Patterning? Once or twice at most with my fixed choke guns and non adjustable stocks. I get a much better idea of what's happening by shooting at targets and making sight picture adjustments by how the target breaks.
Point of impact only, because like snowflakes no two shells are exactly alike ... One pattern might have a hole in it that does not exist in another one or if one does exist, it would be in a different place in the pattern ... Unless each and every shell were completely and exactly alike there is no use to pattern a gun for anything other than POI ... I can look at the hot spot in tha pattern at the same time and go from there ... WPT ... (YAC) ...
I check POI occasionally as necessary. My patterning work is to shoot into the lake at our club, and while it aint as good as counting hundreds of holes in a piece of paper, it can show you hot core shells, and overall pattern size, etc.
Once you get used to it it's a pretty good system.
When our Club switched to steel shot, we recommended it to all our members and to the public. What we found is that the adage of opening up a choke with small steel shot was not working.
In many cases, the smaller size shot and typically slower FPS speeds could take advantage of using tighter chokes. For many of us, we actually use "Full" choke tubes to maximize pattern. And after 1000s of rounds each, no barrel or choke damage to report.
We typically pattern at 35 yards to mimic the distance of a 16 yard bird.
I've always shot my shotguns for POI and look for patterns that don't have gaping holes, rather a grouping of patterns, average wise, without those wide open spaces. Choices of wad and quality of shot along with velocity seems to matter most for my patterning purposes. Shotguns as a whole work very well for its intended purpose, once in a while, along comes one that just won't do the job for you, especially beyond 35 yards. Being the forgiving tool it is, a shotgun allows us to have all kinds of myths and information that may or may not be true. Most trapshooters just sell that sucker if it won't break clays for them. I like to know the whys either way. Hap
I agree with Sherree!! If I`m not smoking targets I`ll usually be able to see what`s happening and move the comb until the smoke reappears. I have patterned Remchokes, the sight is too frightening to report here.
If I seem to be hitting targets stronger on one side with regularity when everything looks good, I will shoot five shots at a pattern board verify if the problem with the horizontal POI is something with the gun or me. Otherwise, I'm with Eric - targets tell the tale more accurately because they are showing you what happens when you shoot a moving gun at a moving target.
I used to pattern my guns every time I tried something different. After hundreds and hundreds of patterns I can tell you this: It's a total waste of time! Trying to achieve the elusive "magic" pattern will drive the average shooter nuts. You will see more holes, hot cores, weak fringes, low pellet percentages, etc. than you ever wanted to know. Sometimes, after patterning a certain load, I would wonder how the target ever got hit with anything, yet I could shoot the same load on the line and run 100 straight in singles with it. Now, I only pattern for POI after making any adjustments to my gun. I agree with the above statements that the target will tell you everything you need to know about patterns......Just my experience...Dan Thome (Trap2)
I've never shot a gun on paper. I go strictly by the quality of my hits. This is why I shoot nothing but 7 1/2's for all events. I would recommend it though as a initial reference setting up a new gun. Oh, and the scary thing is I know my gun shoots a little to the left! I sure don't want confirmation of that on something I can hold in my hand like pattern paper! LOL...Jerry
I pattern for horizontal POI only. I learned a long time ago that rifle shooting at a pattern board tells you very little about breaking a trap target. Once I have adjusted my comb so that the horizontal POI is correct it is off to the trap for me.
I then lock the trap on straights from station 3 and adjust vertically until there is nothing but smoke. Now I know that if the targets do not smoke I have to make an adjustment on how I am attacking the targets or how I am mounting the gun.