It is that time of year again: time to take our turkey guns to the range, grit our teeth and shoot patterns. It’s a painful process and there’s no way around it, but now Winchester offers a terrific shortcut with the Pattern Board. Winchester engineers patterned 2,687 shells through several different choke constrictions at distances from 10 yards to 70 yards. Their pain is your gain, because you can see every single pattern they shot on the Pattern Board. You can enter a gauge, shell length, shot size, choke constriction and type of Winchester shotshell and see the actual pattern it shot, not some computer simulation. You can compare four at once. It will help you narrow down your choices, saving you time, trouble and unnecessary pounding at the range.
It’s a fun time-waster, too, if you’re a shotgun nerd like me. Granted, it only features Winchester products, which is too bad, but I have shot a lot of turkeys with Winchester shells over the years and, as far as lead loads go, they are the best I have tried. Obviously there are a number of factors that aren’t included—bore of your gun, make of choke, wind, weather, altitude and so on. The Pattern Board doesn’t replace patterning your gun, but it will point you in the right direction if you’re looking for the perfect choke-load combination for your gun.
My only reservation about the Pattern Board was the decision to include 70-yard patterns. Click through enough different options (hint: Longbeard 4s) and you’ll find loads that can kill turkeys to 60 and maybe even 70 yards, and that is a long way. Most of the turkeys I have shot have been in the 20-35 yard range, which I consider the sweet spot for turkey shooting: close enough to make a shot with 100% certainty of killing the bird, not so close as to miss or remove a head with too tight a pattern. Now we have the capability to kill them at twice that distance, begging the question, at what distance does it stop being turkey hunting and turn into horizontal skybusting?