Recoil - - Contents - BY CANDICE HORNER

Shoot­ing Tri­pod Buyer’s Guide

Shoot­ers needed tripods be­fore tripods for ri­fles ex­isted. We had to wait for the in­dus­try to catch up by man­u­fac­tur­ing tripods for ri­fle shoot­ing. Snipers and hunters have been shoot­ing off of tripods or sticks of some sort for longer than any­one can con­firm. But each group has vastly dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments for the use of tripods.

Snipers of­ten don’t have the best gear avail­able, re­ly­ing in­stead on creative prob­lem solv­ing. Since fight­ing has moved to a more ur­ban arena, prone shoot­ing is rarely pos­si­ble. Snipers have used ev­ery­thing from makeshift shoot­ing sticks to stur­dier tripods. Mod­i­fy­ing pho­tog­ra­phy tripods to ac­com­mo­date ri­fles was the norm, but the prob­lem with us­ing a pho­tog­ra­phy tri­pod is that they aren’t meant for ri­fles. Mis­us­ing pho­tog­ra­phy tripods leads to bro­ken parts. The tiny clamp whose job was to hold the mount­ing plate at­tached to the ri­fle onto the tri­pod fre­quently broke. And, to top it off, pho­tog­ra­phy tripods weren’t rigid enough to hold the weight of a large ri­fle. Al­though read­ily avail­able, stan­dard pho­tog­ra­phy tripods were sim­ply the wrong tools for the job.

Tripods in­tended for ri­fle use were first brought to con­sumers via hunt­ing. Shoot­ing sticks can be made from nearly any type of stick. They can use one, two, or three legs for sup­port. Hav­ing more legs to sup­port the ri­fle’s weight de­creases the amount of wob­ble or move­ment you see when aim­ing in on your tar­get. The less weight you’re try­ing to mus­cle into place, the more sta­ble your shoot­ing po­si­tion, thus in­creas­ing your chance of suc­cess.

Shoot­ers with heav­ier ri­fles or who need to be able to shoot fur­ther dis­tances re­quire strong tripods that can hold a po­si­tion for long pe­ri­ods of time and can quickly pan or tilt when needed for a mov­ing tar­get. When weight mat­ters, for ex­am­ple trekking up a moun­tain stalk­ing an elk, a light­weight tri­pod is more ideal. Each tri­pod de­sign has its own ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages, but there’s surely one that fits the job you need.

When de­cid­ing to buy a new tri­pod, the main ques­tion to ask is how you’ll use it. If you want to be able to shoot a deer within a cou­ple hun­dred yards, a light­weight hunt­ing tri­pod is the way to go. If you want to take pre­ci­sion shots out to a thou­sand yards, you’re go­ing to pay a pretty penny for the tri­pod that’ll take care of you. Back in Is­sue 31, we cov­ered “Prob­lem Solv­ing Shoot­ing Po­si­tions.” Many of the key top­ics in the ar­ti­cle ap­ply to the use of tripods. You can catch that full ar­ti­cle on RECOILweb.

For this buyer’s guide, we started by re­view­ing tripods com­monly used by hunters, snipers, and com­pet­i­tive shoot­ers, but quickly re­al­ized that so few are ac­tu­ally tai­lor-made for ri­fles. In­stead of high­light­ing old adap­ta­tions, work­arounds, and com­pa­nies that don’t like guns, we’re fea­tur­ing tripods that have been specif­i­cally de­signed, tested, and mar­keted for ri­fle shoot­ing.

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