Patterning your turkey gun before season or when you buy new shells can be a very expensive pain in the… shoulder. With turkey hunting shotgun shells costing upwards of $8 t0 $10 per shell, finding the right turkey loads with the right choke for your gun can cost you a fortune in shotgun shells alone. Add to that the cost of the wide array of extra full turkey chokes on the market, and you may need to take out a second mortgage on your house before you ever find the load and choke that puts 200 pellets in the kill zone at 40 yards.
I want to help you take some of the pain and added expense out of test patterning your turkey hunting shotgun for the tightest pattern. First and foremost, there is no longer a need to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to find the best choke and shell combination. The hard and expensive work has been done for you by the nice people at Nitro Ammunition Company in Missouri. Go to their website and locate your turkey hunting shotgun on their list of guns. After finding your gun, read which choke shoots which shells best out of your gun. This one piece of information is invaluable.
After you discover which choke and shell Nitro recommends, buy the choke, the shells, targets, and a box of bird loads in 2 3/4″ as well. If you already own some dove or quail loads, they will work fine so you don’t need to buy any more. Once you have the list above together, you are ready to go to the range to sight in and pattern your shotgun.
Use the 2 3/4″ bird shot to sight in your shotgun with the new choke. This little tip will save your shoulder and your wallet a good deal of pain compared to shooting your new high dollar 3″ or 3.5″ turkey loads to sight in your shotgun. Once you’ve got the center of your pattern with bird loads in the bullseye of your target your gun is sighted in, and you are ready to pattern your gun. Now, about 80% of the time, the 2 3/4″ bird shot sighting in trick will work perfectly to put the center of your turkey load pattern exactly where you aim. However, there is a chance the center of the pattern of your turkey loads will not be the same as the center of the pattern of your bird loads. So, at this stage you are checking the center of your pattern as well as its tightness.
Shoot at least two of your new high dollar turkey shells through your new choke at a target just to ensure your pattern is centered and consistent. Once you are happy with how your gun shoots your new choke and shells, you are done.
The above process of patterning your turkey gun is the most simple and cheapest way I have found to sight in and pattern your turkey gun. Assuming the center of the pattern of your bird shot is the same as your turkey loads and unless you decide to change shells, chokes, or guns in the offseason, all you need to do before opening day of turkey season is shoot a round or two of bird shot through your gun to make sure it is still sighted in.
If you have any tips on patterning your turkey gun that you would like to share with us, please do so in the comments section below.