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Will heavier shot reduce the number of clipped birds?

I’m not a bad shot but it surprises me just how many dead pigeons I pick up under surrounding trees after a day’s shooting. Is this normal? Should I switch to a heavier shot or use slightly tighter chokes?

No matter how good a shot you are, there will always be birds clipped by the odd pellet from the edge of the pattern. These birds will often make it to surrounding trees where they will die from their injuries, and can be retrieved at the end of the day.

Tightening your chokes will actually make matters worse because you will be reducing the effective size of the pattern, and putting an unnecessary premium on accuracy on the closer targets. It is a fallacy that bigger shot kills cleaner than small, after all, you cannot kill anything deader than dead!

Provided the pellets have enough velocity to penetrate the vital organs of whatever you intend to kill – which 7s will do on pigeons out to 40 yards – then all you need to do is ensure enough pellets hit the target. It is generally agreed that five pellet strikes with at least .85lbs of energy will kill a pigeon. It is no coincidence that 28gms of No.7 shot fired from a cylinder barrel, will deliver such a pattern at 40 yards.

Finally, any sportsman worthy of the name will do as you do – and that’s have a good look around nearby hedgerow trees for fallen birds after doing the main pick up.

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