The vitals of a dove are roughly the size of a golf ball-a little less than 2 inches. To reliably put one or two pellets on that small target, you will need to see a total of at least 225 to 250 holes in the 30-inch circle. If you're not coming up with enough, you'll need a heavier shot load, smaller shot, or more choke. A great way to fill out a smallbore pattern is to use No. 9 shot, at least for short-range shooting. Even a puny 28-gauge skeet load of 9s totals 438 pellets, and 9s retain enough energy to kill doves at 20 to 25 yards. For shots out to 35 yards, stick with 8s and either shoot heavier loads or tighten your chokes if you need more pattern density. Long-range, 40-yard-plus dove shooting calls for a 12-gauge with 71/2s and a Modified or tighter choke.