Do you really know how your shotgun is shooting? Does it have the right chokes for the job? What about ammunition? How important is that? These were questions I had as I was thinking about getting my shotguns in shape. I’ve taken them for granted, assuming the factory or someone else had gotten them ready for me. Turns out, I was wrong. Each of them needed a tune-up. Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, “each one of them”, how many shotguns does one person need? Well, I would say one is typically enough, but even more ideal is when there's particular shotguns set up for specific jobs. I personally have three that I use for different reasons:
- 870 Pump Shotgun with an extended mag and full choke for home defense. This is a great gun for the purpose. I like shotguns for home defense along with pistols. The racking noise makes me confident in a scary situation. We recently launched a bundle of accessories to pair up with a O.F. Mossberg Shockwave – another great gun for home defense. Check it out and give us some feedback. We want to apply what we learn from you to the bundle we're making for the 870.
- V3 camo 12 ga with full choke, set-up for turkeys (I like the mag disconnect for easy chamber clearing without having to unload the whole gun when you are jumping in and out of ATVs)
- V3 beautiful wood 12 ga with an improved cylinder choke for Skeet
The first thing I did was give them a quick clean. I put them away clean, but I wanted to check it out. If you need cleaning supplies, you can choose the shotgun cleaning kit the Go Gear Team pre-selected, or you could use our kit builder to customize your own for your gear.
Today, I am taking them to the Montlake Sportsmen’s Club owned by Dawn and Craig Sheaffer to see how they are shooting. I plan to pattern them and then actually take a lesson with Craig to tune up my game. For the lesson, I chose to use the pretty wood V3. What a great gun. Take a look at the shot placement on the pattern board. If they are off at all, I am sure it is due to my shooting and not the gun. Now on to patterning. I wanted to be methodical about the process, and am not in a hurry, as the next duck hunt isn’t until December.
We will do this in steps.
Step 1: Decide the distance for the purpose and place a pre-made target after adding some nomenclature in the upper left:
- Gun being tested: Remington V3, 12 ga.
- Choke in the gun: Improved Cylinder.
- Ammunition used: Gun club 7 1/2.
- Distance (the research I did indicates people typically test shotguns at 40 yards): 15 and 22 yds.
For my pattern test, I chose to shoot at 22 yards and 15 yards. I was interested in seeing the difference in the pellet spread when hitting a clay over the stake on the skeet field versus hitting in close range near one of the houses.
Step 2: Set the gun correctly.
Try to eliminate anything that influences the gun performance by making sure you hold the gun steady. Use a bench if you need some support.
Step 3: Shoot 1 round.
Step 4: Pull the target in and analyze the results.
- Identify the center of the pattern of holes and mark it with a pen
- Take a string ~ 30 inches long and scribe a circle around the target. I ended up only having 2-foot wide paper, however, you can see at the two distances that I checked that it didn’t really matter. All the pellets would have been within the 30-inch circle and the gun was centering well.
15 Yard Results
I marked the pellets that were outside the black. I only counted 19 out of the 375 outside the 12-inch black circle.
22 Yard Results
It was interesting to see the 22-yard pellet spread cover 3 times more area on the paper when compared to the 15-yard spread.
I wish I would have done this exercise a while ago, as it has given me confidence to know the gun is shooting where I expect. And seeing the difference between 15 yards and 22 yards will help me remember to pull the trigger on skeet when they are a little further out, instead of waiting for the bird (clay) to get close, thinking it will be easier.