Why Do Hunters Pattern Their Shotguns? » [Answered]

patterned shotgun

Are you wondering why hunters pattern their shotguns? In today’s post, we will share why it is important and how hunters pattern their shotguns. The main aim of this guide is to help you improve your shooting experience.

If you want to be aware of your maximum range, you need to pattern your shotgun. It can help you to make your hunting trips successful. In addition, it makes it easy to identify choke-load combinations, allowing you to shoot your game at a higher hit rate.

Let us look at why patterning is important and some of the methods of patterning your shotgun.

Why Do Hunters Pattern their Shotguns & Why is Patterning your Shotgun Important?

It is important to pattern your shotgun because it unlocks a new dimension of aiming and point of aim. If you do it correctly, it will reveal how the pellets hit at different ranges. You can try using different rounds when experimenting to find out different patterns.

Therefore, it is always important to know your shotgun shells and their grain as well. This is why we recommend you go for standard even patterns if you are turkey hunting or skeet shooting.

If you have not patterned your shotgun properly, it is very easy to miss well placed shots. This is because shotgun pellets end up in different places, with a different pattern, and a different area of effect unlike a bullet from a rifle.

This means that the farther you shoot, the more your pattern breaks down. It really doesn’t matter if you’re always on target.

How to Pattern Your Shotgun

In this section, we will share how you can pattern your shotgun. The most common way is to try out different shells and shoot them at various ranges.why do hunters pattern their shotguns

It requires rigorous testing through trial and error to find out the best shell that works for your shooting requirements.

The ¾ Choke as a Standard

If you want to shoot at longer ranges, you need more choke to stabilize pattern density. We recommend using the ¾ or full choke if you are aiming at a target that is within a 40-yard range.

It is essential to note that as the range gets longer, the pellets in the pattern will decrease. This means that you need to focus on how many pellets are left in the pattern to increase your hit percentage. At least 130 pellets should be as evenly distributed as your rifle can handle, for you to increase your hit percentage.

You need to look for well-balanced loads with proven pattern consistency and power. You need to shoot two or three shots at each range from 20 and up to 50 yards with turkey cartridges. We recommend using a cardboard target in the silhouette of a turkey to see where your pellets land and decide whether it fits your shooting style.

However, you need to note that every shotgun model shoots differently. This means that you need to put it to the test thoroughly before you go hunting. A headshot is always a good sign.

The Importance of Cartridges and Shotgun Chokes

When hunting, it is always ethical to practice humane hunting. There is no need to perform mercy kills or shoot again and prolong the animal’s suffering.

This is why most hunters buy shotguns because it has the power to make clean kills with a properly modified choke tube. They are also made from high-quality materials to provide a relentless performance.

Shotgun Chokes and Patterning Go Hand-in-Hand

It is worth mentioning that the load and choke of your patterned shotgun should be similar to what you will use when hunting waterfowl. A shotgun choke tube helps with your pellet patterns, just like the nozzle of a garden hose.

The type of load and the choke play a critical role in your shotgun’s point of impact. It is calculated based on the difference between the aimed-for line of sight and how much below it the actual shot lands.

This is why you need to open the cartridge and count the pellets when patterning your shotgun. It might feel like you are wasting the cartridges, but that is what patterning is all about.

We recommend investing in a suitable gun choke to reduce your shotshells’ scattering. It also tightens or widens the pellets’ distribution depending on your shooting style. However, chokes do not affect the power of your shot.

Shorter Barrels Shoot High While Longer Barrels Shoot Low

The flight of the pellets is also affected by the chokes and patterning. This means that shotguns with shorter barrels (24-inch range) shoot higher than longer barrel shotguns.

In addition, pellets fired from high-comb shotguns move slightly to the left. On the other hand, low-comb models of the same shotgun move slightly to the right.

If you want to accurately pattern your shotgun, you need to go for the 10 to 15 shot mark. Keep a record of where the shots land with a piece of paper or cardboard targets. You can only readjust the shotgun only when it is necessary.


In this brief post, you have seen why it is important to pattern your shotgun. You do not have to be a seasoned hunter to know this because it is just shotgun 101.

Properly patterning your shotgun ensures that the turkey or duck does not pass through your shot due to widely scattered pellets. It is important to practice at the shooting range with different modifications and shells for clean, ethical, and consistent kills.

It can be a daunting task at first, but with patients and lots of trial and error, you will be able to improve your hunting experience. Testing your shotgun allows you to understand how it will perform and gives you a higher chance of killing your target game.

We hope that this post helped you to understand the importance of patterning your shotgun.