In Olympic Trap and Skeet we have the advantage of knowing exactly how far shots are going to be and we can order a set of barrels with fixed chokes like the ones I have here for those exact shots.
Your typical hunting shotgun comes with a set of chokes of varying constrictions for shots at different distances. In today’s Pro Tip, I’m going to show you how to match up your choice of choke with the shot you’re most likely to encounter on your next hunting trip.
On the patterning board you can see the difference between Skeet, Modified, and Full Chokes at a distance of 30 yards.
Now you might be tempted to leave a modified choke in your shotgun because it lands neatly in the middle of the spectrum but I would caution you to avoid that because it will handicap you in certain situations. The modified choke is a little too tight for flushing birds that are holding tight and it’s too open for a lot of waterfowl shots. It’s also a bad choice for trap and skeet for the same reasons.
I like to use modified choke for dove on opening day. After that I’ll tighten up. Here are the chokes I prefer for different birds.
The most open chokes are skeet and then improved cylinder.
In hunting situations, I would only use these on flushing birds that are holding tight, like pen-raised quail.
Light-modified would be my choice on early season pheasant, before they’re educated.
Modified is my favorite choke for dove hunting for its versatility. When I hunt ducks and geese I prefer the added range the modified choke offers.
A full choke and beyond should be used when turkey hunting because weary toms will often hang up beyond 40 yards.
To better simulate the effectiveness of these chokes at different distances, let’s shoot some clays. Now if you’re having trouble deciding between two chokes, always go with the tighter one.
Too much choke is better than not enough, and if you have the chance to practice on clays beforehand, using the tighter choke will help you be more accurate in your shot placement improving your skill overall.
Use these tips when changing your choke, when your hunting situation changes, and bag more birds.