Does steel shot affect lead distance when goose hunting?

Does Steel Shot Affect Lead Distance When Goose Hunting?


The Question

Hi Ken:

I have a question about using steel shot for geese. With so many different fps speeds available (for ex. Remington at 1700 fps, Winchester Blind Side at 1400 fps, Federal Premium’s Black Cloud at 1500 fps and others at 1625 fps), how do you know how to lead the goose? Our shots average 25 to 35 yards. We like to try different brands, and sometimes we can’t always use the same shells all season, depending on what’s left in stores.



Shawn Sigurdson

The Answer

You’ve asked the million-dollar question, one we’ve all asked over the years: How much lead do I need to effectively shoot a duck or goose at any given distance? Well, the answer is not simple, since so many variables contribute to the amount of lead required. Is the bird flying perpendicular to you, straight towards you or on an angle towards or away from you? How fast is the bird flying? Are you shooting sustained lead or swing through?


While the speed of your shot is another variable, it is not one that will make or break your shooting accuracy. At 30 yards, the difference in flight time between a 1400 fps load and a 1750 fps load is measured in hundredths of a second. Sometimes when we’re not shooting well and can’t understand why, our tendency is to look at differences in load speed, but it’s almost never a contributing issue, especially at 30 yards. The problem is that when we start thinking about load speed, we overlook other variables that are influencing our shooting accuracy.

My advice, Shawn, is to ignore the differences in speed of the various loads and focus on a sure gun mount, smooth swings and complete follow through. When the fundamentals are strong, your percentage of hits goes way up.

Good luck, and I hope the rest of your season is a success.


Ken Bailey