On Target: Point of Aim/Point of Impact

Friday, April 21, 2017
Making sure your shotgun puts its pattern where you aim is essential to bagging a gobbler.
Photo by Jay Langston

Youíve spent countless hours getting ready for turkey season. Youíve scouted a great location with plenty of gobblers.

But what about your turkey gun?

There are some very important aspects of shooting a turkey gun accurately that need your attention before pulling the trigger on a tom. After youíve found a load that patterns well -- one that will put more than 100 pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards -- itís time to do some fine tuning.

When youíre shooting a tight-patterning shotgun at a small target Ė such as a gobblerís head and neck, you have to be sure the core of the load is hitting precisely where you aim. As in shooting a rifle, changing loads from one brand to the next can change the point of impact downrange. Switching choke tubes can change point of impact, too. Here are a few tips to keep in mind: When sighting in, use a steady rest. Wear your hunting clothes, to make sure the gun fits you in practice the same way it does in the field.

Try a few shots from sitting position with the gun propped on your knee, to make sure your eye -- your rear sight -- is lining up the same as it did from the shooting bench.

If your turkey gun has bead sights, make sure you go through a mental checklist each time you shoot:

ē Hold your face tight to the stock every time.

ē Make sure the beads are in perfect alignment.

ē Keep your shooting eye focused on the front sight, which should slightly blur the target.

What if your shotgun doesnít center the pattern where youíre aiming? Thatís when adjustable rifle-type sights come in handy. There are several models available that will clamp onto your existing shotgun barrel rib, or you can have a gunsmith install a set. When youíve got them in place, itís a simple matter of fine-tuning the adjustments to get everything lined up.

Another option is a low-powered scope. A zero to 3X magnification will work the best. Some scopes have standard cross hairs, while others offer various range-finding reticles. Either diamond-shaped or circular, the center of the reticle covers a specified area which corresponds to different measurements at different ranges. With practice, you can gauge the range to a gobbler by comparing the reticleís center area to a part of the birdís body, such as the distance from the top of his head to his beard. Simmons, Pentax, Bushnell and Burris scopes have proven top performers on my turkey guns over the years. Whichever model you choose, make sure the eye relief is long enough to keep your face away from the rear of the scope.

Although Iíve been lucky, I have seen a few turkey hunters who got too close to their scopes and got some nasty cuts when the scope came back in recoil.

Over the past few seasons, Iíve had success with ďdotĒ scopes, ones that use a simple dot as the aiming point. Iíve had equal success with Simmons, Aimpoint, and Burris models.

Itís simple to adjust the dot to cover the center of your shot pattern. And, itís easier to keep your gun on target, even in odd shooting positions. A real big advantage is that your sights and your target are in perfect focus at the same time.

Once you get accustomed to shooting with a scope, youíll learn what I have: Getting lined up on a cagey old gobbler is every bit as fast as shooting with standard bead sights.