Bipods and Shooting Sticks
Bipods and Shooting Sticks
I mentioned earlier that I like to use shooting sticks and bipods when in the field, as they permit me to quickly stabilize my gun from virtually whatever shooting position is required. And an advantage of using the devices rather than naturally occurring structure is that if you need to make an adjustment or move, you simply take them with you and reset. There are many variations on shooting sticks and bipods available on the market, and following will be a brief review of those that I have used. Shooting sticks come in three general configurations; a single stick with a rest, two sticks which cross up high where the shooter can hold the joint for stability, and the same configuration as the latter, only with three sticks. The sticks are often two or three piece so that they can be broken down when not in use. My current favorite is a single stick manufactured by Cabellas which is a telescoping pole. The rest is a padded “V” shape that fits almost any gun. This is the least stable of the sticks but is very fast to deploy from just about any shooting position; I’ve used it while standing, kneeling, and sitting. If in a prone position my preference is to use my pack, as it gives much better stability. When stalking through the woods, or closing in on game I’ll normally deploy the shooting stick at the appropriate height for a standing shot before it’s needed, so as not to be fumbling with the stick when I should be concentrating on working my way into shooting position. I especially like this rig when hunting in the desert as there is very little natural structure to use as a support, and the desert brush is a height that often requires the shot to be taken at thirty five or forty yards from a standing position. Double and triple stick models work in much the same way, however are a bit more cumbersome to set up and not as portable if you need to shift position.
The single telescoping shooting stick is not as stable as a bipod, but very fast to deploy and a lot better than offhand shooting
Bipods are the other way to go if you need a portable rest from which to shoot. Most models, such as Rockchucks or Harris Bipods are telescoping models that usually snap onto the sling swivels and can be folded up when not use. Some guns such as the Talon SS have bipods built specifically for that gun. By the nature of the way these bipods are mounted to the gun, they are shorter than an unattached bipod shooting stick. These devices are used from a prone or perhaps sitting/kneeling if they are longer versions, but are of limited use if you will be shooting from a standing position. I often use bipods when hunting large game when hunting big game with firearms, as the shots are frequently at long range and from up on a ridge, from a prone position, or I have time to set up on a boulder or tree trunk which allows the bipod to be set up higher. But with small game the shoots tend to come up with less warning and closer range, not too mention the quarry is often higher than eye level. When hunting small game with airguns my preference is to use a shooting stick. However, for pest control where I have time to set up my shooting position will sometimes use a bipod instead. If practical in the context of shooting positions, the advantage of a bipod is that they are rock stable. A rig that I’ll sometimes use when shooting from a set location that I don’t plan to move from, is a camera bipod on which I’ve built a small shooting rest. Using this in conjunction with a folding camp chair, I can carry along a semi-portable bench rest which is especially useful for shooting pest found in large concentrations such as starlings or ground squirrels. This is also a great field rig for sighting in when you don’t want to carry a lot of gear along. Besides the many commercially available shooting sticks, you can build your own quite simply. Here's how you go about making them: Go down to the local hardware store and buy two one-half-inch hardwood dowels 30 inches to 46 inches long; 6 inches of one-half-inch surgical tubing; a 1-1/2 inch long 3/16-inch bolt; and a locknut with two washers to fit the bolt. Drill a hole 3 inches from the top of each dowel. Connect the sticks at the holes using the bolt, and slip a couple inches of tubing over each end closest to the joint. To use your bipod, slip the rifle's fore-end over the tubing and spread or close the legs until you find the most comfortable shooting height. You can get paints or camo tape to out a camouflage finish on the sticks, to improve their effectiveness under hunting conditions.