Pigeon shooting is an extremely challenging sport which presents a variety of different shots, so choosing the right chokes is important.
Edward Watson: Now the season is over, it is so important to keep shooting. Most of you will break some clays in the off season, but if you do get the chance to shoot some pigeons, then please do. It is a wonderful way to shoot at live birds while taking a wide range of shots.
But shooting any great number does require getting quite a lot of factors right. Good reconnaissance is needed in the days before you go shooting to ensure you set up your hide in the best place. Then you must make sure you set out your decoys effectively to get the pigeons coming in to the hide from many different angles: some over your head, others crossing from both sides, and a few incomers too.
Coming back to your question of what chokes to use, I do not believe in continually changing your chokes and generally I like to shoot a fixed-choke gun. Otherwise you can get into the situation of worrying whether you would have hit that last bird if you had a different choke.
Most of the pigeons coming to your hide won’t be more than 20 yards from you, so you definitely don’t need to over-choke your gun. My advice would be to use half and half with good cartridges – this will give you the best pattern with close and long-range shots.
In fact I would use half and half choke for all types of quarry, and just use a range of different cartridges. What I mean by this is if you are shooting lower birds, you can use lighter loads, and when you go high-bird shooting, you can shoot heavier loads such as 32gram No.5 shot, or heavier. Don’t forget that if you put the lead in the right place, the bird will die. Chokes won’t make you hit or miss… but they may make your kills better.
If you have never shot pigeons before, go and try it for a day – you will find it can be the best form of shooting you ever do!