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Patterning can be done with commercial or homemade targets. All that is required is a sheet of paper with a 30-inch circle containing a bull's-eye.

Pattern density
  • Fire from a distance of 40 yards, which is close to the maximum range for shooting game birds. At that range, the pellets should be spread fairly evenly inside the 30-inch circle.
  • The pattern of pellets should be of sufficient density to ensure a clean kill.
  • The circle also should contain the correct amount of pellets, which ranges from 40 to 80 percent of the total number of pellets in the load, based on the choke you're using.
    • For instance, using a full choke, 12-gauge, 3-inch load, you should expect 70 to 80 percent of the pellets to land in the circle. A modified choke should deliver 60 to 70 percent in the circle, and an improved cylinder should deliver 40 to 50 percent.
    • To determine the percentage, count the number of pellet holes in the circle, and then divide that number by the number of pellets in the load.