Last October I went upland bird hunting for the first time. I enjoyed being out there with some incredible dogs but didn't pose much of a threat to anything in the air with a borrowed Benelli shotgun. I've often thought about buying a nice over & under and after last year's experience I ordered a Citori 725 Field 12 gauge with 28" barrels. The shotgun will be here next week and I plan on shooting sporting clays at a club about an hour away to prepare for hunting season. So now to my questions. I've read that #6 shot is ideal for pheasant but there seems to be a dizzying array of choices. I'd like to buy some practice loads (cheaper) that will allow me to develop some competence while preparing me for a similar shooting experience using "premium" ammunition in the field. Can someone point me in the right direction? Would I be better served with 2-3/4" or 3" loads? Is sporting clays the best way to prepare for pheasants? When I pattern the shotgun, what distance should I use? I'm very new to the world of hunting shotguns so appreciate any help or advice.