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PRO TIPS with USAMU - Bill Keever

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Bill Keever – Shotgun Chokes

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 Choke is something that should be understood by every shotgun shooter. On today’s pro tip I’m going to explain choke in such a way that the next time you go to the field or range you’ll make the best choice that will give you the best results. When we talk about choke we’re referring to the last two to four inches at the end of the barrel. With today’s technology we have the ability to change our chokes, and with me today I have an assortment of chokes here on the table. 

We’re going to start with cylinder choke which is the most open choke or has the least amount of constriction in the center here. This choke will be a good choice out to 20 yards. 

Next we have skeet choke which will be good out to about 25 yards. 

Now we have improved cylinder and I like to use this choke out to about 30 yards. 

Modified has been the dove hunter’s choice for years and would be an excellent choice out to 35 yards. 

Finally we have full choke, and this would be a great choke out to about 40 yards. That being said I have broken targets at 35 yards with a skeet choke, and likewise, 25 yards with a full choke, but my percentage of breaks goes down drastically. So remember what I have told you is a guide and definitely not set in stone. 

 

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Now let me show you why one choke is better than another at a giving distance. I’m going to start with cylinder choke, or the most open choke. As you can see here cylinder is a great choice because the target is about 12 yards away when I break it. 

Now let’s try that same cylinder choke on a target that is 30 yards away, but here when the gun goes off the target keeps flying. Now I’m going to show you what both of those chokes look like.

 

 

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First we have the cylinder at 12 yards. As you can see this is a nice size pattern for a 12 yard shot, and the pellets are also evenly distributed throughout this pattern. If I take a clay target, there’s nowhere in here I can place this target where it won’t be hit by any pellets. 

 

 

 

 

Also, let’s look at that 30 yard choke. As you can see here it’s quite a bit larger. Now if I can take this same target there are numerous places I can put this target in here and it won’t be hit by pellets. It’s a common belief it takes at least 3 pellets to break one of these clay targets. 

 

Now here’s that same 12 yard shot with a full choke. You may be saying to yourself he had no problem breaking that 12 yard target with a full choke, but he said earlier that full choke was for a target out to 40 yards. Well you’re right, but here’s the problem. That full choke at 12 yards only has an eight inch pattern. So when I bring this target in here as you can see I have very little room for error up, down, right, or left. Now that full choke at 30 yards has a much nicer pattern, and I have a lot more room for error here.  The next time you take to the field make sure you choose the choke that will optimize your performance. Until next time, stay Army strong.  

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