One Choke For All?

Hi Bruce;

A question – I think sometime in the past you, or another sage shotgun philosopher opined that a skeet choke(.005) would suffice for 90% of the shots offered on US sporting clays courses. Given the influence of the many ex-pat Brit instructors in the country, and their target setting preferences i.e. long crossers, do you still support that statement? If you don’t, what single choke constriction would you now suggest?

Thank You,


Dear Shep,

It might have been some other pundit who recommended .005″ Skeet for 90% of the shots on an American course, but I don’t think it was me. I’ve pretty much always recommended three chokes for near, normal and far shots. .000″ Cylinder to .005″ skeet for the near stuff. .015″ Light Modified or there abouts for the normal 25~35 yard shot that we see the most of and .030″ Imp Mod or .035″ Full for the shots over 35 yards. I ‘d also recommend using #9s at skeet distance, #8s for the middling shots and #7-1/2s for the long stuff. In short, just do what trap and skeet shooters have been doing for 75 years. They have it all figured out by now. Then use #8s and Lt. Mod in between. Naturally, you have to modify these recommendations by the type, size and presentation of the particular target. An edge-on going away rabbit usually requires max choke and pellet size, even when it’s inside 30 yards. But you knew that.

Single choke constriction for SC? For fairly long shots, so I’d use a .015″ Light Mod and a selection of shells if there was some kind of law that I wasn’t allowed to change chokes. But there isn’t so I don’t.

The problem of the “one choke” stuff is that courses can vary so very much. I recently did OK shooting an entire woods course with Cylinder Bore and 1-1/8 oz of #8s. Other times, I’ve shot an entire course without ever using that choke. Courses just vary too much to make blanket statements.

Trap and skeet shooters know exactly what chokes and shot sizes work for their disciplines because their games never change. SC shooters usually don’t have a clue because no one ever sees enough of exactly the same bird to shoot it a million billion times and know for sure what is optimal. You can absolutely, positively break a 50 yard crosser with skeet choke and #9s if you get it dead in the center. That certainly doesn’t mean that’s the ideal choke for that presentation. A bucket full of #7-1/2s and all the choke you own is the way to handle that bird. The fact that less choke and pellet will break it some of the time merely means that the shooter hasn’t gone to school on that particular target long enough to know what is optimal. So many sporting clays misses are due to improper shooting and so few due to improper choke/shell that a lot of urban legends have arisen about what works. The fun thing is that we don’t shoot enough of any particular sporting clays target to be able to absolutely positively prove that any of these theories are wrong. It all makes for great clubhouse discussions.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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