Why Do Hunters Pattern their Shotguns?

Patterning a shotgun maybe a little confusing. You may also wonder what the term means. Shotgun patterning is a way that a hunter can determine how exactly the gun works. It is a standard procedure that most Hunters do with the various shotguns they own.

Most shotgun manufacturers create their models differently. Therefore, patterning an individual model isn’t necessarily the same as the rest of the models. For you to honestly know why it’s essential, you need to know a little about using a shotgun.

First, let’s look at a simple guide to patterning your shotgun. When you think of patterning your shotgun, start with your very own homemade targets before going to the Hunting field. Use thick paper with a patterning board to determine the pattern of shooting.

What does patterning a shotgun mean?

What does patterning a shotgun mean

Patterning a shotgun means being able to make your gun shoot reliably and consistently throughout the entire hunting session. You must know that there is no similar pattern for all Hunters. All patterns depend on how a particular Hunter shoots.

Learning your pattern helps you understand what your shotgun should be shot with. You will also get to be a better and more accurate shooter. Hunters also learn their shotgun point of impact. The point of Impact is that spot your gun is designed and engineered for shooting

Why do Hunters Pattern their Shotguns?

There are many reasons why Hunters do so, and below is a look at some of them.

Humane aspect

One of the most important reasons is the human aspect. Hunting involves taking life. It may be fascinating to bag a trophy, but it is also essential to kill the animal without causing it a painful death. A swift kill is one of the unwritten rules of hunting ethics.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Sharpshooter or not. A shotgun that is not patent can cause a painful death to any animal. It is essential to put in your gun so that you can make a short which will penetrate the animal, causing a painless death.

Improves choke action

Patterning a shotgun helps Hunters understand the most suitable shotgun choke to use. A choke mainly reduces the broad distribution of a shot. Your shot’s power is not affected by this action.

The accuracy of a choke is maximized if your shotgun is patterned. Once you pattern your shotgun, the right choke will also improve the performance of the gun in general.

Makes shotgun selection easy

To get the right shotgun for you, patterning multiple guns can help you decide which is best for a specific hunt. With plenty of shotgun variations, it will not be to look at some on the internet. You need to test it out yourself to get what will work for your desired hunt.

For example, if you are going for a wild Turkey Hunt, you will need a tighter pattern than what you will need for a Duck Hunt. Patterning will help you designate a shotgun for a specific Hunt category.

Helps determine the performance of different ammunition

different ammunition

Many hunters keep switching to varying rounds from time to time during different hunt categories. This can tell the performance of a shotgun. Patterning a shotgun using different ammunition helps to improve the overall performance of the gun.

Helps to understand the dominant eye

We all know that shotguns don’t come with rear sights. Therefore, hunters pattern their guns to determine their dominant eye. For example, if you are a left-handed shooter, the right eye is the dominant eye.

The simplest way to understand this concept is by using any finger of the right-hand to point at any object. You can then keep both eyes open at that point. Close the Left Eye. You will then see a deviation appear.

Helps hunters get more comfortable with their shotguns

Getting pleased with a Shotgun will only come when you use it regularly. Making an effort to pattern your shotgun will give you a better understanding of the gun. For any Hunter knowing your weapon well makes you a better hunter. Getting a suitable pattern for your shotgun will make you more comfortable with it.

Tips on shotgun patterning

  • ​Establish the best shooting rest for the shotgun to get better accuracy in patterning.
  • Always keep a record of the number of pellets in each shot you make.
  • Endeavor to make at least ten shots for a single patterning.
  • Remember that since there are different brands/ models, it will also get variations in quality.
  • Try to use different shotguns while patterning. This will enable you to switch to varying shotguns while hunting.
  • Always pattern your shotgun before any hunt.
  • Remember to adjust the stock when you get a high-density pattern off-target.
  • Check with your gunsmith to help you improve the stock of the gun.

Safety Tips

Remember to stay safe when patterning your shotgun. Inspect the area you will be patterning from and make sure that it’s empty to avoid injuring anyone or anything with stray bullets. Once everything is in check follow these simple steps to pattern your shotgun.

  • Get a target that is about 30 inches square.
  • Once your done, you can now raise that target 40 yards away from your shooting point.
  • To keep the shotgun steady, use sandbags as a rest for the gun to avoid slips and shooting stray bullets.
  • Endeavor to shoot at your target using a specific load each time.
  • You can now draw a 30-inch circle around the shorts from each load. Make sure that the maximum number of hits is in the center of the ring.
  • The difference from the center of the target to the center of the circle is what defines the pattern of your shotgun for the rounds you have used.
  • If you own multiple shotguns, repeat the procedure with different rounds.
  • It’s best to keep a record of your findings for future reference.

How to choose a place to practice shotgun patterning.

There are varying options when it comes to choosing a place to practice shotgun patterning. It is advisable to follow the legal and safety issues before starting your practice. We recommend guidance from an expert to help you with the entire practice.

practice shotgun patterning

Practicing can be done at a local shooting range. There are many benefits that come with practicing from a shooting range. By this we mean that you will not only get great expert advice, but you will also get top range safety equipment needed for shotgun patterning. Shooting ranges always observe local, federal, and state laws that govern them.

Some of the safety equipment is eyesight and hearing protection. Other shooting ranges are open to the public while some are only for private members. You can get to choose one that you are sure will provide you with the best patterning skills.

Facts about shotgun patterning

At this point, you know why hunters pattern their shotguns. Do you know the facts about the matter? Well, let’s find out below.

  • No matter the gun, they all have varied patterns.
  • As you have seen, their plenty of reasons why a shotgun needs to be patterned.
  • Patterning your shotgun gives you the best control on any gun you own.
  • With a patterned shotgun, you can get to use different rounds in more fruitful ways.
  • You must know that shotgun patterning is done on a trial and error basis.
  • You may have to change stock on your gun. A gunsmith is the best person to do so.

More to know about hunting with your shotgun

You don’t just have to get your gun patterned, but you’ll need to follow the rules and guidelines during hunts. This will ensure safety and more fruitful shots. Below are some of the tips you can follow when hunting with your shotgun.

  • Keep the gun pointed either upwards or downwards. Never have it look in a direction where it can end up hurting someone. A Trigger can be pulled accidentally, and it may end up injuring something.
  • Ensure that there isn’t anything or anyone that can get hurt around or behind your target. We suggest you shoot in areas where you can hit the target without the bullet going far missing to destroy something else.
  • Always get rid of unfired shells once you’re done hunting.
  • Make sure to check for barrel abstractions the risk of bursting or causing accidents.
  • Lastly and probably very important, always wear safety protection when hunting. This can help you prevent any injuries to some parts of your body.


If you have never patterned your shotgun, then it’s high time you did. You will see the difference in your shotgun performance, and you’ll be able to shoot better. All your hunting expeditions will be more successful than before.

We have mentioned some of the essential aspects you need to know about shotgun patterning above. With this guide we hope you have got to know why it’s important to pattern a shotgun and why most Hunters do it.

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