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I am confused about the proper way to pattern

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by straightshooter1, Apr 1, 2013.

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  1. straightshooter1

    straightshooter1 Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    As the title says, I am confused. I came late in life to shotguns, but shot competitive rifle and pistol for most of my life. I have a new-to-me MX-15 that has been fitted to me by Keith Heeg and I have spent many hours trying to shoot it as well as my old MX-6 both in practice, in competition and with Keith. Finally, I am there or almost there. But, I want to see how my chokes pattern for handicap.

    I am a 26 yard shooter, and fear I may pass before I finally make the 27. I made the 26 with my old gun in late November with a 98. If it is anything but my lack of skill keeping me on the 26, like my chokes, I want to find out.

    I always use a rest to check the height at 13 yards since that seems to be Neil's way. I think a rest would also be the way to check the patterns at longer distance.

    But, I want to know how it is doing at handicap distances, if I can tell. I USED to take butcher paper, make a 30" circle and shoot one at each piece, then 5 at each piece, look to see if there were holes in the paper near the edge of the circle and if there were open areas (holes) in the pattern and if one choke or one load seemed denser in the center than others.

    As I read Neil's thread on chokes, I realize maybe that's not the right way to do it.

    So, specifically:

    What distance should I pattern the gun? I can't tell you how far I was from the board when I patterned before since there is just a "place" where everyone seems to stand to shoot patterns at the Dollar and I shot from there. I shot both from the shoulder and from a rest.

    Do I fire one or more shots at each piece of paper? If more, 5 or 3 or ....

    Do I count the holes from one piece of paper with Choke A to compare it to Choke B?

    What else should I do with respect to my methodology-like draw more circles inside the 30" one or....?

    Thanks,

    Bob
     
  2. Scott Johnson

    Scott Johnson Well-Known Member

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    The winston Patterening Process si what you need, Neil has a great system that makes this very simple. It all happens at 13 yds. PM Neil Winston and he will point you in the right direction. Scott
     
  3. Avaldes

    Avaldes Well-Known Member

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    Neil has a link on his website that describes his method of patterning. The short message is that you want to take a digital picture of your pattern paper (the biggest you can find) and use Shotgun Insight to evaluate the pattern. It is very easy but there are some "gotchas" like you want to count the numer of pellets in your shells so that you have a real number to compare for pattern efficiency. The easy way to do this is to pour your shot onto a towel and use Shotgun Insight to count them.
     
  4. waverider

    waverider Well-Known Member

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    The 13 yard shooting is to check/compare Point of Impact.

    To check patterns you shoot at the approximate distance you will be breaking targets. Roughly 50 yards plus or minus how fast you shoot. Good idea about using Shotgun Insight if you want good insight (pun intended). Me, I would just shoot 2 or 3 patterns and look at the gaps between holes. Actually, I find it more fun to shoot with the trap locked for straight aways, then hard lefts and rights, then watching the breaks.

    If you want a very good estimate of your distance have some one stand off to the side of the trap and visually mark were you are breaking targets then go and measure the distance from the trap. Then add 27 yards to that.

    Jason
     
  5. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    If you want to get to the 27, use your old gun. HMB
     
  6. straightshooter1

    straightshooter1 Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    First of all, thank you for your replies. I did not know Neil had that info on the 'net and I am digesting (or trying to digest it). I already do the 13 yard POI as illustrated since I had read his posts in the past and thought it made sense.

    hmb-if I had a nickel for everyone that has told me to stick that new gun in the safe and use the old one, I'd have a buck or two. But, I am stubborn and have always found that if one sticks with it (and doesn't run out of money first) it will eventually come around. This one is real, real close. And, as a matter of fact, the old one is on vacation in New York with Dan of Giacomo's for a refinishing. The nickel was peeling, the blueing looked as if the gun had been drug across the trapfields three or four times and it was begging me for some relief.

    I had two problems, coming out of the gun and canting it. Coming out was solved by holding it tighter than the old gun and making sure I was ready, really ready, before calling "Pull." The canting seems to have resolved itself with the tighter hold and, on singles, I think I shoot it as well as the old one. Inconsistency in handicap is now what I seem to be dealing with. Of course, I could be inconsistent with the old one, too.

    Thanks again.

    Bob
     
  7. BAD 303

    BAD 303 Active Member

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    Bob just curious if your "new" gun has a palm swell?
     
  8. straightshooter1

    straightshooter1 Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    Uhh, well, uh, no.

    It's a PFS. I took the beautiful stock off, carefully placed it in a closet and bolted the PFS on.

    I actually, between my wife's and my guns, have five of the things. They are great. I tightened this one up with my "new" tight hold so there's no, or almost no, movement, yet I can shoot 1250s and not feel it.

    Bob
     
  9. ebsurveyor

    ebsurveyor Member

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    This will work. Set the gun to shoot the exact heigth your old gun shot. It's easy to change guns if they shoot the same POI. Put in the tightest choke you have. You need to be able to smoke the targets from the 27. Now go shot. Shot all practice from the 27. It's a waste of time to pattern for anything except heigth.
     
  10. BAD 303

    BAD 303 Active Member

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    I asked because palm swells can and often do cause canting. Just curious.
     
  11. MikeInNPR

    MikeInNPR Member

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    Bob,
    Some people just never shoot the unsingle as well as a top single. From what I remember you had an add on rib mounted to the old top single gun. How does the rib height of the MX 15 compare to the old gun? Were you able to hold your head in a more vertical position hence picking up the target better?

    As far as patterning to shoot handicap, do you know what if anything has been done to the barrel? Do you have a bore gauge? If not let me know and either my dad or I will bring one up to the club and see whats going on withthe barrel.

    Mike.
     
  12. straightshooter1

    straightshooter1 Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    Thanks, Mike.

    Nothing done to barrel, and I had Mike Battista gauge the bore/choke.

    Yes, the MX-6 had work done by Wilkinson, and has his rib on it. The MX-15 is higher.

    I can hold my head more upright with either gun, maybe a bit more with the new one.

    I am shooting it better, shot a 24 on handicaps today, been getting most of the 16s. I notice that I must hold this gun much tighter to hit than the old one.

    Sometimes I forget. I'll "try" to remember for every shot tomorrow. Maybe you can stand behind me and slap me on the head when I forget.

    I'll see you this weekend, I suppose?

    Bob
     
  13. Barry C. Roach

    Barry C. Roach Well-Known Member

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    Patterning, against a flat surface doesn't tell you very much. After you've gotten all you can glean from this weak tool ... you do the real patterning on the line. Don't get caught up in trying to set your gun up using the very limited information you get from a patterning board.

    About all a patterning board can tell you is if your gun is shooting to the right or left of center and a percentage of the total pattern above and/or below a spot on a stationary, flat surface.

    The rest of the tuning is done on the line, shooting MOVING targets and you'll have to account for all the disciplines and both yardages.
     
  14. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Well, Barry, you have left out quite a few things that patterning can do, it seems to me.

    Let's start by agreeing on a few definitions. Let's reserve "POI testing" for determining where a gun is putting the shot without regard to how it is spread out and "patterning" for how the shot is distributed without regard to where it is.

    There is an overlap in the 13-yard case, (link above) where you will see at the end a way to get a lot of information about the spread of your pattern in general from 13-yard tests which works as long as you do it right: measure the distance, use premium factory light 7 1/2's, take a lot of shots.

    That system works better than most "patterning" as undertaken by lazy or misled shotgunners and you are right in discounting 99% of what you hear or read as the "results" of patterning.

    But real patterning: five or far better ten patterns, measured distance, counted pellets, can do lot that that other lazy system, shooting targets, can only give you with a lot more expense of time and money if it does it at all.

    Most of the time you do not need to pattern anything. For singles 'most anything will be good enough, and for long-yardage handicap you can often just trust the maker or choke-tube supplier to have dealt with you fairly and honestly.

    But there can be problems which only patterning will make you aware of and recognizing the problem can save you lots of wasted money and years of feeling that you are beating your head against the wall.

    For example, three years ago at the Grand I bought a new gun from a respected maker without first checking the bore, a mistake I'll not make again. When I got it home I found it had a lot less choke than I expected from the "full" designation it came with and ratty machining to boot. "Patterning" (real patterning, that it) showed what I feared - it did not shoot nearly as well, for example, as a Carlson Modified choke in my test Vandalia Commemorative 391, though the latter cost about 1/5 as much. Tom Wilkinson rescued the gun with choke tubes, but if I had not seriously patterned it I might still be shooting it, asking it to do a job it was incapable of doing.

    There are choke tubes with similar problems, in particular one near-adulated brand.. If you took the advice of its maker you would be mostly out of the running unless you checked what was going on with patterning. A few other choke tubes aren't what they promise to be either, but to less harmful effect, it seems to me.

    It's too much work, of course, but once you've got ten or twenty grand or more invested, (to say nothing of the time, be it just weekends or weeks at State Shoots and maybe the Grand,) in shooting well I think the time spent finding out whether you are starting out with an insurmountable handicap or not ought to be worth it but I know that for almost everyone it isn't. I'm a realist. I know no one does it.

    But why aren't they even interested? In 30 years of haunting the pattern board at Metro I've only seen two serious examples of patterning other than my own. And yet as I drift among the tables on league night I hear patterns discussed all the time. Why are they satisfied with just making stuff up? Why do they politely listen to others whey have every evidence are just making stuff up too? At league, 16 yards, it doesn't make any difference I agree, but isn't just knowing something any reward at all?

    Neil
     
  15. b12

    b12 Well-Known Member

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    Two things I have hear from people at shoots around the country(1) You must either learn to shoot where the gun is pointing or (2) you must make the gun shoot where you are pointing. Seems to me all else are misses. Bill
     
  16. 870

    870 Well-Known Member

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    Just so you know there are other alternatives out there, another prolific poster here uses this method:

    Get a big piece of cardboard etc. set up at say 40 yards. Shoot at a point to ensure the center of your pattern is about 16 inches above the bottom of the cardboard. Now draw your 30 inch circle around the estimated pattern center, noticing how close to the bottom of the sheet you are. The rest is simple.

    Go online or look in some old magazines and see how many #8 shot or whatever you are using are supposed to be applicable to your shell. Next, count the number of pellet holes OUTSIDE your 30 inch circle and subtract that number from the total number of pellets that were supposed to be in that shell per your chart. Take the remainder and divide by the total number per the chart and you get your tremendous pattern percentage.
     
  17. 870

    870 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, even more severe flaws than that, but it's not my method. EDIT: This is one of those "you had to be there..." things.
     
  18. Barry C. Roach

    Barry C. Roach Well-Known Member

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    Well, Neil, d:eek:), I'll stand by my statements ... and clarify by saying that those few pieces of information that I think that are important to glean out of using a pattern board are all you need for clay target shooting.

    I consider it just a vague place to start before going to post 3, setting the trap to throw straight-a-ways, deciding your choice for a sight picture and throwing enough targets ... adjusting your comb and or rib until you are hammering targets as hard as your gun will hammer them ... Then do it all over again at your handicap yardage.

    I'll bet my method (it's really not MY method) will bring a shooter to his/her optimum far faster and with far more confidence. I'll bet I could even help Neil.
     
  19. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    I too think that the pieces you are able to glean from a pattern board are all you need for clay target shooting.

    Add some real-world shooting with a locked trap and you are home free unless your gun is defective - and there are lots of them, even factory-new, even big-name - or you have done some dumb stuff like buying a fly-by-night choketube or taking equipment advice from posters on the internet without checking their ATA averages. If you have problems like that you will never solve them by just shooting but if you have endless time and money and don't care if you get better then who am I to complain?

    So I guess it's settled. Thanks, Barry.

    Neil
     
  20. Jawhawker

    Jawhawker TS Member

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    Barry, but why wouldn't you do both Neil's way and yours? I mean really, for the money this game costs why wouldn't you do all you could to improve?
     
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