Smoothbore shooting

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Magungo1066

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I took my 20 gauge fowler out yesterday after having the lock fixed. Only the second time I have shot the gun. At around fifty yards my accuracy was abysmal. I could barely keep my shots in a "man" sized target. What are some tricks/tips/ learning curves to getting to where you can fire a smooth bore accurately?-Larry
 

Loyalist Dave

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A few things. Poor accuracy in a smoothbore is usually due to having inconsistency in where the ball sits within the muzzle. That's why the Bess was for more than a century considered "inaccurate". The military was using very undersized ball to allow for the buildup of crud due to the number of shots fired.

So what you want to work on is getting a consistent ball-in-the-barrel placement. One way..., you roll paper cartridges that hold the ball snug in the barrel. You have to make a "former" out of a wooden dowel and sand it down, so that when you wrap the paper around it, it just fits smoothly within the barrel. The ball must fit within the cartridge so that the cartridge doesn't flex outward, and the ball doesn't move about within. The base of this cartridge is flat, and that is the side with the ball within, that you ram down onto the powder. It's basically a paper "shot cup" and it also works for you with shot.

A second way is you get ball that is very close fitting to your bore, and try that loaded over a lubed, fiber wad, and held in place by tow, or a wad of paper, etc. IF that doesn't work for you then you get a wood rasp, and you roll that same close fitting ball between the rasp and a pine board. You want to raise a little bit of the lead on the surface of the ball. So you load powder, a wad of some sort, and then you will need to force the ball into the barrel because tiny bits of lead that you raised are now making the ball a tad too big. Your forcing the ball into the barrel swages some of that raised lead back down, and the ball is then custom fit to your barrel. Ram it down to the wad, and that should be a consistent shooting ball..., what sort of sight "hold" you need to use to hit the target, will be another factir, Some folks have reported good accuracy with loading a 1/2" wad, a bare ball, and a second 1/2" wad on top of the ball.

A third way of which I've heard, is to take an unlubed, 1/2" fiber wad, and locate the very center of the wad. You then take a large drill bit, and by hand, you create a shallow, concave dimple in the wad. Then you take a spot of something like rubber cement, and attach the ball to the dimple in the center of the wad. To load, after you drop in your powder, you ram down a lubed 1/2" wad (which will leave some lube on the walls of the barrel), followed by the ball-and-dry-wad assembly. This is then followed by something like tow, or a paper wad...., What this does is even if the ball isn't a good fit for your smoothbore, the dimple will center the ball and the glue keeps the ball from shifting when loading. Upon firing the mass of the ball compresses into the wad a tiny bit, but because of the pre-made dimple, the ball stays centered. The glue seam, however, gets fractured due to the jolt of firing, so that when the ball exits the muzzle, it is no longer glued to the wad. The trick is..., getting the dimple in the exact center. I suppose a tool could be fashioned to give you the center every time. I've yet to try this, but it would allow the use of a smaller ball that would equal higher muzzle velocity, and if you were using alloyed lead a bit lighter than pure lead, you'd get even better velocity. I've never tried this method, and..., I'm unsure which would be better..., loading the wad-ball assembly with the wad toward the powder, OR loading the wad-ball assembly with the ball toward the powder and the wad toward the muzzle, omitting the over wad or over shot card.

LD
 

tallpine

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50 yards with a smooth bore is pretty much the top end of the accuracy range. And this comes with much load tweeking and experimenting. You didn't say if you are shooting off hand or from a bench. Dave gave you some good advice, start at 25 yards off the bench, when you get it to group move it out to 50. Keeping them all in a paper plate at 50 yds would be a reasonable expectation for a smooth bore.
 

tenngun

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Do you have a rear sight? Most smoothies don’t. So your eye had to be the rear sight. That means when you shoulder the gun you have to be looking right down the center,
Some guys do it with a cheek weld, getting the cheek in to the same spot every time. Others might hav t gentle v cut at the breach. Or the tang screw slot aligned with the barrel.
It’s very important your not a 1/32 of an right left or high every time you look down your barrel.
It can be done with good eyes and practice.
I put a rear sight on my smoothies. The gun doesn’t shoot any better it’s just a lot easier for me to get on target and consistent.
 

tenngun

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50 yards with a smooth bore is pretty much the top end of the accuracy range. And this comes with much load tweeking and experimenting. You didn't say if you are shooting off hand or from a bench. Dave gave you some good advice, start at 25 yards off the bench, when you get it to group move it out to 50. Keeping them all in a paper plate at 50 yds would be a reasonable expectation for a smooth bore.
My TFC at 50 yards, with a Lancaster rear sight added. PRB on right. Left is tow wad at 25. Before I added a rear sight I was a little looser.
Some folks get near as good or better at longer ranges with smoothies at a hundred yards. I don’t, and would never hunt beyond fifty..... except at revanuers 04679F75-DD8A-4A56-9F56-C430E04D1774.jpeg
 

smo

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As stated start out closer, find a comfortable hold position, that’s repeatable.
Then shoot a lot! It’ll all work it’s self out..
As a Friend always tells me.... This sport rewards practice.
 

tallpine

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Good shooting Tenngun, Your targets are a perfect example of what the capability of a smoothbore is @ 50 yards. I too have shot some tight groups @ 100 yards but for me to do it consistently has not possible. I have taken whitetail with my smooth bore and accept its limitations, it's a 50 yard gun.
 

Brokennock

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I took my 20 gauge fowler out yesterday after having the lock fixed. Only the second time I have shot the gun. At around fifty yards my accuracy was abysmal. I could barely keep my shots in a "man" sized target. What are some tricks/tips/ learning curves to getting to where you can fire a smooth bore accurately?-Larry
Lots of good tips so far. But, we need more info. Were you shooting off a bench? How was accuracy at 25 yards? What was your load?

Are you still in CT. or have you headed back to school. If you're still here in CT. and have a place we can both go to shoot, I can bring some load components and we can work on it. I probably won't shoot, but still would try to help you out. I injured my shoulder and will need some time off form shooting for probably a few weeks.
 

Rich

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.600 or .610 ball with an .015 to .018 patch should do the trick. Just make sure your mounting the gun and have the exact same sight picture.
 

Leadball loader

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I am still learning to shoot my FDC 20 ga. and I am just starting to get consistent. It has taken two years and not going more than a few weeks without shooting. I do better when I shoot weekly. It has taken some time to find my sight picture and cheek weld but I see progress.
My goal has been to shoot close to P C methods so I use 2f for prime and charge with a fire retardant treated wadding of newspaper over powder a dab of crisco grease .610 ball and a newspaper wad rammed as a unit. This loads very nicely without a lot of force time after time. I do not have to wipe between shots and I am getting better at shorter yardage off hand.
Practice practice practice is the only way to develop consistent loading, sighting and shot placement.
Hope you can have as much fun learning as I have.
LBL
 

Magungo1066

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Lots of good tips so far. But, we need more info. Were you shooting off a bench? How was accuracy at 25 yards? What was your load?

Are you still in CT. or have you headed back to school. If you're still here in CT. and have a place we can both go to shoot, I can bring some load components and we can work on it. I probably won't shoot, but still would try to help you out. I injured my shoulder and will need some time off form shooting for probably a few weeks.
Would love to shoot sometime! I am still in CT. and I was shooting sitting down but not with a rest so I certainly need to use that next time. My load was a .600 ball with tow wadding over 80g 3f
 

Roughneck

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I think shooting a smoothbore well takes awhile to learn your hold and how much barrel you see at each distance. it takes awhile to figure that out. if you can get that down consistently then you can shoot it well. I use to shoot smoothbore a lot and that is what I have found also none of mine have rear sights. I shot mine at a match a couple weekends ago and was hitting steel plates at 100 yards and I haven't shot that particular smoothie in a few months. I also shoot a .600 or .610 ball with thick patch usually either .018 or .020 pillow ticking and 60 grains of 2F.
 
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EC121

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I shot this group the other day using my 20ga. Klein fowler. Mostly blind luck. 50yds off hand. Pulled a load out of the air. .595 ball, heavy patch, and 85gr. 2F. Barrel got hot and heat waves made the horizontal dispersion. Because it was hitting low, I am experimenting with a peep sight on the tang screw.
P_20200616_161022.jpg
 

Runewolf1973

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I was out on July 4th with my NW Trade Gun and shooting at an 18" pizza pan at about 30 yards. I got most shots within about a 10" group, but that was shooting bare ball with crumpled newspaper wadding. It was also only my second time ever shooting that gun or any smoothbore with no rear sights for that matter.

 

hanshi

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It didn't take me long at all to come up with a very good prb load and a fairly good bare ball load. I know I can kill a deer up to 50 yards and that's what I shoot. "Could" possibly do okay farther out but 50 yards is farthest I've even tried. I varied the load with charges up to 100 grains of 2F and 90 grains of 3F and noticed little, if any, improvement.
 
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