Fill a beanbag, mess free - Russ Douglas tells us how.
Whilst sourcing the new MTM High-Low shooting table (see page 56 of this issue), I wanted to give it a thorough test; to try it on grass, as the designers intended, and a hard surface – cue the somewhat Heath Robinson use of a length of chain as a safety ‘spider’. I also wanted to try it with two styles of rifle, plus shooting from bench-rest beanbags as well as an adjustable bipod.
The very helpful Claire, at John Rothery Wholesalers, sent through their unfilled Caldwell Ballistic ‘Dead Shot’ shooting bags on loan, to accompany the MTM High-Low table. These bags are very sturdily built from bold green nylon/cordura material, with a softer black suede-like covering for the stockcradling surface on the larger bag. The smaller rear bag also has a plastic carabiner clip to attach to a rucksack or belt – very handy.
FIND THE FILLING
The next job was sourcing fill. I’m ever-aware of my temperamental and fragile back, and didn’t want to hurt it further by lugging heavy kit about so I wandered into my local Hobbycraft on my lunch-break and bought a 0.5 cu.ft bag of polystyrene beads. These are perfect to allow adjustment whilst targeting, without weighing a ton. I reckon the bag took a couple of litres of beads to fill, in the end, but a word of warning here; the beads cling by static and get EVERYWHERE, so it’s best to use a large diameter funnel, and take it slowly.
For the bunny-ears-shaped, rear bench rest bag I looked at the smaller beads and decided to source something heavier. Whilst chatting to Mike, at the local ‘Montrose Guns & Tackle’ I’d been warned off using sand, which would be too heavy anyway, and plastic hobby/craft beads proved prohibitively expensive.
An online search found a 1kg bag of small, plastic, misshapen beads, which I felt would weight down the rear bag, and once that was full – using approximately three-quarters of a kilo – I added the leftovers to the larger bag, to add a little weight to the polystyrene primary fill.
There’s a very secure Velcro-sealed flap on both bags, and once opened, a plastic funnel that I found under the sink and sourced from a pound shop, proved the perfect device for filling the small bag. Repeated shaking and squeezing got the fill into all the nooks and crannies, resulting in a very sturdy rest. There’s also a mesh window enabling you to see the fill approaching the top.
For the larger bag’s bulkier polystyrene beads, I jury-rigged a larger funnel, from a cardboard cereal box, opened out and formed into a cone. Try as I might, I couldn’t prevent some of the lightweight beads from spilling out everywhere, so I suggest a larger diameter cone – pound shops are your friends here. Duct tape proved to be a godsend when it came to picking up the stray beads, and there were none left on our lounge carpet. Ahem, writer’s licence used here.
Shake the bags to ensure that no beads are caught in the flap, before sealing each with the Velcro and folding over to secure.
“you can simply move the bags around on your chosen bench-rest table”
At the range, whilst shooting, you can simply move the bags around on your chosen bench-rest table. Slide the rear bag forward/ backward below the angle of your shoulder stock’s underside, to get the sighting elevation roughly, and then gently squeeze the lighter front bag to fine-tune the target within the crosshairs – job done!
After prolonged testing, I found that the polystyrene beads in the front bag had compacted slightly, but there’s still plenty left in the bag – providing I find a mess-free way of getting them in there, of course. I
I hoped this wouldn’t be messy.
Gauze status window and secure Velcro flap.
Slide bead bag for rough aiming.
Squeeze front bag to fine-tune aim.
Aftermath – thank goodness for duct tape!