Patterning can be done with simple, homemade targets—sheets of blank paper about 4 x 4 feet in size. A commercial target with a bull’s-eye also can be used, but the bull’s-eye is used only to aim at—it is not used in steps 2–4 below. To pattern your shotgun, follow these steps:
- Fire one shot at the center of the target (or bull’s-eye) from the distance that you expect to be from your quarry (for example, 35 yards if hunting game birds). Repeat this two more times, each time with a new sheet of target paper.
- On each of the three targets, draw a 30-inch circle around the densest part of the shot pattern. (This is not necessarily the center of the paper.)
- On each of the three targets, count the number of pellet holes that fall within the 30-inch circle, marking them with the marker as you count each one.
- Calculate the percentage of the load that is expected to land in a 30-inch circle at the distance that you expect to be from your quarry.
- Average the pellet counts within the 30-inch circles (add the three counts from the previous step, and divide the sum by three).
- Then divide the average pellet count by the number of pellets in the load for the ammunition you are using, and multiply this result by 100.