STATEMENT ON NON TOXIC SHOT
The shooting organisations that many of us subscribe to in
order to keep us shooting in the UK have made a very bold move in asking us, the
shooters of the UK to voluntarily move towards using non-toxic shot in taking
game birds (including pigeons) over the next five years. At present, THIS DOES
NOT CONSTITUTE A BAN on using lead but is offering us the opportunity to do the
right thing on a voluntary basis.
The cartridge manufacturers have stated that they feel
that this timescale is too ambitious based on the current technologies in our
very small industry and we suspect that they might be right, however this should
not be used as an excuse to do nothing, we shooters need to be in the driving
seat and we need to push for this to happen during the 20's. Ignorance is no
longer an excuse!
what type of steel shot you can use in your shotgun. Check the proof marks on your barrels.
High performance steel shot cartridges should be marked as such on the box and on the cartridge. The shot size (pellets) will most likely be larger than number 4 (3.1mm) and the load heavier than 32g. Small shot high performance steel cartridges are likely to be produced in the future so checking the markings on the box and the cartridge is a positive habit to adopt before shooting. What chokes you can use depends on the size of the shot and if you use multi chokes. You can check with a gunsmith if your chokes are suitable. If in doubt do not use any more than half choke. For 10 and 12 bores you should not use shot larger than BB in a choke tighter than half. For 16 and 20 bore you should not use shot of size 3 or larger in choke tighter than a half.
Standard steel shot will be smaller in shot size (pellets) than British number 3 (3.25mm) and may be used through any choke. For traditional light weight game guns the British Proof Authorities recommend no more than a quarter choke.
When choosing a steel shot cartridge, you should increase the shot size by at least two sizes. If you normally use lead no 6 shot (2.6mm), you should go up to steel no 4 (3.1mm). The tighter patterns of steel shot will compensate for the loss in total numbers of shot and so there is no need to increase load weight.
Steel shot patterns tighter than lead. Steel shot through a half choke patterns more like lead shot through a full choke so consider opening up the choke you use. You may find that when you fire steel through a choke greater than half the pattern begins to widen again – but you won’t know without a visit to a pattern plate. If your gun has fixed chokes they can be opened up by a gunsmith. You should consider having your gun re-proofed after this is done.
Practice on clays. Studies in the field have found that those who shoot cannot tell if they are using steel or lead shot. When changing cartridges you should always pattern your gun / cartridge combination and practice on clay targets. This will help you get the best out of steel cartridges when you shoot live quarry.