Like much in game shooting, our choice of shot size has evolved. The era before international corporations dominated the UK shooting market, and US-style marketeers brought professional persuasion to an unsuspecting public, was quite different. But not necessarily bad.
There is much in modern game shooting to be proud of, not least the fact that it is so much more accessible to anyone who is prepared to abide by some simple rules of safety and sportsmanship.
If you go back a generation, most shot game was killed at a reasonably close range with open chokes and the most popular load was 28g English No 7s. The choice of shot size is always a trade-off between pattern and penetration. The smaller the pellet the better the pattern, but you lose penetration the further you extend the range. On the other side, there are more gaps in the pattern with larger shot even though it penetrates to the vital organs at a greater distance. So people tightened up their chokes an used larger shot weights.
The trend over time has been towards larger shot sizes and tighter chokes. Shot weights crept up from 28g towards 32g to try to improve patterns with more pellets in each cartridge. This coincided with the over-and-under becoming a frequent sight on the peg and its greater weigh meant it was more comfortable to shoot bigger loads.
The over-and-under also came with 70mm chambers — a larger load of bigger pellets wasn’t easy to cram into a 65mm case.
This momentum didn’t slow as the marketeers realised the benefits of sponsored shooters and wider coverage. Their competition guns were now acceptable and their skill level meant they began to seek higher birds. Today we are running out of synonyms for the word ‘extreme’ for newly offered cartridges.
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August 12, 2020