Have you developed a new hobby yet? If not, then you should try shooting. This hobby is a good stress-reliever. First, however, there are a lot of things that you should know and understand about handling a shotgun. 

So, whether you are using your shotgun for clays or birds, it is never good enough if you have not checked it at all. This can be the most common mistake that shotgun owners have. It is best to have your shotgun checked to understand if it is still doing well and if the spread is still adequate. 

What is a Shotgun Pattern?

A shotgun pattern means that there is a regular and even pattern every time your weapon shoots. However, it is not correctly patterned when the ammo ends up in different places. What could be disappointing is when your target escapes due to this.

How to Pattern Your Shotgun in Seven Steps

Patterning your shotgun does not need to be complicated. You do not need to be in a commercial target range because you can use targets found at home.

Step 1 → Prepare the necessary materials

In testing shotgun patterns, you need to prepare the things that are required. You will need your shotgun, your ammo, and a few pieces of paper that are 4-feet wide.

Step 2 → Check Your Shotgun

For your safety, make sure that your shotgun is unloaded and cleaned. In addition, inspect that the bores and choke tubes are secured. 

Step 3 → Mount the Pattern Sheet

Mark the paper with a target like a solid black circle. You can place the pattern sheet on a frame. Your distance should be measured. For shotguns, stay 40 yards away from the marker.

Step 4 → Fire at the bull’s eye

The bull’s eye or the center of the target is your aim. You need to fire your shotgun towards the distance that you expect your target to be. Repeat the procedure twice, but you have to change the target sheet every time.

Step 5 → Draw a 30-inch Circle

It is highly recommended to have three targets and then draw a 30-inch circle around the most concentrated part of the paper pattern. Take note that this could not be the center of the paper always. The 30-inch circle will be the basis of the next step.

Step 6 → Count the number of pellets.

Now, it is time to count the number of pellets or shots that are inside the circle. 

Step 7 → Calculate the percentage load

For the last step, you need to calculate the possible number of loads per distance. You can get the average by adding all the counted pellets and dividing the total number by three. Then, you need to separate the pellet count by the number of ammo that you have. Afterward, multiply the result by a hundred.

You can do this process several times and match them with the ammunition that you use. 

Understanding How Patterns Work

After the process is completed, it is now time to understand the whole process. The aim was to understand three things: the percentage of the pellet hits,  the hit distribution pattern, and the pattern of the center point of impact.

Percentage of Pellet Hits

This is otherwise known as the choke performance. The shotgun choke is the muzzle at the end of the shotgun that tightens the pellets. The percentage depends on the kind of shotgun choke and its density.

This is the expected choke performance of a 30-inch circle at 40 yards:

Hit Distribution

This refers to the distribution of the pellets fired. This can be identified as a central thickening, hits in quadrants, and hits in segments.

Center of Point Impact

This was the center of impact when the shotgun was fired. You will determine your hit pattern if it is high, low, left, or right.

Why is it important to pattern your shotgun?

My shotgun is doing fine, and I am having fun. So why bother making the patterns?

The pattern plate gives you the idea of where your shots are concerning your gun barrel. Moreover, it also tests your gun, the cartridge, and the choke. Pattern plates give you an idea of your game, the target, and shot sizes. You should know that a bigger pellet is best for bigger targets and smaller pellets and spread for smaller targets like squirrels.

If you are not happy and satisfied with the spread of your ammo, then load your gun once more and repeat the process.


In conclusion, having a shotgun is a great way to enjoy yourself and be free of stress. Shooting a gun is merely firing it, but it is also essential to understand the different mechanisms, and one of them is the shotgun pattern. Shotgun patterns are crucial to determine your target. You will enjoy this game or sport more if you know your goal and your aim. So, pattern your shotgun well to enjoy shooting at targets. 

🤔 What is a Shotgun Pattern?

A shotgun pattern means that there is a regular and even ...

🔍 How to Pattern Your Shotgun in Seven Steps

In testing shotgun patterns, you need to prepare the things that are required. You will ...