Testing is a critical process before you want to take your gun out in the field and use it for anything from hunting to sports.

And with shotgun models, testing with a prototype is even more important because the characteristics of shotgun shells are pretty different from those of most other guns.

However, what distance should be used to pattern a shotgun? What factors do you need to keep in mind to do this? All of the above questions will be in my article today.

What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun
What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun

What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun?

It is about 25-40 yards. Depending on what you want to use the pattern to align your shotgun pattern for, we will use different types of distances to get the most suitable calculation.

What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun 1
What distance should be available

We all know that placing 2 similar guns in the same position can show noticeable performance differences, especially with shotguns.

Therefore, distance alignment can also be an effective way to test and compare gun products.

The primary purpose of the prototype was to test the range of bullets and the spread that a shotgun can produce. So the most effective distance to place the sample is also the farthest we can start. Usually, this number will fall to 40 yards from the top of the barrel.

However, as I mentioned above, how far away the test piece should depend on what you are trying to test. If it’s a hunting rifle, 40 yards is a reasonable number.

This distance is far enough that we can handle an animal subject in one shot and avoid the animal being injured and killed in an inhumane way.

As for sports purposes or when you want to determine parameters such as POI (Point of Impact) and POA (Point of Aim) of a gun, 20 yards is an adequate number. In some cases, people also use the 15-meter mark to align when they want to evaluate parameters.

In addition, there are some other levels like 30 or 25 meters that you can use in some other exceptional cases.

But whatever the distance, our primary goal is not to try to destroy the specimen.

But here, we need to check and calculate the efficiency and other parameters.

If the distance is too close, it will be a nightmare to give the wrong parameters and confuse the judgment.

Step By Step To Pattern A Shotgun

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Step By Step To follow

Many people think that just folding a piece of paper or cardboard can create a prototype for the shotgun. However, this statement is not accurate when trying to simplify all the operations that we will need to perform to ensure precise measurements and safety. So I will guide you in detail with the steps to create a prototype most simply and effectively.

  • Prepare paper or newspaper that is at least 3ft x 3ft as the first item you need to prepare. Then a pen to create a base point for easier visualization, and finally, you will need to prepare an ample enough space to arrange and ensure your safety when working.
  • After preparing all the ingredients, we will begin to create a prototype according to the following steps. First, take two pieces of butcher or newsprint we designed, then you need to mark the top of the paper to remember which side is on. The last step is to mark the heart’s center with an existing marker. If you don’t have a feature, you can replace it with a piece of dark tape. The best size for the centrum would be about 6″
  • Next, we will need to fix the test piece in a position and move it with the distance I suggested above, depending on the needs and parameters you want to measure.
  • In this step, you will need to fix the shotgun, load the ammo, and start testing. At this point, you will need to pay attention to one issue: what type of ammunition is used and how the gun we are using has a choke design. Because choke and ammo are two factors that significantly affect the gun’s performance, any change can impact substantially.
  • In the end, you need to aim precisely at the heart and open fire.

For models with double-barreled or top/bottom pistols, you’ll need extra work to ensure the most accurate results.

Specifically, the work you need to do is to mark one more target for each barrel and have separate and independent records for each barrel. Even the test steps need their independence.

The main reason for this action is that even on a single gun, there is a high chance that the two barrels will be uneven in performance. And equivalence will cause data errors.

The Analysis of Pattern 

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The Analysis

After measuring the data, the next step will be to analyze and produce the final results to answer the problems that we are not clear about. However, with up to two types of sample checking, you will need to define in advance the goal and the action you want to perform to act faster and more accurately.

However, before we go into each of them separately, there are a few things that you need to do to simplify and visualize the testing processes more.

You will need to estimate the sample first by looking at the holes in the test piece to assess your shot.

If the difference is not high, we can start the next steps. If the difference is significant, you will need to shoot again to get the most accurate parameters.

If we have completed the differential assessment step, we will determine the main bombardment area of ​​the gun in the next step.

First, we’ll need a 15-inch piece of string to attach to a pen and a pin on the other end.

Next, we’ll put the thumbtack in the center hole you’ve marked and draw a circle 30 inches in diameter.

All objects or bullets in this round will be in the kill zone, where you can guarantee to damage or destroy the target.

Pellet Count

Bullet counting is the method where you will count the bullet holes that appear in the kill zone that we marked earlier.

  • All bullet holes will prove how real bullets have penetrated the object and caused damage. Once you have the data, you can repeat the experiment a few more times to get more information, reducing possible surprises.
  • Next, you will need to aggregate all the information and compare it with the manufacturer’s specifications in the manual or on their website. Usually, big brands will publicize information so that users can easily refer to and compare it.
  • If you do not find this information, you can use specialized calculation formulas to calculate the results and then compare them with the basic parameters of the gun line. And finally, the results will appear for us to judge.

Pellet Density

In addition to the number of bullets in the kill zone, the number of tablets is also a great source of information that we can exploit.


How far will a 12 gauge shot go?

Two hundred yards is the average distance a 12 gauge shot can reach. Of course, this number can change depending on many different factors.

What determines the spread of a shotgun?

The type of ammo, the kind of choke a gun owns, and the gun’s design all greatly influence the spread of each shot from the weapon itself.

Why do hunters pattern their shotgun?

Increasing accuracy and making each shot more humane are the two main reasons hunters give to explain why they test samples so much.


Through today’s article, I hope you have answered the question: what distance should be used to pattern a shotgun and have gained more knowledge in testing and using shotguns.

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