Q: I shoot English Sporting with 7½ or 8 shot cartridges. Should I also be using No. 9s? And what chokes should I use?

John says: Too many people hamper their scores by constantly changing chokes and worrying about shot sizes. They seem to forget that No. 8 shot – and certainly 7½ shot – fired through ¼ and ½ choke will cope with just about every target on a Sporting layout.

Eights are a good all-round choice but it’s worth taking along a few 7s or 7½s just in case you come up against edge-on long-range clays – the larger pellet has the punch to break through a clay’s tough outer rim at distance.

No. 9s have a limited use in Sporting and that’s through open chokes on edge-on targets out to about 25 yards where a dense pattern helps ensure the small target area receives multiple hits. That said, a No. 8 cartridge through the same choke at the same distance will do everything that a No. 9 will.

I can’t remember the last time I used cartridges loaded with No. 9 shot at Sporting preferring, instead, 8s… with 7½s for those longer targets.