Turkey Shoots & Shotgun Patterns

ALWAYS keep guns pointed in a safe direction at all times, wear ear protection, safety glasses and never leave a live round in the gun.

If you have any questions or would like to add follow this link turkey shoot information or call 804.241.1446 Read The Pro's Advice, View the Shotgun Shells or See Spent Shot Wads and Cups to learn more about turkey shooting and competitive patterns.

Patterning your gun will keep the shot groupings more consistent for turkey shoots. The sample targets shown are at 50 feet with a 36" barrel and Federal top gun 9's. They give the best example of how to get your patterns on target, why the pattern moves and the best way to control it.

Gun pattern on target in 3 shots

The most basic of shooting skills is also one of the easiest, once you know how. Some of my buddies use paper plates and a magic marker or ball point pen dot for practice and patterning their guns. Contact us about placing an order for our 6"x6" turkey shoot targets for your Turkey Shoot or practicing.

How to move the sites and adjust the shot pattern of your shotgun:

  1. Windage is the distance right or left of the point of impact in relation to the intended target. If your shot pattern is hitting the left side of the bull’s eye and your shotgun is equipped with an adjustable rear sight, move it opposite to the direction of the point of impact. Adjust the sight by using an adjustment tool if you have one handy. You can also make a scribe mark with a knife onto the rear sight ramp, if not marked, to give a better record of the adjustments as you make them.
  2. Adjust the sight's elevation in relationship to the point of impact. The elevation refers to the space below or above the bull’s eye on the target. Move the rear sight lower if the point of impact was higher on the target. Move the rear sight higher if the point of impact was low on the target. You can scribe a mark here when you fine tune to record the pattern movement. Remember go slowly.
  3. Once you've shot a reasonably tight group of shots five or six times, re-adjust your sight if need be to get the best groupings for the shot pattern of your gun.
  4. If you're using a scope, adjust the crosshairs in the direction indicated on the scope. If you're shooting low and left, turn the screws "up" and "right" the respective number of clicks. With a scope, the per-click graduation will usually be marked, i.e. 1/4" per click at 100 yards. Remember this will make it 1/8" at 50 yards, etc. Estimate the distance you're off and adjust accordingly.
  5. Shoot another group of two or three like these targets. You can see how some of the shells open up but they are still on the card.

    How the pattern can move while you are fine tuning your gun
  6. Re-adjust your sights depending on where you shot the groups in step 1 and 2.
  7. Repeat steps 1, 2, 3, until you're on target. The point of impact will sometimes be noticeably different between 50 and 60 feet. Also the weather and shell brand can make your gun‘s pattern change. DO NOT make big changes after you are on target because another day or another shell and it could still be on target and make you a WINNER.
  8. Try shooting the yardage, shell and target that will be used at your turkey shoot match. Affix the target to large paper or cardboard for larger shot size and distance to better see the pattern if need be. If you shoot at a night shoot you might see a big change as you line up the big three, rear sight, front sight and target. So try to be as close as you can to your shoots set up and the time of day it happens. The explosion of the burning powder creates moisture which lubricates the inside of the barrel. Use cotton swabs or a piece of an old t shirt on a string with a lead fishing weight and pull it through the barrel.
  9. Tips:
    1. Some fixed sights can be adjusted. If the rear sight is in a dovetail notch, you can drift it to correct for windage error. Do not hit it with a hammer! Use a brass drift and hammer or an adjusting tool, or if in doubt, have it done for you by a gunsmith. You can take a lot of work and go back to zero quick, so go at it slow and easy.
    2. Mounting the rifle sight’s or scope to the gun is not child’s play. You need to get your whole system together, check the trueness with a straight edge and shoot it a couple of times to see how far off the pattern is. If everything looks good on paper and adjustable within reason you can mount the sights. You need to level the gun with the barrel on into a vise, choke tubes, drop in’s tight, scribed and tested. If all looks good, hold emery cloth over the barrel, grit side up and properly fit the front sight to the barrel’s shape, level the front sight and mark the mount in place. Be careful when drilling and taping for the screws. If you have a screw in system don’t mess up and drill into those threads. Check and see if the screws need to be filed down inside the barrel. I always use lock tight to secure the screws that hold the sights or scope mount onto the gun. Do the same for the rear sight. You need to do your best to line the rear sight up true to the gun and front sight.
    3. Scopes are mounted to the gun’s receiver in the same manner as the rifle sights, only with the scope adapter mounted first. You need a top quality scope. The Tasco 6x24, 6x40 power are a good choice and cost around $130. The recoil kick, constantly moving the gun, all can mess with the mount and the scopes overall performance. Therefore you need to be absolutely sure the mount is level, glued and screwed to the receiver properly. Place the scope onto the receiver scope mount, go to work zeroing in the scope and get your gun’s pattern on the bulls eye.
    4. Knowing how to adjust the sights on your shotgun is important. Accuracy is paramount to shotgun firing. Fixed front sights and adjustable rear sights can be found on most shotguns and the scopes are making their in road into the sport as well. Us old folks can’t see as good as we use to, day or night. At some Shoot Houses it’s stock guns only, with a choke check and you have to use the front bead sight to line up with the target. This is what the Black X Target was designed for, open sight shoots.
    5. Targets – get the distance right for the shooting match you will attend. Check the choke restrictions and barrel length. Remember, you can now get screw in choke tube extensions to make the barrel length ready for your shoots maximum.

      Note: that a shoot house’s restrictions, shoot dates and rules can change. Stay on top by checking the shoot houses that use the free listings to post their yearly schedule, updates or special shoot dates on this website.
  10. Your targets should look like these to be consistent. Every now and then you are going to get a bad shell or just not cut the bulls eye. You think! Is it me, the shell, or is it the gun? Well which is it! Maybe it’s just bad luck. Consistence still wins. Stay on center and don’t chase that pattern. Even a blind hog can find an acorn every now and then.
Bulls eye shot center gun patterns changing

Be a WINNER Get Ready for the Turkey Shoots.