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Article 9 – 2011

person aiming shotgun at target range

Question: I have been playing around with different reloads for many years. I think that I can load shot shells on my MEC 650 just as good as any mass produced loads made by any reputable manufacturer. I only use the best components and am very strict on the quality of my second hand hulls. Lately I have been experimenting by mixing a variety of size number 6, 7 and 8 shot all in the same 24 gram load. I have tested them at my local range shooting Trap and find them excellent to use. I am sure this is due to the longer shot strings that I am now achieving. I am curious on your thoughts.

 

Answer: I have withheld your name from publication as I am not entirely sure what you are doing is legal. If you are shooting International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) events, because you mention your reloads are 24 grams then I can assume this may be correct, then intentionally mixing different size shot may very well be illegal. The relevant ISSF rule regarding ammunition is a little ambiguous. It states;

no internal changes may be made which will give an extra or special dispersion effect, such as the inverse loading of components, crossing devices, etc

As you are suggesting that you are mixing shot sizes to gain a special dispersion effect then I would think you may be breaking the rules. Secondly if you are using an American or European shot size number 6 then its diametre is 2.79mm which is well above the maximum permissible size of 2.6mm (for the record an English number 6 is permissible at 2.59mm).

The reality is that if you cut open most shot shells you will find a “mix” of types already existing. You may get a shock when you carefully inspect the exact size of the shot you are using as very few target shot shells can boast perfect shot uniformity across three hundred or so pellets.

Let us put all that aside and assume that your “mixed” shot load is legal the question remains does it help? The debate about shot string has been going on for years. American author Bob Brister proved its existence decades ago with some simple experiments in his book “Shotgunning The Art and Science”, but there is still substantial debate whether it is an asset or liability. For years I have heard shooters state they like to use tighter chokes because they gain a longer shot string. This is in fact a myth as shot strings will occur to a degree in all choke sizes, but they are more prevalent in open or cylinder chokes. The reality is that in a perfect world you would try and have all of your pellets arrive at the targets breaking point at exactly the same time in a perfect uniform pattern. This is impossible due to a variety of reasons with the biggest factor being air resistance with the shot pellets at the front of the shot column “sheltering” the shot at the rear of the column thus forcing the shot to travel at slightly different speeds and arriving at the target at different times.

I have no evidence to suggest that a greater mix of shot would do anything but make a longer shot column as the larger shot should obviously react to the air differently than smaller shot, but in all honesty I can’t see this as being something that you would want happening to produce better scores.

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