Shooting Sticks

Many hunters won't have come across shooting sticks until they hunt Africa....

Shooting sticks, when used correctly, are a great help as an aid for accurate shooting. When used incorrectly, they're a great hindrance. So, let's look at the correct way to use them.

They usually come in two versions - bipod and tripod. Either way, the tracker will carry them and as you are getting close to the quarry animal, you will need to be close to the tracker and sticks. As soon as the sticks get set up, you need to get your rifle on them. Try to place your left hand on the vee of the sticks and hold the stock where it feels comfortable As soon as the rifle is on the sticks, start looking for animal you're going for.

Shooting from sticks is in many ways the same as any other kind of accurate shooting. Get the geometry right and it will all fall into place. You need to form as many triangles with your body as you possibly can. Assuming you are right handed, stand with your left leg forward and your right leg to the rear and keep the knees straight - 1 triangle. Then make 2 other triangles with your arms and try to keep your elbows as high as possible. Hold the rifle reasonably firmly to strengthen those triangles and try to imagine you're almost trying to twist the stock on two opposite directions at the same time.

If you are using a bipod, angle the top of the sticks towards you, and then lean into the sticks and the rifle, to form another triangle which will give additional stability. If you need to adjust the height on a set of bipod sticks, just move forward or back slightly, as appropriate.

If you're using tripod sticks, lean into them - it's a little harder to form such a strong triangle with them. If the tripod is too high or too low, the tracker will adjust them for you. Your PH will be watching you on the sticks and if he thinks it necessary and if the occasion allows, he'll lean into your shooting shoulder with his shoulder to give you even more stability.

For further shooting stick wisdom, go to Shooting Sticks - A Guide for the Unwary by Peter Lang

Make Your Own Shooting Sticks

It's quite easy to make a set of shooting sticks to practice with at home before your hunt.

  • Depending on whether you want bipod or tripod, take two or three pieces of wood, light metal or bamboo poles of an appropriate thickness and length.
  • The poles need to be at least 6ft long, preferably a little more. The circumference of the poles needs to be strong enough for them to be fairly rigid and that will obviously be dependent on the type of material you use but you need similar rigidity to a broom handle, which incidentally, has a circumference of about 2 1/2".
  • About 6" down from one end, cross bind them together with either a long strip of inner tube rubber (about 1" wide) pulling the rubber taut as you go. If you don't have access to old inner tube rubber, you can use a rubber drive belt from suction cleaner.
  • With the bipod version, you can also use the alternative method of drilling through the two poles about 6" from one end and holding them together with a nut and bolt. Either put a second nut on and tighten both nuts against each other or add a dab of loctite glue to the thread.
  • A leather strap may be added in which to rest the rifle and this also prevents the sticks sliding open in loose sand at inconvenient moments.

Shooting Sticks Suitable For Africa

Unfortunately the Stoney Point Steady Stix & Safari Stix are no longer available to purchase. Also the excellent Long Grass tripod seems to have disappeared from the market.

(Click on images for full details & colour options)

The Hammers safari lightweight tripod has bungee-corded legs made of strong aluminum alloy tubing. The foldable legs extend to assemble instantly when swung open. Rubber joints between sections cushions and lessen the noise when set up. Rubber top tips hold the rifle without scratching and allow easy panning. At the end of each leg, there is a carbide tip that gives solid grip on ground surface. The tripod greatly improves shooting accuracy from sitting or kneeling positions, especially for making long shots. When not in use, the tripod breaks into corded sections and folds easily down to 14" and is tied up with elastic Velcro band. Comes with a carrying belt pouch. Overall length 40" with maximum height of about 32". Weight 111/2oz. Buy Now

This Bog Pod tripod comes with telescoping legs with height markers for quick, exact length adjustments plus leg stops to prevent over extension. The rapid adjust lever locks can be used in sitting, kneeling or standing positions with legs extending from 22" to 68". It has insulated, non-slip hand grips with a shooting rest which swivels 360° and has a non-slip scratch resistant rubber-covering. An attached velcro strap secures the legs together for easy carrying. Available in tall and short tripod and tall bipod models. Buy Now

This Primos Pole Cat Steady Stix is fast to set up, light weight and rock steady in all conditions. It is perfect for kneeling or sitting as well as standing. It comes with larger diameter tubing for added strength and support and three-piece shock corded sections which compact down to 15" for carrying. The overall height is 40" and it weighs 8oz. Buy Now

The Ultrec tripod also comes in bipod and monopod designs. The three section telescoping legs have adjustable length from 28 " to 68". The rubberized gun support makes it quiet to use and protects your rifle. The rifle support rotates 360° for easy alignment with target. There is a twist lock mechanism for the legs and grip point under the removable rubber feet. A velcro strap secures the legs closed while carrying. Weighs 29 ozs. Buy Now

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