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Deciding on chokes is a funny thing and not as easy as just deciding which one you want to use, or which one other folks suggest. A modified choke from Browning won't throw the same pattern as a modified choke from Beretta, which won't throw the same pattern as a modified choke from Briley.


The "BEST" thing to do is to take a bunch of 48" x 48" pieces of paper out to a range and pattern your chokes with the target loads you want to use, at a distance of about 35 or 40 yards.


I would start with modified, improved modified, and full.


I would not recommend anything more open than a modified choke for trap targets.


This can be tedious, but you need to cut one of your shells apart, and count how many pellets are in it. Depending on shot size, it'll be about 350 to 500 pellets.


Then, you need to take 8 or 10 shots at the paper, (using a new sheet of paper for each shot) using the center of the paper as your point of aim. Count the number of pellets that strike the paper inside a 30" circle, drawn around the point of aim.


Use the choke that puts the highest percentage of pellets in the 30 inch circle (that is, the highest percentage number when you take the number of pellet strikes inside the 30" circle, divided by the number of pellets you counted in that shell you cut open.)


Or, if you don't want to do that, try this. Its easier and less time consuming.


Stand at station 3 at the 20 yard line. Have the trap club set up the target machine to throw straight-aways.


Shoot 10 or 12 targets with a modified, 10 or 12 targets with an improved modified, and 10 or 12 targets with a full choke. Make sure you are using the same ammo you'll be using when you compete.


Use the most open choke that consistently gives you the "best" breaks, that is, smokes the target thoroughly.

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There's a "flawed theory" in trap shooting that a more open choke will get you a few targets you otherwise would have missed with a tight choke. Again, I say, this is a flawed theory.


Patterns thrown by more open chokes aren't really that much bigger than patterns thrown by tight chokes. They just have more pellets out at the "fringe" of the pattern, which means fewer pellets in the middle of the pattern.


When you shoot trap, your goal is to break targets where the middle of your pattern hits the target, not just "somewhere" in your pattern.


Most of the very best trap shooters, those in class AA27, tend to use a very tight full choke, regardless of whether they are shooting at the 16 yard lione or the 27 yard line.


Why? Because a tight pattern allows them to "read" their breaks. When the target turns to dust, they know they were right on. Even when the target breaks poorly or just chips, they can tell with a tight pattern whether they were in front, behind, above, or below by how and where the target breaks. That provides them mental feedback as to whether they had their gun point correct, and allows them to learn and adjust if necessary.


As a new shooter starting out, if you don't want to do the patterning, I'd start with a modified choke, and as you gain experience and confidence, move towards a tighter choke, say improved modified or light full. As you improve your handicap scores, get a few punches, and migrate back to the 24 or 25 yard line, I recommend nothing less than a true full choke.


Good luck. I really enjoy trap shooting. I am Class A singles, 25 yard handicap, and class B doubles, which means I'm a fair to middlin' trap shooter.


I also coached my daughter's SCTP trap shooting team. She's now on the trap shooting team at Kansas State University.


Hope you stick with it.



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  • 3 weeks later...

S.A Man,


Personally I like #8's with the mod choke in the gun. You have more pellots, tighter pattern and if you miss it is easier to see why.


If I back up on the Trap Yardage line then I may pop in 7 1/2 with the Mod Choke. I started out with the IC choke and could score ok but the clays would chip and split and it was really hard to see where I was shooting. With the Mod when I hit a target it blows up, PERIOD! If I chip with the mod choke or miss then I can easily see it and make the proper adjustment.


timb99 has good suggestions even going tighter as you get better. The other thing I do is shoot Premium loads. I shoot FIOCCHI 1 oz, #8 shot at 1250-1300FPS depending on the day. I like higher FPS shot because of the perception that the lead is less. When I go down in FPS man sometimes it feels like it takes forever for the shot to get to the target and I don't like lobbing shot out there. I want some power, force and less time between the trigger pull and the target breaking. Although patterning is needed and I have done that when I started I figured if I used premium stuff in my gun the pattern would be already good and after patterning my gun I was right and it was good.


Hope that helps.


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  • 3 weeks later...

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