Patterning your shotgun until you headshot your target is always a good objective to have as such a result is best for both you and your prey.

You will have to go through about 10 patterns until you can understand what works the best for you and how your shotgun functions. If you are a beginner you might even want to do more patterns in order to master the shooting technique you want.

Final thoughts

Even if you don’t plan to become a professional hunter, it will definitely help you to pattern your shotgun so you can be successful at reaching your target. You want to pattern your weapon to know it better so you can make the most out of it during your shooting session. But at the same time, you want to pattern your shotgun so you hit your target in the most humane way and make sure they don’t suffer. There are many techniques to pattern a shotgun but the one that aligns best with your hunting objectives is the best for you!