For years I never really understood the importance of patterning a shotgun. I always just figured for close in work I would use 00 Buckshot and if I had to take a longer shot I would use a slug. Well that theory will work for you if your not concerned with unaccountable rounds down range.
Now that I am a professional shooter I look at this theory a lot differently. The truth is every round that comes out of my weapon I am accountable for. I now see every round that goes downrange as a potential liability.
In the case of your typical 00 buckshot round I am accountable for nine .33 caliber rounds going downrange every time a pull the trigger. That means every time I pull the trigger there are nine possible liabilities going downrange that I can’t take back so I better know where they are going. The last thing I want to do is mistakenly shoot an innocent by standard because my shotgun patterns wider than my target at 15 yards.
Patterning is extremely important in the role of a personal defense shotgun. There are many things to take into consideration. We need to look at all of those considerations before we decide on what type of ammo we are going to be sending down hallways and across rooms in our home. We also need to know exactly where innocent by standards are located in and around our homes.
Patterning a shotgun is fairly simple. I typically will fire my shotgun from a bench rest position at a body silhouette target holding at the same aiming point each time. I will engage the target three times. I will then repeat this process at 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards. I keep track of the type of ammo I am using and the shot data in a logbook. It’s important to keep track of the ammo type, manufacturer, and lot number because your patterns will differ when these things change.
By Patterning your shotgun you will now realize the limitations of the weapon and the ammo being utilized. This will greatly enhance your effectiveness with this tool. It will also allow you to make an educated decision to modify your shotgun with chokes, and other aftermarket mods to improve your weapons performance.