Regardless of whether you’re shooting a shotgun, rifle, or a bow knowing your effective range is essential before you head out into the field to go hunting.

As turkey season is quickly approaching, I highly recommend that all turkey hunters hit the range before heading out to the field.  Not only does this help people prepare for the season, but it also allows the shooter to check over their gear and understand where they need to hold at various distances.

With the advancement of ammunition over the years, it’s truly unbelievable how well turkey ammo performs.  Never the less, it’s imperative to understand your maximum effective range.

My suggestion is for each and every person to take their gear to the range before heading out and shoot their shotgun every 10-yards from 20-70 yards.  This will not only show what your pattern looks like at those ranges, but also where your shots should stop.

This year I’m shooting a 12-gauge Winchester topped off with an EOTech holographic sight.  As far as ammunition goes, I’ll be shooting the Winchester LongBeard XR 3 1/2” in 5-shot.  I spent time at the range before the Mississippi season and the results were truly stunning.  One of the reasons the LongBeard XR is so effective has to do with the ShotLok technology that helps hold shot together for much longer distances protecting the shot during in-bore acceleration.  You also get the benefits of a heavier load at a fraction of the cost which is good for everyone!

One easy tip I always recommend is if you’re debating between various loads and chokes be certain to check out the Winchester Pattern Board App where you can compare turkey loads right on your phone or tablet and determine which would be best for your setup.  This is a fun tool to play around with, but can also be effective in narrowing down your options before hitting the range.  In the end, the most important thing to do is hit the range and shoot your gun so you know exactly what kind of patterns to expect…leaving no excuses when a big gobbler comes in range!