5 Ways to Evaluate your Turkey Pattern

It takes a solid hit to the nervous system to put down a turkey on the spot. That means that one, or hopefully many more, pellets has to hit the brain and/or spinal column with enough energy to destroy it.

Many hunters forget to pattern their shotguns, decreasing their chances of dropping a bird. Turkey hunters should spend time on the range shooting at turkey targets and evaluating the patterns to find a turkey load that consistently places several pellets in the nervous system of a turkey.

Every time you change your choke tube, shotshell brand, go from led shot to extra dense, or change pellet size or sighting system, the pattern will most certainly change.

Here are some tips to help evaluate your turkey pattern.

SHOOT FROM A SOLID REST

  • eliminate human error during your patterning session by using a solid rest
  • use a permanent in-ground shooting bench, otherwise resort to a portable bench
  • equip the bench with a recoil-absorbing, fully adjustable gun rest

USE THE RIGHT TARGETS

  • start using a large target with a 30-inch outer ring to check the pattern’s center (try Red Star Shotgun Special target)
  • switch to using a smaller head and neck gobbler target that shows the spine and brain after the pattern is centered to the shotgun’s point of aim (try PreGame Gobbler target by Birchwood Casey)
  • shoot several times to confirm your pattern

CHECK YOUR PATTERN FROM THE DISTANCES YOU WILL HUNT

  • use those targets to shoot at 20, 30 and 40 yards
  • study each target carefully
  • watch for point of impact changes, holes developing in the pattern and the pattern suddenly falling apart

MAKE SIGHT CORRECTIONS

  • adjust your sights if the center of the pattern’s mass is off
  • consider adding a shotgun scope or other optical sight to adjust the centering of the pattern’s mass

FIX THOSE HOLES

  • try a different choke tube, shotshell or shot size if holes are appearing in your pattern
  • use patience to solve the problem, trial and error is the best option
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