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How Did We Get Where We Are?

Advice for the Shooter

The 30" circle was the standard for pattern measurement for turkey loads in the 1990s and a couple of decades before as it still is for waterfowl hunters and for most clays and upland shooters.

There were dramatic increases in the effectiveness of turkey loads beginning in the late 1990s, mainly at the encouragement of the NWTF and its showcase, the World Championship Still Target Shoot. The same is true of turkey chokes.

The NWTF idea was to help to eliminate the wounding of turkeys by challenging manufacturers of guns, chokes and shells to produce more effective products.

Another piece of that challenge was to create a more realistic standard of lethality for the small kill zone of the wild turkey. Toward that end, the 10" circle was developed and has since become the standard for most turkey hunters. It has however only been in the last few years, that most gun, choke and shotshell makers have adopted that standard as well.

We've spent a couple of decades now encouraging turkey hunters to pattern their guns, limit shots to 40 yards certainly and really to ethically only shoot as far as personal experience indicates that a particular gun, choke and shotshell, combined with the shooters personal ability are effective. Essentially, we've been encouraging hunters to think of their shotgun more like a rifle with precise shots at the relatively small head/neck area.

It has a lot to do with the thought process that we've tried to encourage. You could compare it to the process that bow hunters use when shooting at a deer. As you know, bow hunters are encouraged to shoot at a hair on the deer, not just the deer. Similarly, we want to encourage turkey hunters to shoot at the vital head/neck area and not just the turkey.

Consequently, I encourage a dense and even pattern within a 10" circle with a halo pattern of about 14", including that 10" core pattern, with an equally dense pattern, few if any 2" gaps within those circles.

Hunters who pattern their guns and understand lethality and spend time reading the work of educators are not  part of the problem. I just would not want to do or say anything that would ever encourage hunters to literally take the "shotgun approach" to patterning or to encourage shots at ranges any longer than 40 yards.

Make sense?

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