How to Pattern Your Turkey Hunting Shotgun

By author of Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

Turkey Gun Patterning Tips from Winchester Ammunition's Steve Meyer

Patterning your turkey hunting shotgun, turkey chokes and various shotshells is essential to success in the field.

Steve Meyer, Winchester Ammunition's supervisor of new shotshell development, has tips on how to pattern your turkey gun in this click-through blog post.


Patterning Tips

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1 | Patterning Tips

"With advances in turkey hunting equipment over the last 20 years – specialized guns, chokes, optics, and ammo – this equipment has provided opportunity on birds a bit beyond 40 yards. But before taking that extended-range shot, each hunter owes it to the turkeys to do homework before the hunt," Steve Meyer said.

His first two tips for patterning sessions?

1. Fire patterns at ranges near and far to assess your gun/choke/ammo combination.

2. Use a bench rest or shooting sticks for initial testing to fairly evaluate the capability of each combination.

Check out the Winchester Pattern Board App as well.

(Steve Hickoff photo)

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Wind Factor

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2 | Wind Factor

"Pay attention to the wind during the evaluation," Meyer said. "A 10-mph crosswind can shift the point of impact 5 inches at 40 yards and 8 to 9 inches at 50 yards."

He also had some advice on windy-day optics. 

"Be careful when adjusting optics on a windy day, as a crosswind from the opposite direction on hunt day would double that error."

This target pattern was made with the new Winchester Long Beard XR 20-gauge load, No. 5s, at 30 steps on a calm afternoon. Further testing showed that 35 yards was a reliable sweet spot, with good results at longer distances.

Again, as Meyer advised in the first part of this post, test patterning your turkey hunting shotgun, with various chokes and loads, is the best way to gain maximum performance.

(Steve Hickoff photo)

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Pellet Concentration

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3 | Pellet Concentration

"Don’t count on a single pellet hit for a clean kill," Meyer said. "The pellet concentration on the target should be enough to consistently get at least four pellets in the skull or neck vertebrae."

This pattern target shows a down-range distance of 45 yards on a breezy day with the new Winchester Long Beard XR 20-gauge load. Now check the difference between 30 (previous frame image), and 45 steps.

Dead turkey in both cases, with varying performance based on the extended range in this frame's image.

(Steve Hickoff photo)

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Sitting Shots

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4 | Sitting Shots

"If your plan does not include using shooting sticks during the hunt, then practice from standing and sitting positions," Meyer said.  

"Try running 100 yards to elevate the heart rate, then load the gun and shoot a target at 40 or 50 yards from standing position. This may change your mind about not wanting to use shooting sticks. 

"Yes, it’s one more thing to bring along with all your other gear, but a steady rest will greatly contribute to a more consistent point of impact at any range, and more one-shot clean kills."

(Steve Hickoff photo)

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5 | Success

"By conducting this homework ahead of hunt day, you will have a good idea on range limitations based on your gun/choke/ammo setup and your shooting ability," Meyer said.

The results? A filled tag.

(Steve Hickoff photo)

Bonus Read: Shot Placement for Turkey Hunting

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