Colonel Smoothbore’s Final Thought on Shotgun Patterns
By Kelsey

Posted: December 16, 2012

Now that we have all these pieces of paper with hundreds of holes in them, what do they tell us? Here are some final thoughts on shotgun patterning.


First, as long as your eye is aligned with the bead(s) and directly down the barrel rib, your patterns at 30 and 40 yards should be split 50/50 left and right. If the pattern center is off an inch or two, don’t be too concerned. If the pattern is off center by several inches or more, you’ve probably got an alignment problem. I suggest mounting your gun in front of a mirror and check to be sure your eye’s pupil is directly in line with the bead(s) and the rib. If not, adjust your mount to achieve this alignment. Your eyes should be as level as possible, not tilted in any direction.  If you cannot get your gun aligned properly, consult an experienced shooting coach or instructor. They can probably correct your mount if your gun fits you fairly well. If your gun fits you poorly, they can recommend a stock fitter that hopefully can adjust your stock to get you a good gun fit.


Now let’s compare the point of alignment (POA) with the point of impact (POI). If you are shooting a field shotgun, I’ll wait till later to discuss target shotgun patterns; you should have a 50/50 or 60/40 shot distribution. By that, I mean that at the POI, 50 or 60 % of the shot should hit above the POA. If your pattern is say 40/60 or even 30/70, where the POI is below the POA, simply raising the comb of your stock should raise the POI. If your gun has an adjustable comb, raise it. If your gun has a fixed comb, there are devises you can attach to it. Redi-comb has different thickness layers of padding that fit in a sleeve that wraps around the stock. Another really simple way to raise a comb is to add layers of moleskin to the stock until the desired fit is achieved. Both methods can be altered or easily removed if necessary.


Patterning your shotgun will tell you where your POI is in relation to your POA. Having a gun that “shoots where you are looking” will make you a more efficient and effective shotgunner. If you have any questions about this topic or other firearms subjects, just send them to


Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore


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