What choke should I use?
Andrew’s philosophy on life: Never argue with friends about politics, religion, or shotgun chokes.
Probably the most popular question someone asks after they understand the game we play is “What choke should I use?” This question causes more arguments than politics on a gun range.
The answer: “It depends.” (Your response: “Well, that was a lot of help!)
Chokes do follow a standard naming scheme of Full, Light Full, Improved Mod, Mod, Light Mod, Improved Cylinder, Skeet, and Cylinder. You may also see name such as Skeet USA, Skeet International, Skeet European, Trap Singles I, Trap Singles II, Trap Doubles, Sporting Clays, etc. These names are relative but not the same across manufactures.
So, how do you know which one to use. Shoot it and find out — that’s what practice is for. The basic rule: tighten your choke for further-away targets and open it for closer targets.
For trap you probably want a Mod or Improved Cylinder. Mod works well for slower shooters and IC is better for faster. For skeet, you want a skeet. (Go figure!) For sporting clays, I would start with a Mod and go from there. Sporting clays requires a good hunting choke that works for a wide variety of shots.
“I have a young shooter who is slow to pickup the target. Should I switch him to a Mod choke?” No, make him shoot faster.
“I have a shooter who insists on shooting a Full choke and says he can’t hit with anything else.” It is amazing how little we coaches know about shooting and how much of an expert our shooters and parents are. Makes you wonder why they even need you. When you have a shooter or parent who won’t listen, you can try to show them in a different way or you can give up. For me, I put them on a lower shooting squad and ignore them. (Tough love.) When they want to hit more targets, they will come ask. If they get mad and leave, you didn’t need them anyway. (If he really is that good with a Full choke, don’t mess with a good thing.)
By Andrew Peercy, TNSCTP manager