Patterning: What, Why and So On

What is it?

"Patterning" is the art of getting a bunch of  BBs to go where you want them to.  It always involves shooting your shotgun at very large targets.  After each shot you examine the marks on that target to see how well you did.  Almost always there is room for improvement in the pattern.  These improvements can be made by changing the gun, the ammunition, or how you use them together.  A perfect pattern  for Skeet, shot at 22 yards or so, would be miserable for 27 yard handicap trap which must break targets at 45 yards and beyond.  To sum it up, patterning tells you how your gun and ammo perform against your intended targets.

Why do it?

An efficient pattern will break more clay targets, giving the shooter the maximum room for error before the dreaded LOST is called.  When hunting, an efficient pattern will take down more fowl with fewer cripples and less damaged meat.

Patterning may seem to be a lot of work, and using traditional methods, it really is .  However, spending a little time at the patterning board now, will yield years of pleasure by allowing you to bag your limit or win your class over and over again.  To do that consistently, you have to know how your shotgun behaves.  And doing some patterning is the absolute fastest way to find that out.

and So On

There are four paths from here.  The first describes how to go about patterning your gun and loads.  The second identifies characteristics of good patterns.  The third tells how you can identify bad patterns.  And the last path gives hints and tips on how to improve your patterns and your effectiveness in the field.

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Copyright 1993, 2001
 Shotgun Pattern Services
Cupertino, California
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Last Editorial Update August, 2001