Leads Vs Speed

Dear Bruce,

I’ve been using a Federal Gold Medal reload w/ Clays powder for 1oz loads @ 1125fps for skeet. Soft shooting & good patterns for me over the stake. Has anyone used a similar load w/ 7 1/2s for longer sporting targets (35 – 50yds) with success?

Seems like many factory loads in various brands launch @ 1200 or hotter. Does the extra speed mean that much at longer distances vis-a-vis perceived lead?



Dear Kevin,

Discussing lead is like discussing beans or no-beans chili. It gets real personal. Obviously, the faster the pellet leaves the barrel, the less lead you will need. This actual mathematical lead, not perceived lead. Perceived lead is another subject entirely and depends more on the style of shooting (muzzle speed) than on anything else.

The important thing to remember about leads isn’t that the length of the lead itself is all that important. It’s what you get used to that counts. If you are used to a shell speed which generates a certain lead, then changing to a faster or slower shell will throw you off slightly. Personally, I try to load everything to 1200 fps or close to it. This way, whether I am fooling around with light or heavy loads of shot, I know that the lead never changes. After shooting shells of a certain speed, your on board computer gets used to the leads required.

Real mathematical lead is simply a matter of crushing numbers. Naturally, I keep them all in my head. Not! Most of the stuff is in Lyman’s “Shotshell Reloading Handbook, 4th edition”. Just look up the time of flight to distance number for your particular pellet, distance and muzzle velocity and work the number against a 35 mph 90 degree crosser.

Example: a 1200 fps #7-1/2 pellet takes .139 seconds to go 40 yards. In that amount of time a target traveling 35 mph will have gone 7.1 feet. Lower your muzzle velocity to 1135 fps and the tables say that those pellets now take .145 seconds to go that 40 yards. A little calculation shows that the target will travel 7.4 feet in that time. This means that when you increase your speed from 1135 fps to 1200 fps, you will have to decrease your lead by .3 feet or 3.6 inches. In the total scheme of things, this amount of lead at that distance is going to be pretty hard to see with the naked eye.

If you pumped that shell up to 1330 fps, your time to distance would be .129 and you lead would be 6.6 feet, .8 feet or about 10″ less than the lead with a 1135 load. Ten inches probably does matter.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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