Shooting for All
Russ Douglas finds a couple of ‘stable’ mates to make his life easier
I’m always on the lookout for kit to help me as a disabled shooter, and I saw a brochure photo of the ‘MTM High-Low’ heightadjustable, bench-rest table a month or so in the shooting media, accompanying an article on a German Gun Fair. One ongoing issue I have with bench-rest shooting – i.e. stable shooting to control variables and seeing which pellets produce the tightest groups in a particular rifle – is not being at rest. The problem is adjusting myself to hunch down over a fixed table, which I find very uncomfortable. I’m never sure whether to be jealous, or cringe in back-related sympathy when I see my fellow shooters adopting such a position at the range.
Last night’s last range review session was another example of me overdoing it. I got there early to give me time to set up the High-Low table for my fellow club members to offer feedback, and then moved a few lanes along to complete my chrono’ and group testing on the SIG P320. The problem with arriving early is that there are no friends handy to help me to unload the car, so four trips up and down the stairs later, I was set up, but dreading the aches pains the next day.
I’d contacted the US suppliers, MTM, and from their website was redirected to John Rothery Wholesale where the ever-reliable Claire explained that the first batch wasn’t due in this country for several weeks, so I had to be patient – very reluctantly.
Once I received the kit, it was very simple to unpack the monster box: a lightweight (4kg) alloy survey tripod, and hard-plastic, benchrest table (1.6kg), with a non-slip upper surface and raised edges. I was a dimensional control/engineering surveyor in a former career, so have trekked up many a hill and down numerous dales, as well as over numerous oil rigs whilst carrying a standard survey tripod, or three, so the adjustable part of this kit was instantly familiar.
Each tripod leg has a wingnut-style bolt to tighten/secure it, as well as a quick-release lever for rapid adjustments. The table fits into the recess atop the tripod, and secures with the central handle. Once in place, fine-tune the orientation/height by moving the tripod feet, or adjusting the individual leg lengths. Ignore the option to hang a stabilising weight from the hook on the handle, it’s a paper clip for suspending plumb bobs over survey pegs.
The tripod is naturally most at home with the legs pressed into the ground, and is rock-solid once this is done.
Instructions can be found on two stickers, on the underside of the textured plastic shooting table itself. They explain that the tripod legs must only be used on soft ground, and not on
“I was set up, but dreading the aches and pains the next day”
a hard surface because there’s nothing to prevent the feet sliding. From experience, I’d suggest that an improvised ‘spider’ – as it’s known in the survey world – could be used here. That’s a three-legged strap or chain linking the feet, to prevent the legs from
splaying out accidentally. Providing one of these is used, I’d say that the tripod/table is perfectly stable on a hard surface, and all four friends who tried it with their rifles last night agreed with me. Thanks to Bri, Alec, John and Tony for your feedback and thumbs-up.
Please note that the table is not intended to be leaned upon, but purely to hold the rifle, although you naturally rest upon or against it to a certain degree. Also, if intended for long-term static use, you could perhaps substitute the lightweight, portable tripod with a heavier, commercially available survey tripod. This would be less portable – they can weigh 10kg-plus – as well as more expensive to source. The female connection underneath the table appears to be a standard 7/8” Whitworth survey instrument, imperial thread, so any UK survey tripod should also fit the table.
1. Bench-testing: Wherever you may be, you have the knowledge that you can fine-tune your bench-rest to match you, not the often uncomfortable other way around. There’s plenty of room on the table for magazines, pellets and notebooks, perhaps also a compact chrono’ like the R2A from BAR. This table could be used all day, adjusted to suit a relaxed shooter.
2. Field-work: Used within a static hide, I can absolutely see this table providing a stable rest for an extended vermin-shooting session. The downside would be that the alloy tripod is slightly noisy to transport when slung over the shoulder, and the sling is on the short side. Plus, when seated, the table can be rotated, but this and your field of fire are limited by the manoeuvrability of your chosen seat.
I tested this table with a sporting rifle and a bullpup, off beanbag and bipod, on hard and soft surfaces, standing and seated, and it’s incredibly stable. Everyone who’s since tried it at the club has agreed with me on this. ‘Looks like an ironing board’, is the initial jokey reaction, then eyes widen and ‘Oh, it’s surprisingly stable’ is the repeated, instant follow-on feedback. It’s also symmetrical and so fully ambidextrous.
When standing to shoot targets at longer range, with my inner-right elbow hooked over one corner of the table, I did find that my pulse was causing the crosshairs to ‘jump’ rhythmically, and this shows how stable the set-up is otherwise, and it would not have been noticeable if I’d worn more than just a T-shirt.
Thanks to fellow GARC member, Craig, and smallbore shooter, Maria (a shooting coach: www.target-technique.co.uk) for kindly taking the photos for this article.
Special thanks to Claire at John Rothery Wholesalers for not only lending me the table, but also doing so for an extended period, to give it a thorough test – very much appreciated.
MTM High-Low shooting table and Caldwell bench rest bags RRP £169.95/£39.95 respectively: John Rothery Wholesalers.
Oh, yes please! That’s so much more comfortable.
Lugging this lot around was ‘fun’, the tripod sling is also short.
American-sourced kit, so covered in disclaimers.
Crosshairs steady at 40m.
Tensioner nut for the quick-release.
A DIY ‘spider’ sorted the legs for hard surface use.