In order to answer this question about the fastest way to get off an accurate first shot with shooting sticks or any rest, a whole lot of other questions immediately come to mind. How far away is the target? What’s our body position? How do we define an accurate shot? What’s the terrain? What do we really mean by fast? Can fast be relative to the degree of difficulty and mean more than just total elapsed time, as in fast under the circumstances? Since one key word here is accuracy though, the shot must be repeatable.
Let’s have some fun and just answer the question straight up without getting complicated. The fastest way to get off an accurate first shot from a standing position is simply to shoot offhand standing if the range is right.
I grew up hunting the northwoods of New England many decades ago where offhand shooting is an art. We called it jump shooting or snap shooting and my Vermont hunting buddy Lee was deadly to 70 yards with his open sighted Winchester .32 Special model 94 even on running whitetail deer. I mean really deadly, even if the deer was leaping over a logging road between patches of thick cover. I was envious.
One early morning in Maine while still hunting a buck and two does appeared walking slowly about 80 yards away through some small hemlocks. With no time to spare I instinctively threw up my 7mm scoped bolt action Remington 700 while flipping the safety off in one motion, slid the crosshairs low behind his shoulder and fired. Nothing, so I worked the bolt and fired again before he disappeared into the thick hemlocks. The does moved away and waited so I knew he was down. That ten point buck lay collapsed in mid stride with his neck wedged low in a maple crotch having moved only twenty feet. There was just one wound right where I had aimed and I was wondering how I completely missed that second shot. Only when we dressed him out did I find the second bullet hole in his hide almost touching the first. I’ve never been more satisfied with my shooting and often relive that morning. Sometimes instinct and long practice just take over in total focus. I figure I got that first shot off in three or four seconds flat!
Now let’s define things a little more. Back in 2012 Layne Simpson wrote an article in the November/December issue of RifleShooter magazine titled “The Great Rest Test”. Shooting sticks had really become popular. His goal was to test the best shooting sticks himself using seven different rest techniques to make a successful hit on a seven inch square target at 200 yards. He started in each case standing with a Ruger M77 slung over his shoulder loaded but with an empty chamber and the safety off. These are his average results in seconds for four successful attempts:
|Prone, with sling||9.77 Seconds|
|Sitting, with sling||10.05 Seconds|
|Prone, Harris folding bipod||10.17 Seconds|
|Standing, fixed bipod shooting sticks||11.03 Seconds|
|Sitting, Harris folding bipod||11.18 Seconds|
|Sitting, short bipod shooting sticks||13.3 Seconds|
|Prone, daypack||15.55 Seconds|
The first thing we notice is there is not a great deal of difference between all of them except the prone daypack which was over five seconds longer than the prone sling. That can be a long time in some hunting situations. As Layne states in his article:
“There are occasions when a hunter has all the time in the world to get off a shot, and a recent whitetail hunt in Kansas is a good example. I watched the buck for a good half hour before deciding to pull the trigger on my 6.5-284 Norma.
But there are also times where just a short delay in getting off a shot can mean going home empty handed.”
So obviously time is really important but time means nothing without accuracy. Let’s digest this a little further, shall we? The seven techniques tested included three prone, three sitting and one standing of which ironically both the fastest and slowest were prone. Layne states the daypack prone was slowest because:
“About half of the 15.55-second average went into unfastening and shedding the daypack and getting it into position on the ground.”
My experience bears this out.
We all know all things being equal, closest to the ground is more stable with or without shooting sticks. Yet we also know from personal hunting experience that we shoot prone least often. Hunter surveys show standing is the most popular position closely followed by kneeling or sitting, with prone dead last. This almost certainly has more to do with terrain and opportunity than equal choice. Also ironically, only one standing rest was tested because only a fixed or lever locking telescoping bipod was available back in 2012. Now we have other options with faster button and trigger controls.
Another insight gleaned from “The Great Rest Test” is the choice of shooting position as well as rest technique. We just said “shooting position has more to do with terrain and opportunity than equal choice”. Suppose the same rest supported all shooting positions and was the fastest to get off that first accurate shot and subsequent shots? Suppose we only needed to carry one rest and had the confidence to be ready for any shot?
The STEALTHPOD X shooting sticks were developed to do just that–be the fastest, best shooting sticks on the market. They can support all shooting positions from standing to prone and even convert from bipod to monopod to tripod in minutes to meet your strategy. Plus they’re rugged carbide tipped trekking poles as a bonus.
We duplicated “The Great Rest Test” using a STEALTHPOD X bipod with same ranges, target size, starting position, average successful attempts and shooting stance. Results are in seconds with the second column showing a more realistic hunting situation–cartridge chambered and safety on instead of empty chamber:
|Empty Chamber||Cartridge Chambered|
|Bipod, Standing||8 Seconds||6 Seconds|
|Bipod, Kneeling||9 Seconds||7 Seconds|
|Bipod, Sitting||10 Seconds||8 Seconds|
|Bipod, Prone||11 Seconds||9 Seconds|
The average times are better than “The Great Rest Test” and we know seconds can really count. Also there’s less variation between the various shooting stances. Even more valuable to a hunter, the same rest supports all these positions! In other words, one rest can support every shooting position and do it faster. You only need one rest with you to be ready for any shot and it sets up in any terrain no matter how gnarly. Plus you’ve got trekking poles to get you out and back.