Shotgun Patterning Considerations – some thoughts, considerations and recommendations for patterning the defensive shotgun.
Shotgun Patterning Considerations
Understanding and knowing the “pattern” your shotgun prints on target is essential to defensive shotgun usage. Various distances, various loads and various guns will all produce different patterns on target. Some loads such as the Federal Premium Flight Control will maintain a very tight pattern out to 10-20 plus yards depending upon the gun and operator. Other common loads may also pattern tightly at common room distances.
This means proper sight alignment and sight picture are necessary requiring a level of precision similar to the pistol or carbine. The shotgun is not just a point and shoot firearm especially if fighting in and around possible family members or innocents. As distance becomes greater the pattern of multiple projectiles fired with every shot including wadding, cup and buffer, will open up, sometimes significantly, depending on the gun and ammunition selection.
While some spread of the load may be desired, too much spread can mean pellets missing the intended target. This spread reduces the devastating “saturation effect” the shotgun provides. Also remember, you are responsible for ALL the projectiles that are fired. I recommended patterning each brand load with each of your defensive shotguns. Don’t trust that one particular load will work the same in each gun.
For most defensive purposes do this at common room distances to include bedrooms, common spaces, garage and hallways. Pace off the longest visible distance in your home and pattern from close range out to that distance. Follow good marksmanship fundamentals aligning the sights perfectly and pressing the trigger smoothly to the rear. Pick a specific aiming point and verify your pattern prints exactly on that point of aim; utilize a different aiming point at each range. Repeat this process at each desired distance marker.
Remember the 3 P’s of Practical Shotgunning: Power, Precision and Penetration. The shotgun set up correctly, with the right load in the hands of a shooter with good fundamentals can be be a surgical tool at room distances and beyond.