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Shotgun Ammo: Do You Have to Relearn to Shoot After Switching to High-Velocity Loads?

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March 22, 2013

Shotgun Ammo: Do You Have to Relearn to Shoot After Switching to High-Velocity Loads?

By Phil Bourjaily

Deadeye Dick asked an excellent question in a comment on the high velocity ping pong ball post: Do you have to relearn how to shoot when you switch to very high velocity loads?

Others will disagree but I will say no, you don’t have to learn to shoot all over again. I haven’t recalibrated my leads consciously or (as far as I know) unconsciously when I shoot high velocity ammo. Remington’s website says the difference in lead between their 1,675 fps Hypersonic and other steel is 11 percent — about eight inches at 40 yards. That would be on a true 90-degree crosser at 40 yards, and most makeable shots in the field occur at shorter distances and shallower angles. On, say, a 20-yard quartering target, the difference in lead between a super-fast shell and a normal velocity shell is negligible.

Remember that your pattern is 30 inches wide and has a dense core part covering 20 inches, you have some margin for error when you lead a target.

Also, in my field observation of average hunters, most of them can’t hit 40 yard crossers anyway, so eight inches less lead isn’t going to make a bit of difference.

That said, confidence is an important ingredient in good shotgun shooting. If you are wondering about how much to lead a bird, you may as well take the shells out of the gun and throw them at it. If you need to practice with steel to develop confidence in it, then by all means go vaporize some clay targets with your super-fast duck loads until you believe in them.

The extra velocity will hit birds harder. It will put a few more pellets in the front end of the target, but only if you forget how fast your pellets are going and focus on the target.

Comments (15)

Top Rated
All Comments
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

No, but you may have to relearn to not flinch, and that is hard to do.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

The 3" Remington Hypersonic BB's do not have any more or less perceived recoil to me than other 3" steel loads. I shot a couple of boxes the last 2 seasons and my buddy is looking for a case since I made a couple of 3-birds kills on one flock-pass shots this past season and the others were banging away and nothing was falling. Faster is better in any steel load. I have not changed my lead either. It is just a little more leahal out at the edges of sensible ranges, IMO.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I, myself am not a duck hunter. the reason I posed that question is because I have been with a few friends that do hunt ducka and the consistantly miss with fast steel loads buit when hunting other birds like pheasant chucker etc they seem to do quite well. So, now that it is not the speed of fast loads what would you consider being the main reason why they miss. I have my own thoughts as to why they miss but I would like to hear from you, Phil. Thanks for putting my question in your blog

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Shooting ducks from a blind is different than upland bird hunting. With upland birds most shots are going away, and not much lead necessary. And it is more instinctive shooting...bird flushes..see bird hit bird. With duck shooting what often works to the gunners disadvantage is he sees the ducks coming to soon before he shoots. He can mount his gun too soon before he shoots. Often times the duck you do not see coming in, and it just appears out of nowhere, is the one the gunner makes a good shot on just like he does on upland birds. And the longer crossing angles take some lead.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Obviously, current steel shotshells, "fast" or "slow" are at least an order of magnitude better than in the early '80's. I find that the slower velocity steel loads of today definitely require more lead for high crossing ducks or geese than the fast steel loads; and there is no question that the added velocity provides more foot-pounds of energy imparted (knock-down power) to the bird. That appears especially observable when pass shooting geese with large shot: BB, BBB and T's. Shooting large, light- weight steel shot in a wind greater than 10 mph is another matter for a "Kentucky windage" discussion at some point. I rely on the heavy as- and heavier than- lead shotshells for the answer to long range, high wind situations; less shot drift and much better energy retention.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I shoot skeet from Early April through August with reloaded shells around 1150 fps. When I shift to ducks, I use Kent Fasteel and use the same lead(please read that as leed,not what it could sound like) and find myself eating lots of ducks each week so I can continue to hunt. A box of shells usually lasts me 3 hunts with a 6 duck limit.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

The difference in the shooters lead, and the fractions of time difference for shot to reach the target has been proven to be neglegable, and the need for longer lead. And when applying the mass times speed formula to produce energy..... when you double the speed you double the energy, BUT when you double the mass you QUADRUPLE the energy! That is why the steel mfgers are forced to have to way up the speed to get any significant energy increase, and performance stinks doing so with a round pellet. Thuse they put wings on the steel, and all kinds of design tricks to attempt to get the round pellet to perform. And increase the speed, and you increase the round pellets air resistance. It is forced to slow down faster.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RandyMI wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I really love it when the experts' comments confirm my ideas and/or experience.... I figured these faster shells would produce more hits to the front of birds rather than the middle or rear. Misses in front are almost never, right? And greater impact energy is surely welcome.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

How about the welcome when the patterns get blown apart because of too high of velocity? And that is what happened on the study I read. Conclusion to the study? Really didn't know why the patterns were so poor beyond 35 yds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Always good stuff from Phil about field shooting and what to do to get better. If more folks would practice with some perspective about how to get better it "could " end the banter about shot size and velocity :) Just learn to put the muzzle where the bird is going folks .......
To deadeye: have you friends spend some time on the skeet field or sporting clays shooting at similar shots they get on ducks. That should help !

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Springerman....NOT true "put the barrel where the bird is going"

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bscrandall wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I would have to say that, with practice, you wouldn't have a problem hunting with high-velocity loads.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

clinchknot: I believe if you put the muzzle where it belongs the barrel will follow. ( physics ) The opposite may not allow you to put the muzzle in the proper place, if you are seeing too much of the barrel then your focus is possibly distracted from the target ? Gun slows down, miss behind .....
The shooting instruction I have had ( book, video or shooting coach ) almost always speak of putting the muzzle where the bird is going :)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Putting the muzzle where the bird is going is much too simplistic. Many a gunner has taken a lead with the muzzle, and shot behind the target. When told they shot behind the target they think you are lying because they know they led the target...If the barrel is not moving at a moving target you will shoot behind, and that is a common mistake. The best method to avoid that is the follow through method...butt-beak-bang. The sustained lead method? Good if you can do it, but it tends to cause you to stop the barrel just before you fire. And those that can move the barrel at the targets speed can place the muzzle in the kill zone longer than someone that moves the muzzle far faster than the target. The mount is critical understanding that if you mount the gun at, or very near the target, (and not above it), the muzzle will not be in line with your eye, but for a very short time, eliminating that tendency to look back, and down the barrel. Some guys can mount the gun, and follow a target for a long time, and not look back down the barrel, but very few can. But it is very interesting to me to just understand, and know what goes on rather than just doing something with little understanding what takes place. That is why I fly fish vs. sitting on the bank, and watching my float bobber waiting for it to go down.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

clinchknot: Been busy with Easter so had not checked back. Interesting post with several thoughts, some don't connect the dots ..... The KISS method works well for most, I suggest you stick with fishing :)
By the way, are you related to sayfu that used to post alot, I see many similar perspectives .....

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

No, but you may have to relearn to not flinch, and that is hard to do.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

The 3" Remington Hypersonic BB's do not have any more or less perceived recoil to me than other 3" steel loads. I shot a couple of boxes the last 2 seasons and my buddy is looking for a case since I made a couple of 3-birds kills on one flock-pass shots this past season and the others were banging away and nothing was falling. Faster is better in any steel load. I have not changed my lead either. It is just a little more leahal out at the edges of sensible ranges, IMO.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Shooting ducks from a blind is different than upland bird hunting. With upland birds most shots are going away, and not much lead necessary. And it is more instinctive shooting...bird flushes..see bird hit bird. With duck shooting what often works to the gunners disadvantage is he sees the ducks coming to soon before he shoots. He can mount his gun too soon before he shoots. Often times the duck you do not see coming in, and it just appears out of nowhere, is the one the gunner makes a good shot on just like he does on upland birds. And the longer crossing angles take some lead.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Obviously, current steel shotshells, "fast" or "slow" are at least an order of magnitude better than in the early '80's. I find that the slower velocity steel loads of today definitely require more lead for high crossing ducks or geese than the fast steel loads; and there is no question that the added velocity provides more foot-pounds of energy imparted (knock-down power) to the bird. That appears especially observable when pass shooting geese with large shot: BB, BBB and T's. Shooting large, light- weight steel shot in a wind greater than 10 mph is another matter for a "Kentucky windage" discussion at some point. I rely on the heavy as- and heavier than- lead shotshells for the answer to long range, high wind situations; less shot drift and much better energy retention.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I shoot skeet from Early April through August with reloaded shells around 1150 fps. When I shift to ducks, I use Kent Fasteel and use the same lead(please read that as leed,not what it could sound like) and find myself eating lots of ducks each week so I can continue to hunt. A box of shells usually lasts me 3 hunts with a 6 duck limit.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Always good stuff from Phil about field shooting and what to do to get better. If more folks would practice with some perspective about how to get better it "could " end the banter about shot size and velocity :) Just learn to put the muzzle where the bird is going folks .......
To deadeye: have you friends spend some time on the skeet field or sporting clays shooting at similar shots they get on ducks. That should help !

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

clinchknot: I believe if you put the muzzle where it belongs the barrel will follow. ( physics ) The opposite may not allow you to put the muzzle in the proper place, if you are seeing too much of the barrel then your focus is possibly distracted from the target ? Gun slows down, miss behind .....
The shooting instruction I have had ( book, video or shooting coach ) almost always speak of putting the muzzle where the bird is going :)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I, myself am not a duck hunter. the reason I posed that question is because I have been with a few friends that do hunt ducka and the consistantly miss with fast steel loads buit when hunting other birds like pheasant chucker etc they seem to do quite well. So, now that it is not the speed of fast loads what would you consider being the main reason why they miss. I have my own thoughts as to why they miss but I would like to hear from you, Phil. Thanks for putting my question in your blog

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RandyMI wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I really love it when the experts' comments confirm my ideas and/or experience.... I figured these faster shells would produce more hits to the front of birds rather than the middle or rear. Misses in front are almost never, right? And greater impact energy is surely welcome.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bscrandall wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I would have to say that, with practice, you wouldn't have a problem hunting with high-velocity loads.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

The difference in the shooters lead, and the fractions of time difference for shot to reach the target has been proven to be neglegable, and the need for longer lead. And when applying the mass times speed formula to produce energy..... when you double the speed you double the energy, BUT when you double the mass you QUADRUPLE the energy! That is why the steel mfgers are forced to have to way up the speed to get any significant energy increase, and performance stinks doing so with a round pellet. Thuse they put wings on the steel, and all kinds of design tricks to attempt to get the round pellet to perform. And increase the speed, and you increase the round pellets air resistance. It is forced to slow down faster.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

How about the welcome when the patterns get blown apart because of too high of velocity? And that is what happened on the study I read. Conclusion to the study? Really didn't know why the patterns were so poor beyond 35 yds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Springerman....NOT true "put the barrel where the bird is going"

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Putting the muzzle where the bird is going is much too simplistic. Many a gunner has taken a lead with the muzzle, and shot behind the target. When told they shot behind the target they think you are lying because they know they led the target...If the barrel is not moving at a moving target you will shoot behind, and that is a common mistake. The best method to avoid that is the follow through method...butt-beak-bang. The sustained lead method? Good if you can do it, but it tends to cause you to stop the barrel just before you fire. And those that can move the barrel at the targets speed can place the muzzle in the kill zone longer than someone that moves the muzzle far faster than the target. The mount is critical understanding that if you mount the gun at, or very near the target, (and not above it), the muzzle will not be in line with your eye, but for a very short time, eliminating that tendency to look back, and down the barrel. Some guys can mount the gun, and follow a target for a long time, and not look back down the barrel, but very few can. But it is very interesting to me to just understand, and know what goes on rather than just doing something with little understanding what takes place. That is why I fly fish vs. sitting on the bank, and watching my float bobber waiting for it to go down.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

clinchknot: Been busy with Easter so had not checked back. Interesting post with several thoughts, some don't connect the dots ..... The KISS method works well for most, I suggest you stick with fishing :)
By the way, are you related to sayfu that used to post alot, I see many similar perspectives .....

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment