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Patterning a Trap shotgun

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by ihartm, Jan 6, 2009.

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  1. ihartm

    ihartm TS Member

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    What are the suggested methods for a patterning a Trap shotgun?
    Some suggest use 13 yards, others 25 yards and so on.
    Should the gun be shoulder mounted or bench rested or both?
    Should you check it using different loads?
    Preferred chokes used, any recommendations?
    THank you.
    I. Hartman
     
  2. crusha

    crusha TS Member

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    OMG...


    Rinse...lather...repeat.
     
  3. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    13 yards for determination of the POI. 30-35 yards for analysis of the pattern. Ten shots at 13 yards will clearly show the POI. Ten years of many 35 yard pattern analysis will raise many more questions.

    Pat Ireland
     
  4. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    Test at 13 yards to make sure the gun shoots straight. Then set the gun up so it shoots a little high. You need a built in vertical lead for trap shooting, because you are shooting at a rising target.

    Now it's time to test it on some clay targets and fine tune your adjustments. This is best done on station #3 on the trap field with the machine set to throw straight away targets. HMB
     
  5. Jawhawker

    Jawhawker TS Member

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    For POI,I shoot at 20 yards using upright form and resting gun on ladder for stability.

    For pattern evaluation, 32 yards for singles and 42 for handicap.
     
  6. Tom Strunk

    Tom Strunk Well-Known Member

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    You must learn the difference between "patterning" which is counting pellets in a certain size circle at a given distance ( 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50 ) yards. and POI ( point of impact ) at whatever distance.

    Some here seem to like 13 yards for POI, although I have never understood why. But some type of POI checking is always benifical to be sure the gun's barrel (or barrel's) shoot straight. I would agree more with pheasantmaster. He seems to be on target with his accessments and explanation.

    Tom Strunk
     
  7. country gentleman

    country gentleman Member

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    I pattern several different ways.

    1. 5 shots at 35yds to check POI. From the bench.

    2. 5 shots @ 35 free standing to reveal consistency/flinching. Amazing how loose these shots are compared to the bench. Also amazing how sometimes you can hardly tell the difference. Depends on the shooter.

    3. 1 shot benched to count pellets for pattern density and to check several different types of load/speed combinations.
    Todd
     
  8. djpk69

    djpk69 TS Member

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    You guys have so much patience. But....then again a search only goes back so FAR.Nice responses......no "duh seen that before". Listen and Learn.
     
  9. zzt

    zzt Well-Known Member

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    I.Hartman here is some advice I gave to Bob last year, plus some addition thoughts. I'm going to cover all the basics, step-by-step, assuming you don't really know anything about your gun yet.

    The first thing you have to determine is where your gun shoots. When you are satisfied the gun shoots straight, you'll want to determine where you shoot it.

    Set up on a bench with a target between 13 and 20 yards in front of you. If you have interchangeable choke tubes, you'll first have to determine whether they all shoot to the same place. Pick a barrel and put a choke tube in it. Sight the shotgun just like it was a rifle and fire at your POA. Do this at least 5 times, or enough so that you can say with authority this choke prints 1" high and 1/2" right of POA. Now do the same for every other choke. Make sure to use the same barrel for all of these tests. At the end of your choke testing you will know which chokes shoot to the same POI and which don't. Mark or discard the ones that don't.


    If your new gun is an O/U, put your two tightest good chokes in and repeat the test. That will tell you if both barrels shoot to the same POI. If a combo, all three barrels should shoot to the same POI with the same sight picture and setup.


    Once you know your hardware is good, it's time to see where you shoot your gun. I like to work on one variable at a time. Any distance from the muzzle to target between 13 yards and 20 yards will work. I prefer 15 yards most of the time for reasons I'll not get into here. I use 40" wide paper and draw three vertical lines on it about 12" apart. Then I mount the gun while standing just as I do on the line, and fire while tracking a line. I find I'm much better if the gun is moving, so I just trace the line with my bead and fire whenever. I only care about right and left here. If I'm consistently dead on the line, I'm done. If not, I move the comb right or left until I am.

    Next I repeat the process using horizontal lines. Here I am trying to set my POI to the proper height. I know what my POI needs to be because I have already established it through experience. If you have not, then set you gun up so it shoots about 2" high at 13 or 15 yards, then go and do as hmb suggests. Lock the trap to throw straights and shoot a bunch. If you are smoking birds and you like your sight picture, move to Station 1 or 5 and repeat. If you are not happy, adjust your comb to raise or lower your POI until you are. Then move to 1 and 5 and adjust again if necessary. The idea is to find what Phil Kiner calls your natural POI. I'll also add the following: you are unlikely to get it perfect in one session. You'll be close, but next week you may be just a little off. That's fine. Make a minor adjustment and go with the flow. Sooner or later your subconscious will tell you "this is right".

    Now go back to the target board and do the horizontal line bit again. You are shooting to determine your actual POI for reference. Just for the sake of argument, let's say you find the gun shoots 4" high at 13 yards. Write it down. That way you have a reference you can always return to if you have been experimenting, or you change guns, etc. The core idea here is you made the gun "shoot where you look" by actually firing at real clay targets, and only then determined your actual POI for the record. It is sheer lunacy to arbitrarily say I will set the gun up for x" high or x/y percentage, and then go shoot.

    Now for patterning. Patterning takes a lot of time and effort if you want good, believable results. If you have a "good" barrel, almost anything you feed it will work well. I'm well past thinking another 10 pellets in the inner 20" circle is going to get me another bird. Personally, I'm much more interested in uniformity than I am in actual PE (Pattern Efficiency). If you have a "bad" or finicky barrel or choke, you'll be testing many more loads.

    Here's the deal. Trap is shot with tight chokes. Tight choke forgive a multitude of sins, patternwise. So I'll suggest you take your favorite singles load and shoot it for singles. Now that you have your gun set up properly, you'll know if the load is performing. Do the same with caps. Good loads are the ones that work. You'll quickly find a few that you really like.

    If you are still interested in patterning, or simply want to find out which of three pet loads works best in your gun, go at it. I do all my "official" patterning at a measured 40 yards. I do that because I shoot tight chokes and you simply cannot tell anything of real value at 32 or 34 or 35 yards unless you are shooting a modified or looser choke. I also do all of my "serious" patterning in the winter. There are two reasons for this. First, as Bob Brister notes in his book, patterns from a full choke spread in a trumpet shaped pattern. They start out tight, stay together for quite a while, then suddenly begin to flair out much more quickly, just as a trumpet does near the front. The tighter the choke, the farther away this happens. Second, air is denser in the winter and causes patterns to disburse more quickly. I want to magnify differences, and patterning at 40 yards on a cold winter day is the way to do that.

    Remember, right now I'm comparing two loads that I already know work well. I'm not interested in determining whether I got 68% or 70.4% PE. I'm interested in comparing the performance of two loads, one against the other. The one that gives me the most even patterns wins. I shoot a minimum of ten patterns each, often more, before I form any kind of conclusion. I shoot from a bench, carefully, and use Shotgun Insight to analyze the patterns. It tells me what I need to know.

    BTW, if you find a load that gives you 70% PE @ 40 yards when the temp is 30 degrees, that load will give you 82+% PE in the warm summer months. That's why I pattern in winter. Small differences are easier to pick out.
     
  10. dverna

    dverna Active Member

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    ZZT
    That was very informative.
    Thanks,
    Don
     
  11. Robb

    Robb Member

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    Anybody have plans or better yet pics of what you shoot at? Would like to build something nice and breeze resistent. Rather not go the paint/grease route.
     
  12. omahasportingsupply

    omahasportingsupply TS Member

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    Thanks for explaining it to our new shooters. Many times we forget that we all were at this stage, sometimes many decades ago. IMHO Omaha
     
  13. maclellan1911

    maclellan1911 TS Member

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    Why do some get so pissy when a new person comes along with a new question(new to them). Maybe the moderators could do some sort of fixed posting on such repeated questions! I asked this myself 3 years ago. The info help!!! keep giving it!
     
  14. dzneff

    dzneff Member

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    My method of patterning a trap shotgun:
    1. Adjust the comb so that you see the correct sight picture - figure eight.
    2. Shoot a round of 16 yd targets; targets will be smashed.
    3. If #2 leaves targets not properly reduced to dust, make further comb adjustment after noteing the direction of the chips (move comb in opposite direction of chips).
    4. That is all it takes; I have adjusted several shotguns using this method and have yet to use #3.
     
  15. dzneff

    dzneff Member

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    Correction: 3. Move comb in the direction the chips fly.
     
  16. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    dzneff- Your comments were directed toward setting up a shotgun to shoot where you are looking. This is not patterning. You mentioned "patterning a shotgun" but actually, we pattern a load, not a shotgun.

    A typical patterning question would involve the difference, if any, between a factory AA wad and a Claybuster clone of the wad. To answer such a question, analysis of at least 20 patterns will be required. It is a lot of work.

    I must also question your comment indicating a figure eight is the correct sight picture. It is my contention that sight picture (relation of mid bead to front sight) is not important. What is important is getting the gun to shoot where you are looking.

    Pat Ireland
     
  17. JBrooks

    JBrooks TS Member

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    Patterning and testing loads is an important part of the game to a lot of people and provides them much enjoyment. Others, like me, have only a passing interest in such things. However, it is important to establish where your gun shoots and where you shoot your gun so that you have the confidence of that knowledge when you go to the line.

    Without getting into a discussion of the geometry of POA, POI, sight lines and bore lines, my Reader's Digest version is this:

    1. Trap targets rise and shot strings fall. As such I see no reason to have any pellets below the POI at the target breaking distance.

    2. Most FCs will produce about a 22 -24 inch sure kill pattern at 35-40 yards.

    3. To get this kill pattern above the POI at 40 yards means you have to get the bottom of the pattern about 12 inchs above the POA. Consequently, a POI of about 4 inchs at 13 yards will accomplish this.

    4. Shoot the 13 yard POI shots from some type of rest. It is a shotgun so if a bench rest is not available, so what? Just use something to steady your aim.

    5. Put a big mark on a patterning board/paper at 40 yards. I like to raise the gun up to the mark and fire when I think I have the sight picture I am used to seeing on a straight bird from 3. If the 6 o'clock of my pattern is right above the mark, I'm done.
     
  18. BT-100dc

    BT-100dc Active Member

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    I hate to be different but I relate patterning a trapgun to the kiss of death. It's just me, but after 35 years of shooting BT-99's, BT-100's, & a 90T, if the gun shoots where I look and the target is reduced to a puff of smoke, it's good enough for me. Since a shotgun shoots a pattern of 3 dimensions, I don't believe me pattering my guns would do anything more than make me doubt the load or gun. I see the guys constantly patterning their shotguns, then go back and make a change to the choke and/or stock, and then the next month do it again. This usually is after a few missed targets and after watching them year after year it's comical; they have not figured out that it is the fault of the operator... Their stock comb goes up & down like a bride's nightgown sort of speak. That's just my opinion. Darrell
     
  19. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    Darrell- I disagree with your position, but Frank Little strongly agreed with your thoughts. Who would you want to follow, Frank Little or me?

    Pat Ireland

    PS- I was one of the group who badgered Frank so much he finally did test the POI of the gun he had used to set a long run record with. After he saw where it shot, he could never shoot the gun well again.
     
  20. DTrykow

    DTrykow Active Member

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    I never liked the 13yd pattern distance. Seems too close, it oblitterates the paper, plus the wad hit's it. Is there another distaance, say 20yds that will work? I know the equations will have to change. Thanks, Dave T.
     
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