Ultimate Guide To – What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun?

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Ever wondered why do you have to pattern a shotgun? The answer to this is simple, because no two shotguns fire the same way.

Guns differ in make, the choke of the shotgun, size of the shot, and of course the brand of the shot shells add to this. In order to excel as a hunter or as a gunman, you need to know your pellet pattern well.

A basic question arises as to what Distance should be used to Pattern a Shotgun? We have tried our level best to answer this query in the simplest of ways for everyone to understand it. Do read this post till the end to solve this mystery.

How Does This Pattern Help?


This is a big question that most beginners ask and believe us when we say that the masters know of it.

Look you buy a shotgun to shoot a hunt, right, that means you want to positively shoot at something. You don’t want your endeavors go to waste, would you? Patterning a shotgun is nothing but ensuring to know where to shoot.

What position is best suited to shoot and what is the engineering that you need to do to achieve this. You design a shoot and then pattern it, makes it sound like an art and to be honest, hunting is no less.

In a way, patterning means you knowing when to shoot your gun. No misses and no guesses; bang and you are the new hunter in the town!

Related: You should use your ar with best scope for ar10, it will help you have the good target.

What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun?

In fact, we would better call this section as “Know your pattern.” This is what we will be explaining to you here in this segment to be precise. What you need is to practice a little before going on a real hunt.

Most novices miss out on this part and then they falter while hunting. We surely do not want you to do the same and instead you will be praised as first timer for sure. Now, all you need is to follow these directions and start practicing on your own.

However, before you start, we will ask you to arrange for:

  • Prepare homemade targets by putting up 4X4 think cardboard into use
  • Get a patterning board that fits this cardboard appropriately
  • Okay, you may use the bull’s eye commercial target practice boards as well for this
  • Make sure that the area you are practicing is no man’s land and a stray bullet would not harm a soul
  • Get a bench to provide complete support to your target practicing

The Patterning

Fine, time to spill the beans, they call 40 yards the “killing distance” and that is how it has been for years. Even if you are about to hunt for pheasants and waterfowl, this remains to be the distance.

Think you know it all? Not yet, now that you have a dedicated practice area, what do you do now? Just don’t start shooting in the air and think you have succeeded. What you do is:

Use the bull’s eye technique

Simply start firing at the center, measure your steps and keep them at a distance of 20 to 25 yards to start. Once you have fired, mark the targets and then move 5 yards back. Make it 30 to 35 yards, shoot and mark the targets. Take notes and then move 5 yards farther, ultimately making it 40 yards. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Circle Around


Once you are done, take notes and in consequence you can draw a 10 inch or may be 30 inch (for good) circle around the densest area of your shooting pattern. If you notice you have hit a lot of pellets in this area, then you must be happy with your progress.


Check for voids or rather misses in your pattern if any as this is something that you may need to work on. Not doing so, may actually make you miss on your hunt in a practical scenario. This means you need to practice a lot as shooting is all about keeping it together.

Finding The Pattern

This is more or less like a physical inspection that will tell you if you are working in the right direction or not. Once you see maximum pellets hitting this 30 inches circle, you must know that time has come to brace yourself as a gunman. Initially you may observe a lot of pellets going astray, but once you start spotting a majority of pellets hitting this circle, you must discern that it is time to go on a hunting expedition. That should be an interesting find and you must be excited to take up this new role.


As a matter of fact, finding a resolve to what Distance should be used to Pattern a Shotgun is no rocket science. You will face inconsistencies all the time, due to external and internal factors. Be prepared for this, which is why people develop their own pattern.

Most people may ask you to stick to a basic of 35 to 40 yards, but if you are beginner; then you must work on it. We urge our readers to follow the fundamentals that we have discussed today for the shotgun pattern.

Hoping we have covered all you wanted to know in this regards, we end this conversation by taking your leave.

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