About the Study Guide

You are looking at a preview of what’s in the Hunter Ed Missouri Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Hunter Education Certificate.

Learn More Register for the Course

When a shotshell is fired from a shotgun, the pellets leave the barrel and begin to spread or scatter. The farther the pellets travel, the greater the spread of the group of pellets (shot) both in length and diameter. This spread is called the shot string.

Shot strings
The illustrations of shot strings represent the full load of pellets at a particular instant in time after a shotshell is fired.

Effect of Shot Deformation and Air Resistance on the Shot String

When a shotshell is fired, the pellets at the front of the group are more deformed and more affected by air resistance (drag). These pellets:

  • Tend to slow down and spread out from the rest of the pellets.
  • Eventually move towards the back of the shot string and determine the length and diameter of the shot string as shown on the next page.
  • May not have enough speed to result in a clean kill if they hit the target.

The pellets that are in the middle or back of the group as they leave the barrel are less deformed and encounter less air resistance. These pellets are more likely to maintain their speed and to result in a clean kill when they hit the target.