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Official Montana Hunting Safety Course Link to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Hello, hunter! Montana's online hunting course has moved. Click here to go to the latest version of the Today's Hunter in Montana course—the official hunting safety course of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The following course material is for reference only. Please go to the new course to complete your Montana certification.

Patterning Your Shotgun

There is only one way to know for sure what shot pattern to expect from a specific shotgun. Create a target from a 30-inch or larger piece of paper. Stand 40 yards away and point and shoot at the center of your target. Repeat this with different shotshell brands and different shot sizes. Use some form of rest, such as sandbags on a table, to hold the shotgun steady. After shooting with different shotshells and different shot sizes, take each target and draw a 30-inch diameter circle so that the center of the circle has the greatest number, or highest density, of hits. This is called “patterning your shotgun.” All shotgun hunters need to pattern their firearms to determine which brands of shells, shot sizes, and loads perform best and at what range. A shotgun may have a good pattern (high density of hits), but shoot off target. If this is the case, you will need to have the stock adjusted by a gunsmith.

Patterning a shotgun
Patterning a shotgun
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Official hunting safety course for Montana hunters last modified: November 16, 2011
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