CamoTherapy: Supporting your habit
Andy Hahn 06.27.13
Every good rifleman finds ways to support his habit, and disabled hunters should be no different. I’m talking about using a sturdy rest when shooting your firearm.
Whether you’re toting a rimfire to hunt small game such as squirrels or a centerfire in pursuit of larger quarry, a rifle rest helps you hold the crosshairs steady on target to deliver high-percentage, ethical shots. Handicapped sportsmen can choose rests that suit their degree of disability as well as a particular hunting scenario.
Many tree stands and permanent ground blinds—ready made or custom built—feature shooting rails or window frames that can steady a rifle. If the rail lacks padding, it’s a good idea to place a cushion, coat or other soft material over it to avoid damaging your rifle’s finish. This protection also eliminates noise when positioning the gun for a shot.
Hunting in the open or from pop-up blinds poses a greater challenge when it’s time to aim. While in the early stages of ALS, I used a four-legged walker to reach my pop-up blind. Once settled in a folding stool, I’d position the walker in front of me to serve as a gun rest. It was the perfect height and very stable.
Collapsible shooting sticks rate as the best option for disabled hunters who have use of their arms. You can adjust the sticks’ height to hold a rifle steady whether you’re standing, sitting or kneeling, and they offer maneuverability when you need to change shooting angles quickly. Hunters can choose from many makes and models, most of which feature aluminum construction and two- or three-piece, telescoping legs. A quick check of the Cabela’s website shows a variety of shooting sticks ranging in price from $18 to $130.
As my condition worsened, I depended on a wheelchair and my arms became too weak to hold a rifle. I bought a model LM100 wheelchair-mounted bracket from BE-Adaptive (www.beadaptive.com) for $475. The detachable, easy-to-assemble unit fits any wheelchair; it supports the rifle’s weight yet allows full range of movement—up, down, left, right—for aiming. I’ve used my LM100 to support rifles, shotguns and even a crossbow, and it has helped me take many deer, hogs and squirrels. BE-Adaptive also makes a motorized gun bracket for quadriplegics. Controlled via joystick or chin movement, it draws power from a 12-volt battery.
No matter what kind of rest you use, make sure the rifle is supported by the forestock and not by the gun barrel. If you place your barrel directly on the rest, the physics of shooting will have an adverse effect on the rifle’s accuracy.
Each shooter must find what works best for him, and then spend time practicing at the rifle range. How do you hold your crosshairs steady in hunting situations?