Shotgun Pattern Board

Every serious shotgunner is going to need to pattern their weapon.  And not just once, for each shell, choke and species.  It takes testing to tune a choke and load for each. It gets to be a pain in the ass to carry around makeshift boards or using sticks in the ground to support paper.  I’ll be using this to pattern my shotgun for four different loads.

A dove load, a turkey load, a waterfowl load and for The Greatest 20ga Buckshot Test Ever.  I’m also going to be doing some testing of Federal Heavyweight 15g/cc shot as well as Tungsten Super Shot which is 18g/cc. I’ll write dedicated posts about each of these.  I’m also going to post a shotgun patterning article separate from this how to post.

This post is going to explain my design for a pattern board.  It is just something I threw together using scraps from a jobsite.  I looked at a few pictures and came up with a design that met my criteria.  This is version 1.0 and I may decide to make improvements later down the road.  It can be assembled in 30 minutes and should be very cheap even if you have to buy new materials.  Probably for less than $30. You might be able to find some wood scraps in a construction dumpster.  

It’s built from standard 2×4 construction, with a little plywood to support the paper.  The board is designed to use 36” red rosin paper available at your local home goods store.  The target will be 36×48. This way you can get the entire pattern on paper. It can help diagnose point of impact changes, or just different from the bead.  It can help to tune your shotgun fit to your body as well. Another topic I will make an in depth post on by itself.

This pattern board will have removable feet to make it portable and to aid in storage.  This way it can be broken down to transport. The upright section is going to slide into the feet for use.  The roll of paper will be cradled behind and will feed up from the bottom and will be spring clamped at the top.  The lower piece of plywood will be a backer so you can cut the paper off with a razor knife.

You’re going to need

  • 5, 2x4x8 studs as the home store will call them.  From them you will cut 2, 4’ feet, 2, 5’ uprights and 2, 3’ cross bars.  You will also need to get an extra for the 8, 4” spacer blocks for the feet. Hopefully you have a piece of scrap or you can get a shorter board like 6’ from the store.  You will also need 2 rips of plywood 39”x6”, and 1 piece 39”x24”. Lastly, you’ll need two 6” x8″ pieces of plywood to cradle the roll of paper.

Cut List

  • (4), 4′ 2×4
  • (2), 5′ 2×4
  • (2), 37″ 2×4
  • (8), 4″ 2×4
  • (2), 6″x40″ 3/4″ ply
  • (1), 24″x40″ 3/4″ ply
  • (2), 6″x8″ 3/4″ ply

Assembly will be with any 3” wood screw.  2 per joint will be more than sufficient. The plywood will be attached with 2” screws.  They are longer than needed but don’t strip threads as easy as the 1 ½”.

Follow along as I assemble, and stay tuned as I get some shot on paper in future posts.

The raw materials, all precut


Setting the blocks that will hold the uprights.  Use a spare block to set the width.  Leave 1/8″ extra width.
The spacer blocks set on one of the feet.  Note my two drills.  One has a drill bit for predrilling.  This will eliminate splitting


The feet completed.  
These are what hold the roll of paper. They are made from 6″x8″ 3/4″ ply.  I used a 2″ holesaw to make the slots.  You could use a jig saw or a band saw.
The hoop for the upright.  The bottom bar needs to be 3 1/2″ up from the bottoms.
The upright completed.  Note the 1″ slot at the bottom.  The paper will feed in from here.
A 2″ lip on top.  We will use a spring clamp or two to clamp the paper.
Complete pattern board.  I will update when I get the paper and pipe.

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