Lansing, Michigan -(Ammoland.com)- When I was introduced to the Winchester Long Beard XR Turkey shotshells last year, patterns at 50 yards and beyond were unprecedented in my experience.
With a 1 ¾-ounce load of shot in a 3-inch shell, it’s almost incomprehensible how science could have made it so much more effective than much heavier payloads.
However, a proprietary Shot-Lok compound insures the lead-plated pellets’ roundness under impact in the barrel and it produces more pellets on target than any other turkey loads I’ve used over the years.
The innovative design employs less shot, which makes the price of $17 to $25 for a box of 10 rounds significantly lower than other high-end turkey loads. Plus, the felt recoil is less punishing than typical shoulder-smashing shells. But, if you prefer some extra punch, 3 ½-inch shells are available, as well.
However, to make an ethical shot, a hunter must still be able to put those pellets on target.
The extended-range potential made me aware of a shortcoming in my multi-purpose shotgun: With only a front bead sight, centering the pattern on target at the longer range became difficult.
Not prepared to spend money on a dedicated turkey gun and scope combo, I pondered the possibilities with the scattergun. Adding some type of optic would mean drilling and tapping and I really didn’t want to bugger up my primary shotgun by drilling holes and adding a scope that would have to be removed for upland game.
Rather, I installed a HiViz TriViz Fiber Optic Turkey Sight to the ventilated rib for under $25. With its adjustable rear sight and a front sight with interchangeable LitePipes for elevation adjustments, I began the sight-in process with inexpensive game loads of 8-shot to get the pattern on target.
It’s best not to assume that the shot will actually be centered on the target without verification. The lighter loads allowed multiple shots during adjustments at a fraction of the cost and didn’t beat me up. For the stiffer loads, however, a good shoulder pad can ease the effects of recoil to avoid acquiring a flinch, but if you don’t have one, a folded towel will work.
It’s important to sight in during calm winds, because those relatively small projectiles can be blown 6 inches off target in only a 10 mph crosswind at 40 yards! If you must sight in during windy conditions, set the patterning target directly up or down wind.
Next, place a small aiming point on a piece of paper at least 36 inches square and aim at it as you would with a rifle from a stable rest. If the results are off center, the gun may need some work or it may be a poor fit. Otherwise, installing some type of optic may be the best solution so that adjustments in the aiming point can be made. Either way, the test must be conducted before wasting time, expensive ammunition or worse yet, crippling a bird afield.
Once the shot is centered, try shooting at various ranges so that you know how tight the pattern actually is. While it may be debatable how many pellets in the kill zone (head/neck area) are enough, a good rule of thumb requires a minimum of 3 pellets or more in the zone every time.
With a little work, you’ll be able to learn where the optimal distance is based on your results.
About Glen Wunderlich:
Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM).