Can I use 28g no. 7 cartridges for pigeon shooting?

Q: I’ve just got into real pigeon shooting after years of tackling the clay variety. I have thousands of 28g no.7½s in the gunroom. Can I use these or do I need a specific shell?

ANDY CROW replies: I get asked this fairly regularly. I know a lot of people that do use clay loads and an ounce of 7½s will certainly kill pigeons at close ranges. However, pigeons are well feathered and can be pretty tough to kill, and as range increases, so kinetic energy becomes an issue with the smaller pellets.

I like to use 30 or 32g no.6s for close-range shooting and up to a 32 or 34g no.5 for longer shots. In my view, you are best off having the right tool for the job, and just because a pigeon is a pest species, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also ensure that we kill them as humanely as we can.