We Hunters love the total experience of the hunt from the planning and dreaming of finally living the adventure. Each new season quickens our spirit in anticipation. Whether alone or with close friends, wives, husbands or extended family, we love the outdoors and the wildlife we hunt. For us it’s our passion that only fellow hunters can truly understand and we create memories that last a lifetime. That passion for our hunting lifestyle drives us.
Let’s face it, after all the planning, anticipation and effort it really comes down to making that one shot when it really counts doesn’t it? Performing at our best when we may be tired, cold and hungry is everything. Steve Rinella of MeatEaters TV says if he’s wildly successful early in his hunt somehow he feels he hasn’t suffered enough yet! He feels he doesn’t deserve success that soon, and I sense on some level he doesn’t really want it to end either. I know we may be thinking, “I’ll take it”, and so will Steve.
The point is the satisfaction of overcoming adversity whenever it comes is everything, whether it happens on day one or ten. We painstakingly invest in the best equipment from our clothing to our firearms and optics. Technological advancements have transformed the way we’ve hunted in the past and today better hunting tools and equipment increase our success and enjoyment.
When it comes to making a difficult and accurate shot, the best shooting sticks are really critical.This is a tool that will help you hit your target as a beginner or improve your shooting no matter your experience. Most rifles today can group two inches or much less at 100 yards. We need to take advantage of that accuracy with practice and a solid field rest.
Making a difficult field shot can be tricky and often without much time to set up. Offhand shooting is really limited to close range shots in the practical world, mostly in cover. Close range is for you to judge ethically from your shooting ability. If we’re picking a number, let’s say generally within 50 to 75 yards. It’s likely much less if we’re out of breath from climbing and dealing with adrenaline. Everything else means we’re looking for a rest whether a close tree trunk, rock outcropping or even dropping prone on our packs. All this takes precious time we may not have and motion we can’t afford. Plus our visible shooting lane changes when we move and that’s assuming the game didn’t move. And what do we do if no natural rest is nearby and the vegetation won’t let us get close to the ground? Bottom line, we need a rest when and where we are at every moment we’re hunting. Since we can’t bring a benchrest, the only practical solution is shooting sticks.
Military planners think with a tactical mindset and we should too. To choose the best shooting stick we need to define the mission. What are we hunting, what’s the terrain, weather, vegetation and cover and what distances are we likely to shoot? Antelope hunting on the plains or whitetails in Kansas can mean a different shooting stick than moose hunting in lowlands, elk in the snowy mountains, muleys or sheep above timberline or calling coyotes in the desert. Stability, speed, convenience and weight all matter. Choosing which shooting sticks is no less important than choosing our rifle’s caliber and action, weight and bullet design. It’s all about the best tool for the mission and building your confidence.
In general three rules apply that increase your stability and effective shooting range in any situation:
The closer to the ground the more stable with or without a shooting rest. That means shooting prone is more steady and inherently accurate than is sitting than is kneeling or lastly standing. Always shoot from the steadiest position from which you can see the target.
The more legs your rest has the more solid your shooting stance. This means tripods provide more stability and range than bipods than do monopods.
Always create triangles with your body stance with or without a rest using the major bones and muscles of your body.
Stay in your natural point of aim. This is a subject unto itself, but basically means remain comfortable in every shooting position. Slow down and breathe and don’t reach in any direction unnaturally. You’ll tense your muscles trying to hold that tough position and your mind will start doubting your shot. Your chances of making that shot will plummet.
Put yourself in the best position to succeed with the right tools for the mission. Be confident and enjoy every minute out there. Always remember the best shooting sticks in each category must provide solid stability for the shooting position they’re designed to support and must be lightweight, fast, and easy to carry in the field. Any hunt in rough variable terrain often presents a wide range of shooting positions moment by moment that demand a less specialized and more versatile rest. Shooting sticks we tend to leave back in camp or in our truck won’t do us any good when we need them most.
So let’s look at various shooting stick styles and designs and the advantages and tradeoffs of each with the mission in mind…
Attached bipods are the most popular rifle mounted rests and have been used for many decades by precision rifle shooters and the military. Their specialty shooting position is prone and some with leg extensions can be set up to shoot kneeling and sometimes sitting. They are always with you attached to your rifle, quick to deploy, lightweight and very durable. Some have flexible mounts that allow some splaying and lateral motion for sight adjustment. The downside is their limited shooting positions in various terrain and they change the rifle’s balance and can catch on brush in the field. Hunters find them very mission specific, but they provide a rock solid rest for long range shooting. Harris and Atlas Bipods are good examples of popular attached bipods.
Attached tripods have become more popular in recent years with competition shooters, military snipers and stationary hunters. They can be set up for sitting to standing and provide a solid foundation for long range work, but are heavy and not very portable. They are very mission specific in hunting situations for basically stationary set ups, but offer extreme stability. Many have wide panning capabilities even up to 360 degrees but of course the hunter needs to rotate also creating motion. Really Right Stuff (RRS) offers one of the most popular rifle attached tripods.
Portable shooting sticks such a bipods, tripods and monopods are by far the most popular hunting shooting rests for short to long range. Each are offered in various lengths from standing to sitting and are offered by many manufacturers.
The simplest shooting sticks are dedicated for one length and height is adjusted by splaying the legs wider or tilting them forward or back. Some have tent pole style bungee cord joints to fold up compactly to travel.
More advanced designs have telescoping lever/twist lock legs for height adjustment from standing to kneeling and occasionally sitting. They aren’t usually as compact or lightweight as fixed length, but allow you to shoot standing where the shorter sticks cannot and still support kneeling and sometimes sitting.
Many hunts are in varied terrain and we need the most versatile shooting sticks that can support more shooting positions from standing to sitting with the same tool. That means only bipods, tripods or monopods with telescoping lever/twist lock legs or a rest that rides on the legs like rails will give us this advantage.
Additionally the ability to adjust height and shift targets quickly with little body movement and stay in our natural point of aim can make all the difference.
We know of only two shooting sticks that can be controlled with one hand for quick adjustment without lever/twist locks. One is telescoping and the other rest rides on the legs like rails.
Trigger Stick’s telescoping legs are controlled by squeezing a trigger allowing the legs to telescope freely to adjust height and some left to right motion. Releasing the trigger sets the position.This is a significant improvement in speed, convenience and limiting body movement. They are available in monopod, bipod or tripod models in various heights from kneeling to standing.
STEALTHPOD X are new, innovative shooting sticks that ride on the legs like rails and are button controlled for instant adjustment from standing all the way to prone. These shooting sticks cover a wide field of fire left to right and vertically from one ground position while swinging your rifle naturally, even on moving game. They are available in monopod, bipod or tripod and the legs can be shortened in the field so there’s no need to buy various heights. In fact, the modular STEALTHPOD X Complete System converts in the field from monopod to bipod to tripod in minutes and only weighs 3 pounds with a 23 inch travel bag. Plus the bipod doubles as two carbide tipped, wrist strapped rugged trekking poles as a bonus.
So always think tactically and invest your time and effort in the best shooting sticks for your mission.