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What Distance Should Be Used to Pattern a Shotgun You Need To Know ?

What distance should be used to pattern a shotgun? This is one of the trickiest questions in the realm of bird hunting. As early as now, we will be blunt to you about one thing: there is no exact answer to this mind-boggling query.

What Distance Should Be Used to Pattern a Shotgun

What Distance Should Be Used to Pattern a Shotgun?

The right distance for patterning a shotgun is entirely subjective. Every hunter has different answers for this question. However, many would tell you that it should be done at a minimum of 35 yards and a maximum of 40 yards.

These set of distances will allow you to gauge the overall performance of your shotgun. Moreover, make sure that you use a variety of ammunitions to see which one can give you the tightest pattern. Of course, it also ideal to utilize different shot sizes.

For some other hunters, the pattern should start at 30 yards and end at 40 yards. Accordingly, this is the safest shot distance that the pellets can travel.

If you are using your shotgun as a means of property defense, then the pattern distance is different. Specifically, you have to gauge the maximum distance of your area to your home. Once you can get the figures, apply them to the pattern range.

Why Do You Need to Pattern Your Shotgun

Before you concern yourself with the distance, you should know how to pattern your gun correctly. You should do this process before your hunting games begin.

Do not be like those novices who would skip this crucial preparatory step. They think that the hail of pellets is enough to guarantee a kill. This is the reason why many seasoned marksmen always see shotgun patterning as a decisive factor for a successful hunt.

If you will not pattern your shotgun, then it is like having a rifle without a sight! Always keep this as a sort of motivation at times you feel like you are lazy!

Pattern shotgun

How to Pattern Your Shotgun

Getting The Right Ammo

The most important part of patterning your gun is to know which ammo will work best. As a recommendation, you should use different types of ammo throughout the entire process.

There are a lot of hunting forums on the internet today which can give you an idea about this. Specifically, you have to determine the right choke and shell combination that can suit with your firearm.

If your shotgun has a default factory tube, then you can consult its manufacturer. There is a good chance that they know the “secret recipe” for the best ammo for your gun.

Recently, many of these manufacturers are already posting the recommended shell and shot sizes for their products. This is a good place for you to start. Of course, getting a myriad of ammunitions is quite expensive. As a solution, you can split the cost between your friends or groups. In this way, your pocket won’t get damaged!


Once you are comfortable with your ammo, it is time to set the pattern. You have to start close to get the best output. You should know that most of the shotguns today do not shoot in a straight pattern. That’s why if you have good ammo and tight loads, you need to start dead on.

Start by grabbing low brass pheasant loads. This type of shell is are comfortable to use. They do not produce strong recoils compared to magnum loads. The sighting should begin at 10 yards. This is a very close distance. Therefore, you should expect a single huge hole in your target.

Doing this process will let you see where is your gun shooting. As a result, you would be able to control your point-of-impact to complement the point-of-aim of the gun. Ideally, you may need the help of specialty scopes and after market sights in adjusting shotguns that do not shoot straight.

If you have a standard shotgun bead, always make sure that you are wearing the right gears. A minimal mistake in how your handle your shotgun can shift the aim of traditional shotgun beads.



Hunting requires patterning. This process allows your shotgun to become as reliable as possible. Moreover, it also helps the consistency of your shots, depending on your kill range.

When you are patterning your gun, make sure that you have a lot of targets. Specifically, you need to dedicate one target for each ammo, distance and shot size.

You can start at the distance of 30 to 35 yards. However, if you are still practicing, a 20 to 25-yard is already acceptable. Next, you need to fire the shells while you are in a steady rest. Take note that each shell should have one clear shot target.

Once the firing is complete, mark the targets with all the necessary details.

You need to repeat this process, but this time, at farther distances. Move 5 yards backward and then move another 5 yards more. Do this process until such time you are satisfied. Ideally, the maximum pattern range is within 40 to 45 yards.

Analyzing The Pattern


After patterning, you need to cross-examine each target. You have to remove those that do not make it to your standards.

Moreover, you should also need to check any voids in your pattern. For example, a turkey head has the same size of your fist. You need to consider this information and countercheck it with the voids in your pattern. If you don’t do this, then there is a good chance that you will miss your target in the actual hunt.

Those decent targets will require you to make a pellet counting. You can do this by drawing a 10-inch circle on the bull’s eye. Next, count all the bullet holes present there. You should be happy if you could see a lot of pellets!

Once you are done counting, you should be able to get the right load that will suit your hunting.


The right distance to pattern a shotgun is essential in the overall patterning process. It can tell you which choke and shell combination will suit your firearms. It will also remove the possible voids and inconsistencies that can ruin the reliability of your gun.

We advise that you should not rush this process. Patterning needs to be as accurate as possible. If you can complete it successfully, then you can get the most repeatable and consistent shooting pattern at any ranges.

Jim Johnson

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