A quick trip to the rifle range will show the popularity of shooting offhand. There will likely be a few shots, but the vast majority prefers a platform—bench rest, sandbags or a bipod. All that works great… for the range and zeroing your sights, but does it relate to your shooting goals?
Recently, I was questioned about the viability of using a bipod. The question came up after hours of searching the Internet and noticing military snipers shooting off packs or sandbags.
My first tip was to remind him that he was not a military sniper. Too many years and a few too many doughnuts—I assured him that a past history with both would protect him from ever being drafted as a military sniper. After the laughter died down, we began discussing the topic and came up with the following thoughts.
Beyond being able to put rounds on target, snipers are hunters. As a result, a sniper may spend a lot of time on their stomach, belly crawling for hours to a firing position while remaining undetected. Snipers also have to be concerned about weight and load requirements.
Hunting a game animal is similar to a sniper in many ways. Shot placement is probably the most critical in the end, but stealth is also required to get the opportunity for the shot. However, hunters do not have the same weight requirements and a missed opportunity is just that, a missed opportunity. For the sniper—police or military—human lives can be lost if they miss an opportunity.
A Case For Bipods
Up to this point everything would seem to point away from bipods, but I am actually a huge fan. While hunting, I will take a rest any chance I get. If the foliage allows it, I’ll go prone. If there is a truck hood handy, well, I have been known to use that too.
Bipods are great for quick reaction scenarios. Go back to the scenario of the sniper, but this time think more in terms of a police sniper. Some stealth may be involved, but a bipod scraping the ground is not nearly as likely to give away the shooters position. Once on site, the sniper will need a steady rest—fast. A bipod would not only be useful, it is adjustable and portable. You can change shooting positions quickly to meet the needs of the situation.
When taking a rifle on a hunt, or anytime I setup a gun for long-range shooting, I either set it up with a bipod or keep a set of shooting sticks handy. Shooting sticks are a great alternative and carbon models weigh next to nothing. In an emergency or doomsday scenario, a few sturdy twigs will suffice. You can quickly deploy sticks that allow you to shoot from a prone, kneeling or standing position.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like any type of shooting, the tools are only useful if you practice. If you are a hunter, you need to practice under hunting conditions, with varying terrain, rocks and cactus or a high, field of goldenrod. If you are a survivalist, you may want to work up some defensive scenarios where you transit to a position or break out your equipment quickly and prepare to engage targets.
If you don’t want to do this alone, find a local shooting group that may have similar interests. The International Defensive Pistol League (IDPA) does similar scenarios for handguns; perhaps you could find one for long guns.
As always, remember to practice safety first. Practice safe weapon handling and when going hot, know your backstop and what’s behind it.
Do you use a bipod or shooting sticks? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.