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Discussion Starter #1
I took my new trap gun out to the range last night for the first time along with a couple of boxes of Federal low-cost target ammo in #8 1 1/8oz shot. It was 16 yard trap and I shot 16 for my first round and 19 for my second, and because I think I figured out why I missed I expect to be shooting in the 20s consistently within a week. The misses were lead related on the targets that go to the side and elevation related on the ones going away. By the end of the second round I had those variables pretty well figured out. So I think the gun fits fine.

The amazing thing was how those #8s with the relatively tight choke just reduced the clays to little bits. The target would mostly disappear and there would be just some orange crumbs falling to earth. It was really quite spectacular. This is the first time I've ever shot clays at night, so maybe the light and the contrast made it seem cooler looking.
 

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Nice shooting. Did you have the same results with the clays breaking up into little pieces during the day?
 

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I haven't shot that gun during the day. Up to now most of the trap shooting I've done has been during the day with my 20 gauge field gun in preparation for hunting. I've tried a few other guns of 12 gauge during the day but don't really recall seeing tiny bits. I usually just see the big pieces that break apart.

I shot a round last night and I think its the twinkling effect of the orange as it falls that catches my eye more than any bigger pieces that may be moving in a more stable fashion.

Another difference is that I've always used 7 1/2 field loads before. With the 7 1/2s I don't recall having such a high percentage of clays that were reduced to near invisibility as with the 8s. Those field loads were the cheapest of the cheap, and the ones I'm using now are real trap loads, presumably with better patterning.

In any case, shooting at night is a fun thing to do.

Last night's round was 21.

One thing I do prefer is shooting with a squad. The last two rounds I shot were by myself because it was getting late at the range and it's been colder than in previous weeks. I guess it scares people inside. That's OK, but it seems that the proper place of shotgunning is that it be more social. Pistol shooting is more of a solitary enjoyment for me, except for the matches, which are quite sociable.

Another thing I'm glad for is that I got a real trap gun instead of trying to use a field gun. I really like the way those longer barrels swing, and I like the stock geometry and the mass of the gun. It's nice to have good equipment.

I'll pattern test the gun as soon as I get some daylight to work with.
 

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My view of patterning is a minority view but I do ALL of my patterning on the range. I will NOT use a patterning board ever. I did long ago and have decided that only messes with your mind for no good reason and serves no useful purpose.

Evaluate how your targets are breaking and use that in lieu of the pattern board. If you consistently break them high low left or right then most likely the gun is shooting to that direction and not to point of aim. If you consistently are centering them it is definitely hitting where you are aiming. You really must get to where you know where your point of aim was at the time the gun went off so you know if your pointing of the gun was the cause of misses or poor hits or if the gun's POI is the problem. I use the term "point of aim" generically as you don't really aim but rather point a shotgun.

Trap guns are set up to throw the majority of patter above your point of aim so that if you were stationary as on a pattern board and you aim (for real in this case) at a point on the target you should expect approximately 60%-65% of the pattern to hit above and 35% to 40% below that aim point. All trap targets are rising so that build in upward lead is to aid you by allowing you to have the target sit on top of the bead and still break the target.

Lead is something you just have to work out on your own altho there are books and charts and such that give you approximate leads. I say approximate as it really does vary from person to person based on how you swing and how fast and how the lead looks to you as compared to how it looks for another. There is a theoritically correct lead for each but how it appears to a person does vary.

I think #8 shot is the ideal shot size for trap personally just as I do #9 for skeet but from the 16 yard line especially anything from #9 to #7-1/2 works fine. As I think I've mentioned back when we played the money games from 37 yards back (a full ten yards further than registered trap is ever shot at) I still had my best success with #8 shot even tho most went to #7-1/2 for that distance. If you're pointing that gun correctly and centering or nearly centering your targets it puts more shot into them and multiple hits are what smoke the targets or break them into tiny bits rather than large pieces and is more satisfying than just chunks.

Back to the discussion on patterning. When using a pattern board you are aiming not pointing generally speaking at the pattern board. You are shooting at a stationary and not moving target and the length of your shot string isn't seen there but is by the clay target when shooting at it moving. In other words on a stationary target the full shot string hits and the pattern you see is NOT the same as what gets to a moving clay in the real world. You'll hit that clay with either the front, middle or rear of the string ONLY depending on whether you pointed correctly or just almost correctly. So what the pattern looks like on paper has little real world significance to what you'll actually have on the clay when shooting at it flying thru the air. Thus the ONLY patterning I care to do is the actual shooting at a moving clay in the air.

Long ago I patterned my .410 skeet gun and there were holes every where it seemed bit enough for a clay to escape. I lost confidence in my ability to break clays with it at skeet and my scores suffered badly. These days I don't pattern and my .410 scores pretty much are identical to my scores with any other gauge and is the primary gun I use on skeet now. My scores are far far better than back in my competition days when I'm sure I actually was a better shooter than I am now.

In my trap shooting days I also used modified choke from up close at the 16 yard line back to at least the 22 to 24 yard line. I had none back then but I think I'd prefer improved modified over full choke even back to the 27 yard line if I were shooting trap today. The slightly wider pattern allows more breaks on those shots that are good enough but not really perfect. With a full or tighter choke you really must be perfectly on not just close enough to break them. It is satisfying to see them smoke but it's MORE satisfying to see them ALL BREAK rather than having only 22-24 break and a wee bit wider pattern from my experience means more broken clays. That carries over to the skeet range which is all I shoot these days and I like cylinder chokes even better than skeet choke tubes in my guns and with the 12 and 20 when I was still using them even a spreader choke was preferred.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
GB:

That makes a lot of sense. You should write flesh that out a bit and get an article published on it.

My attitude toward patterning is similar to yours. I don't see much point in it, except for the following two things:
1) To compare the pattern quality of one load against another load. If one is markedly better looking, I'll use that all else being equal.
2) Getting a sense of where the pattern hits by using a close-range variant of the "old bet sheet" test. This is done without aiming. It is a test of where the gun hits when I point.
 
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