Changing Chokes in the Field

I would twirl the choke in and out, setting it for the shot I expected next as I walked the fields. All it ever shot was Cylinder patterns. But I digress. It became possible to switch chokes in any gun. That said, I can’t ever remember switching chokes in the field, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do it, either. And, honestly, I keep the same tubes in most of my guns all the time: Light Modified patterns well with steel and tungsten-iron for waterfowl; Improved Cylinder kills doves near and far; and Improved Cylinder/Improved Modified gives me a first shot with a generous spread for flushing birds, followed by a tight barrel if I have to shoot again. Some people bring enough choke tubes that they clank on their way around the course, and switch constantly while others keep it simple. Bring two Skeet and two Modified chokes, he counsels. If it’s “close” use Skeet. If you don’t want to change chokes at all and you shoot an O/U, put a Skeet or IC choke in one barrel and Modified or IM in the other, and switch barrels as needed.
shooting skeet
Sporting clays, unlike hunting, is a situation where changing chokes on the fly may help you.

Back when I started hunting, my shotgun was an Auto 5 Light 12 that weighed a ton and had a vented Polychoke on the barrel. If you’re young and unfamiliar with the Polychoke, it was the shotgun equivalent of those adjustable hose nozzles that let you widen and narrow the spray with a turn of your wrist. I would twirl the choke in and out, setting it for the shot I expected next as I walked the fields. It didn’t really matter, because unbeknownst to me, the Polychoke had been twirled out so far that turning the collet didn’t make any difference. All it ever shot was Cylinder patterns.

If you can’t shoot very well in the first place, especially at longer ranges, and you’re carrying a 12 gauge that slings a lot of shot, a pure Cylinder choke is not the worst way to go. I killed a fair amount of game with that gun. But I digress.

Time passed, guns came and went, and interchangeable choke tubes become popular. It became possible to switch chokes in any gun. That said, I can’t ever remember switching chokes in the…

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