Q: The competition cartridges I use for clays and woodpigeons have a six per cent antimony content but would I be better using slightly softer shot for decoying and closer range clays, such as on the Skeet range?

A: In theory softer shot is supposed to pattern a little wider at shorter distances but not sufficiently so to bring about any noticeable improvement to a shooter’s hit rate.

Pellets with lower levels of antimony distort more easily when they hit a target which in turn means they deliver more shocking power to the quarry thereby resulting in cleaner kills. For this reason it might be worth buying a suitable field load and using it for that purpose.

That said, delving into the ballistics of different loads is all well and good but worrying too much about the technical stuff can sometimes get in the way of our actual shooting performance.

My advice would be to stick to the cartridges you now use regardless of how close – or far away – the targets or woodpigeons might be. If the shells you are buying deliver nice breaks at range and kill cleanly over the decoys, why change?