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Point of Impact, not a Marketing term.

Updated on November 17, 2015
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Ed has been an entrepreneur and business owner/start-up generator for 15 years. He has also been a shotgun coach!

Pointing not Aiming

You are shooting a shotgun not a rifle (assuming we are not shooting slugs, ok?) so we are not aiming at a pinpoint but pointing in the general direction of a probably moving target. You need to know where that shotgun is shooting to get the most out of every shot. So what is the problem?

Every shotgun has its own fingerprint of how it slings those shot out the end of the barrel. BUT the shotgun can change due to a number of variables in your bag of tricks. You, as a competitive shooter or hunter, need to know where you are shooting so you can be the most effective shooter on every target.

Lets first look at what the point of impact is. Here we are not looking specifically at the pattern thrown, but the place the barrel lines up on specifically. Normally you may pattern your shotgun on a piece of paper at 16 yards (skeet) or 30 yards (hunting or trap) to see what your pattern looks like where you are probably hitting your targets. Point of impact may be done at 10 yards or less! By being careful with what is behind your target (a soft bank is best) and wood posts so little chance of ricochet, put a big dot in the middle of a piece of newspaper size paper and "aim" the bead exactly to the middle of that dot and shoot 3 rounds from each barrel on your shotgun. Use different paper for each barrel. It may amaze you to seek the point of impact is not the middle of that black dot.

So it turns out the POI is 3 inches high or an inch or two low. What does that mean? Check your mount is first. Are you mounting your gun too high, too low? Are you just seeing a bead or are you seeing some portion of the rib on your mount? What is comfortable? What can you do to move your mount so your POI is closer to the top of that black dot on paper?

It may be that all you must do is adjust a little in the place you stick the butt of the gun in your shoulder. We aren't talking about a move of inches, we are talking about a move of fractions of an inch.

What Does It Matter?

I recently purchased a new over/under shotgun. Without any checking of the POI or pattern, I took it to the skeet range. I was not happy with my results. Very inconsistent in my shooting. I was downhearted and disappointed because I really liked this new gun. It seemed to fit well. The feel is solid and the swing is good. I was shooting with only a bead which I found by moving my mount a little higher on my shoulder, just a little, so that is all I could see.

But I wasn't hitting targets - except for high house birds for the most part. It was a very windy day so I didn't expect a perfect round. The birds were flying very wild but I should have still killed a lot more of them. So I checked my POI.

The new gun, when I adjusted my mount to where all I could see was just the front bead, was shooting both barrels below the straight line to the target. Now something became clear - why I was hitting falling or high house targets and not as well with low house targets except on post 2 and 3. On those two posts, with the wind being what it was, the birds were already falling when they came to my side of the field, and since my POI was below my aim point and I broke the falling birds.

Here I have patterned the two barrels to show what happened at 16 yards to my pattern. You can see why if I had what seemed to me to be a good sight picture with the bird I should have been hitting them hard - but was shooting under most of them.

Bottom Barrel

From my bottom barrel, you can see there are great gaping holes in any pattern above my point of aim! No wonder a target could get through. I need to adjust my mount to bring more of these pellets into the target zone. I thought maybe the upper barrel would be different. Here is the upper barrel.

A little better - and in fact my second shots seemed to be "a little better" as well.

What Are You Doing?


When did you last pattern your shotgun or check your POI? It takes moments and the results can be powerful. Improving your game takes knowledge - and this is a piece of that knowledge. When you pattern your gun or check POI vs. Point of Aim, POA, tack up some paper and shoot it at least 3 times with the same ammunition you intend to compete with or hunt with.

The same ammunition is very important as all ammunition doesn't shoot the same. All loads aren't the same, all wads aren't the same. Do this again if you plan to use Remington Super handicap for your trap shooting and Gun Club target loads for your skeet loads. You may actually see significant differences in POI.

I hope this is helpful and you gain a target from this kind of discussion. Please feel free to leave comments - and visit my advertisers on these pages.

The Inventurist

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