American Hunter | Best Shooting Rests for Hunters
The sun was right over you and you could feel the weight on your shoulders. As if Namibia wasn’t dry enough amid one of the worst droughts in history, the day’s heat exacerbated the problem. We had followed the herd of wildebeest to the edge of the bush, crouched and used the sparse vegetation as a sieve until it ran out.
I waited patiently for our next step and watched a lone cloud release the few raindrops it possessed when Maré van der Merwe said to me in that hasty, purposeful whisper that professional hunters (PH) use, “The Taurus got along, he is 295 meters, take him. “Three soccer fields are neither an impossible shot nor a chip shot, but I had a good rifle and Maré carried a good set of shooting sticks.
Taking a quiet break in the hunting fields can be a problem, and constant calm is paramount to the shot. Offhand shooting is certainly a talent that requires constant practice, but offhand shooting is the least stable position I can think of. The Federal Trophy Bonded Tip 180 grit bullet from my .300 Holland & Holland Magnum was attached to this Hartebeest bull, but without this set of shooting sticks I would never have tried this shot.
At the distances we normally shoot here in the northeast, I didn’t see many deer hunters resting other than leaning against a tree or leaning against the railing of a homemade tree stand. A handful of people serious about woodchucks used a sandbag or some other type of impromptu break to improve accuracy, but that was about as far as it could go. Things have certainly changed and that has resulted in a complete line of products.
My first safari to South Africa in 2004 was my first advanced experience with the traditional three-legged shooting sticks. They were made of bamboo tied together with a piece of rubber tubing, and it took me a while to get used to them. Once I felt a bit naked without her, also here in the US. Of course, hunting in the wide-open Orange Free State of South Africa is much more similar to the spot-and-stalk hunting of the American West than the sit-and-shoot style used in the Northeast, but I also prefer to keep quiet and hunt like that as much as possible. My personal style of silent hunting involves the use of natural scraps – a tree, limb, log, rock, etc. – but I’ve also started to carry a kind of calm with me.
The bipod, either attached to the rifle or carried as a separate unit, is a common and effective means of holding the rifle in place. There are many types that are of different lengths and made of different materials. They can all be used in different ways, including shooting from the prone or sitting position – depending on the length of your legs – or the bipod can be used against a tree or branch. A bipod is light and useful; If the weight is minimal, it can be attached to a rifle without destroying the scales.
For hunting, I like the Spartan Javelin Pro Hunt Bipod; It consists of light carbon fiber and 7075 hard anodized aluminum and is carried by the weapon. The Pro Hunt can be attached quickly and easily using a simple but strong magnetic attachment. It can either be epoxy mounted in your shaft, or it can be installed in place of the forward pivot bolt (the device allows for a sling to be attached). The typical bipod – with spring-loaded, adjustable legs like the usual Harris model – is a little cheaper, but a little heavier and takes more time to attach and remove.
There are a number of different shooting sticks on the market, from monopods to two-legged sticks to African-style three-legged sticks. Many are quickly adjustable and can be used from a sitting or standing position. I like the Primos Trigger Sticks pause family as they come in all of the above configurations. They use a simple spring loaded trigger to adjust the height and offer a ton of versatility. The device has a threaded bolt in the Quick Detach yoke that makes it easy to switch between the mounting support and to quickly adjust it for use with a spotting scope, binoculars or a camera.
I’ve seen them act as a walking stick, and I’ve also seen them turn a near-impossible shot into a freezer full of venison. I like to take them with me to coyote hunt when I’m on the edge of long, open fields, and I see them more and more on many western hunts for mule deer, pronghorn and elk. There are many brands out there, like the Bog Great Divide tripod – which offers a lot of versatility – or the DeathGrip tripod which is wonderfully stable, if heavier, for longer recordings. If you want to experience the traditional African shooting sticks either as a primary system or in preparation for a safari, African Sporting Creations offers the Super Compact Shooting Sticks. Their robust construction enables even shooting. Each leg is made up of three sections that can be screwed together so that the height can be adjusted. They come in a travel bag and can be disassembled to put in your rifle case. They can even be personalized with your name if you wish.
While the traditional set of shooting sticks provides a resting point for the front of the gun while the shooter carries the rest of the weight, there are models that carry the rifle or shotgun both front and rear. These types of pauses are considerably heavier and cumbersome than the simpler bipods and tripods, but for a teen who may have trouble stabilizing the rifle for the shot, it can make all the difference, and it can be worth having one on the stand or off to the blind effort to bear.
“I don’t need this nonsense.” I’ve heard this phrase far too often. Well, I suppose you don’t need a scope or premium ammunition either, but both of them make humane killing a lot easier, and I think having a solid break is another important element of the equation for the shot. Whether you’re trying to keep your turkey shotgun steady for those endless moments while the tom carefully closes the distance from the shooting range, or trying to overcome the excitement of having the bull moose of your dreams in your crosshairs, some sort of rest makes all kinds of sense. Find the system that works for you and you will quickly get to a better shot.
Would you like to read more from Philip Massaro? Read the following articles:
• 5 reasons to learn how to reload ammunition
• • Why every hunter should have a rifle of the same caliber
• • An ode to the .375 H&H Magnum
• • An ode to the 1886 Winchester model
• • An ode to the Winchester Model 70
• • 6 ways to fine-tune your hunting rifle
• • Review: Heym Model 26B Double Rifle .45-70
• • 5 reasons the .300 wins. Mag. Rules the sleeping place
• • Bolt action rifles: Push-Feed vs. Controlled-Round-Feed
• • Area Magnification: How Much is Too Much?
• • A Hunters Guide To Staying Healthy During The Coronavirus Outbreak
• • Is walnut dead? Synthetic vs. wood stocks
• • Guns for the traveling hunter
• • Top 5 lever rifle cartridges
• • African game meat: what happens after the shot?
• • Top 5 underrated deer cartridges
• • Top 5 double rifle cartridges
• • Deer hunting: Were the good old days really that good?
• • Essential equipment for the traveling hunter
• • 4 reasons to hate the 6.5 Creedmoor
• • 4 ways to fine-tune your rifle in the off-season
• • Test: Savage Model 110 AccuFit System
• • Top 8 balls for African Plains Game
• • Review: Tikka T3X Lite
• • Top bear rifles and loads
• • 3 rifle cartridges to hunt the world
• • Why my cartridge is better than yours
• • Top 5 pistol hunting cartridges
• • An ode to the Ruger model 77
• • Top 5 hunting cartridges of the 21st. century
• • Top 5 Deer Bullets for 2018
• • An ode to the .30-30 Winchester
• • 5 reasons to book a spring bear hunt
• • An ode to the Ruger Mini 30
• • Boattail vs. Flat-Base Bullets
• • How to Build a Custom Rifle
• • Picking a cartridge for North America’s big game
• • Top 5 American hunting rifles
• • How to choose a buffalo rifle
• • An ode to the .223 Remington
• • Top 5 Coyote Cartridges
• • The ultimate long-range hunting cartridge
• • The largest whitetail cartridge ever designed
• • An ode to the Browning BAR
• • Top 5 bear balls
• • Do you really need a magnum cartridge?
• • Why the Ruger # 1 is not # 2
• • Top 10 mythical game types
• • Top 5 Monometal Soft Point Balls
• • Top 5 Subsonic .22 Long Rifle Loads
• • The most American rifle cartridge
• • Tips for the traveling hunter
• • How to choose a gun safe
• • Best gun cases for the traveling hunter
• • An ode to the .30-06 Springfield
• • Top 5 Boutique Bullet Companies
• • Top 5 .22 Long Gunloads
• • 5 reasons round-nose balls are still cool
• • Top 5 dangerous game loads
• • Top 5 Turkey Loads
• • 5 rifle cartridges that need a comeback
• • Top 5 Safari calibers
• • 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Hunters
• • What your favorite rifle cartridge says about you
• • America’s Most Wanted Cartridges
• • America’s Weirdest Game Laws
• • What Your Favorite Rifle Cartridge Says About You, Part II
• • Top 5 overrated rifle cartridges
• • Top 5 underrated rifle cartridges
• • 5 reasons to load your ammunition by hand
• • 5 cartridges you might not know about
• • Top 5 Wildcat cartridges
• • An ode to the Ruger Mini-14
• • Top 5 pig loads
• • Why .30-30 Winchester will never die