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Article 3 – 2022 (April)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 3 – 2022 (April)

Question:  With the cost of ammunition on the rise and even worse not being able to buy decent quantities to stockpile, do you think it is OK to practice with cheaper shot shells of less quality and reduced velocity and save the premium loads for competition?

Ken Zhao, Moonee Ponds VIC

Answer:   It’s a good question Ken and with what’s happening around the world with ammunition prices and availability it is very relevant.

I guess I need to start by asking what do you define as “cheap” shot shells and why do you assume cheaper or even slower is less adequate? In some disciplines of clay target shooting there simply is no need to spend a fortune on premium shot shells, but I say that with a grain of salt. If my life was dependant on breaking a sixty metre edge on crossing target would I want to use any old shotshell? No way! I would search for a shell with high quality round with very hard shot, proven reliability and most of all consistency. But here’s the thing. Most shot shells available today have that. If they don’t then they simply don’t survive on the market.

If you are confident with your brand of shot shell then you will probably hit what you are shooting at if you are doing everything technically correct. The moment you introduce doubt into your mind then you are pretty much done.

So getting back to your question, would I practice with a different shot shell as opposed to one I was going to use in a competition? If it was the Olympics I was getting ready for then not in a million years, but if it was a local club competition then obviously the care factor is much lower and it probably would not phase me too much. The reason I suggest I wouldn’t recommend swapping and changing shot shells when preparing an assault on the Olympics is simply that keeping the ammunition constant eliminates a possible variation in the performance equation which is a massive help mentally as well as possibly helping the quality of performances in training. I say “possibly” because in many cases it would be hard to pick the difference between shot shells in the way they are breaking clays apart, but if you don’t ever change then it eliminates the doubt.

Many years ago Winchester in Italy produced a shotshell called “Thunder”. It was a high brass shotshell with the most impressive and unique print on each individual shot shell. I had no idea what was inside each cartridge, but the outside looked so good I was sure it would help me. I shot quite well with them because I thought they were special. Years later I remember actually reading the technical specifications and ballistic report on these shells and I was shattered to find out that they were no better (or worse) than many of the other types of ammunition on offer from the same company. The fact is they helped me because I thought they would.

I have said this many times in this column. If you are looking to spend money on shot shells go with those with quality shot if you are looking at breaking targets at distance. For your short range shooting the shot hardness and quality won’t come into play as much, but consistent shot patterns from low recoil ammunition is hard to beat in these events. Your argument that reduced velocity can be a disadvantage is quite incorrect. I would suggest lower velocities in some disciplines like Trap (DTL) and Skeet can be quite advantageous especially when hundreds of shots per day are required.

I can’t spend your money, but unless your “second choice” ammo is so bad that it can make a major physical difference to your scores then I wouldn’t worry too much. If it keeps you at the range shooting at targets then I would say go for it.

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