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 Post subject: Pattern size for skeet?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:39 pm 
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Location: Northeast Ohio
What is considered the optimal spread in inches for a skeet pattern? I know that the shot cloud is really three dimensional, and the pattern as it prints on paper is only a two dimensional representation, but patterns are used as guidelines. So how wide should the pattern be to be optimal for skeet?

I'm fine tuning a recently aquired 20 ga. model 12 and making it my main skeet gun. Haven't yet gotten to pattern it nor experiment to find the best handload or factory ammo. That project begins soon. I'm curious what my goal should be. I won't get so wound up on choke and shot size etc. to the point of forgetting that it's all about looking at the bird and fundamentals more than anything else. But I do want to have the advantage of knowing I'm shooting the best pattern I can so that I have one less distraction on my mind, and confidence in my load so that I can always concentrate just on the target.

By the way...it's all moot until I pattern test I know, but the gun now is .013 I get good breaks but sometimes smoke on the closer targets. I know .013 is tighter than most dedicated 20 ga. skeet guns and I'm not hesitant to have it opened, but I won't do that until I see what I can cook up first with various factory or hand loads.

I'm not a registered shooter. Just week-end fun and a couple of informal vintage competitions per year and I may shoot league this summer. Basically just interested in what a good standard spread is.

I'll post my pattern results as soon as I'm done. Until now my skeet gun was a 16 ga. model 12 at .009 Without dragging out the sheets to look again, as I recall, it has a useful pattern of about 36 inches at 23 yards with 7/8 oz. of hard 8 1/2 shot.

I'd be quite happy to get the 20 ga. somewhere near that, but I don't know how the smaller bore size may or may not effect my efforts.

What do you knowledgeable skeet folks think?




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 Post subject: re: Pattern size for skeet?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:21 pm 
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You'll probably get several different opionions but I'll share what I look for in a skeet pattern. I like to see a fairly even pattern in a 30 inch circle measured, at 20-25 yards. I'm delighted if there are very few holes in that circle that a little clay critter could sneak through. Start with which ever choke gives you the closest to that pattern and then you can make minor adjustments with wads, powder charges, etc. to fine tune the process. I would start with a Skeet choke as that seems to be the best initial choice for those distances. From there you could move down to Cyl. or up to I/C but that would be unusual.


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 Post subject: re: Pattern size for skeet?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:04 pm 
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Man! I'll tell ya what I'd do!....I'd just find a load I like for either 3/4 or 7/8oz #8 or 8.5 or 9 and not do another thing to it.....you say you're not into being a registered shooter....does that mean you might take this gun to the field sometimes?.......I'd also never even consider putting choke tubes in it....But it's not my gun....I guess I'm pretty old school...low gun...delayed release...field guns...JMHO........Art

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 Post subject: re: Pattern size for skeet?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:37 pm 
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Location: Northeast Ohio
Art...

You hit the nail on the head as far as thinking like me fundamentaly when it comes to my philosophy of the skeet game and how I enjoy my skeet! Perhaps we are brothers separated at birth! I've shot low gun from day one almost forty years ago and with a delay for about the past five years. Always with lighter weight field guns too. That's the way the game was invented and as far as I'm concerned, that's the way it should still be shot.

Reading your post I thought I was listening to myself..but with one small difference in this case. The difference being that if my patterns print out way too tight and impractical for the distance I normally break my targets, (about 25- 27 yards I'm guessing from stations 3,4, and 5), I'd consider having it opened up until it became more optimal. I'm not considering choke tubes. I'm very cognizant that the original factory Winchester .013 choke is good workmanship and only to be changed if there will be a definite advantage gained.

I won't be using it in the field much, at least that's how I feel about it for now. I have a 16 ga. model 12 and other guns for the field which perform well and are less pristene. The new 20 ga. is re-finished nicely, has a rib and looks much better than the others, so I'm going to try to keep it nice and will use it as my go to skeet gun...which I'll be using a whole lot. Being re-finished it doesn't have collector value and my guns are tools to be used..that's for sure. I'm guessing once the "new car feeling" wears off I may use it in the field some, but for now I'm going to try and keep it nice in case I ever find an even better specimen and want to sell it to trade up.

As far as your suggestion about the 3/4 and 7/8 loads, I'm already pretty solidly focused on the 3/4 load of 8 1/2's I'm currently using in it. When I do my part I get great breaks but I just haven't been to the pattern board yet to experiment and get the absolute best advantage I can from the load that my barrel prefers.

The reason for my post was to perhaps gain some knowledge and insight on pattern size from successful skeeters that have already patterned their guns for optimal efficiency tuned to their particular style, as I'm hoping to do. I had two pet loads for my 16 ga. until I patterned them and found that one was signifigantly better (although both were good).

I'm notoriously long-winded enough that's why I didn't mention the other parameters you brought up!

It just may be that I end up leaving it at .013 just as it is but I'll let the pattern tests determine that and I'll report my results here.

Thanks to all for the replies and suggestions.


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 Post subject: re: Pattern size for skeet?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:42 pm 
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For 1 oz 12ga loads I like to see the "effective" part of the pattern (excluding flyers) at about 26-27" at 21 Yds - the distance from any shooting box to the center stake, save station 8.

For 1-1/8 oz about 28" and up to 30" max is optimum (IMO). Equally important is getting the gun to Not shoot below 50/50 (50% of the pattern above the POA and 50% below). I actually prefer it to be above flat - at about 60/40.

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 Post subject: re: Pattern size for skeet?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:09 pm 
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Grouser; I get what your saying about your new gun...it's just that the .013 thousanths is only a little tight....Yeah it isn't what a real skeeter would use but shootin it will sure improve your focus.....
By the time you can go straight with that (or even nearly straight) a couple of times there ain't a bird that'll be safe anywhere............

Okay; Well if I WAS gonna Butcher it up :roll: :D I wouldn't go less than .009 constriction....I'd fear thin patterns from 3/4 oz loads even with skeet sized shot.....
As far as pattern Dia. is concerned, if 30" is the norm for a 12ga skeet at 21yards, and (I've been told 18") is what's acceptable for a .410......I'd guess 25" or 26" ought to be about right for a 20ga....No?......
Most guys (I'm talkin real skeeters) I know tighten up a few thous. when they use the light (moneysaving) payloads 3/4 or 7/8oz in a 12ga.
I'd only note that if you go to hunting sized shot (ever) it'll be pretty thin out there at 25yards...and as they say "cats could fly through".....Good luck to you......Art



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