A successful hunt requires a clear, accurate—and ethical—shot. All hunters have experienced “buck fever” and fully understand the extent of what adrenaline does to your focus and ability to remain coordinated when a trophy freezer-filler walks into your field of view. A steady, precise shot is needed to take it down.
In the field, blind or stand, what is the best way to ensure you never miss that shot? By using the underestimated, but simple, shooting stick.
What are Shooting Sticks?
Shooting sticks—either tripod, bipod, or monopod—are portable rifle rests that provide a steady platform for an accurate shot. Even the very best and most experienced hunters know that off-hand shooting isn’t the best option—especially when shooting sticks are readily available.
Those hunters who have been around awhile know the challenges of hunting in the open field or in heavy brush without any form of support for their rifle. Before the shooting stick, too many bad shots wounded dangerous and big game from poachers and well-intended hunters alike. Letting a wounded animal go is unethical as well as dangerous. Not only this, but the hunter in Africa pays (literally) for every animal shot regardless if it drops or runs off.
Sportsmen pride themselves on the perfect shot which takes their game down instantly. A stable rifle rest is usually necessary for this to happen. Guides in Africa began building—and still do—a tripod rifle rest made from wood. They are now an invaluable tool for hunters in Africa. David E. Petzal, Rifles Editor for Field & Stream magazine says, “…shooting sticks make eminent good sense.”
African shooting sticks use three legs which are simply spread out further or closer to adjust for height. Shooting sticks for hunting are also available with two legs—a bipod—or single leg—a monopod. Bipods traditionally attach underneath the barrel of your rifle with a mount and fold up when not in use. Bipods are shorter and designed for prone shooting in sniper or tactical situations and long-range precision shooting.
Bipods and tripods can’t be used in a tree stand and, in many instances, not even in a ground blind.
Monopods only use one leg, adjustable for height and have a yoke—many times removable and interchangeable—that serves as a gun rest. Though a monopod does not offer as much stability as a bipod or tripod, they are more versatile, quicker to deploy and less cumbersome to transport than a tripod.
Monopods are specifically designed with the field hunter in mind. Hunters do not shoot from a prone position but are usually sitting, kneeling or standing. Monopods offer the advantage in providing different heights in these positions. Even more, they are lightweight, mobile, and easy and quick to set-up, meaning they are beneficial when hunting in an open field, tree stand or when you and your targets are on the move. The single leg makes it easier to steady your firearm in uneven or mountainous terrain than a bipod or tripod.
The best monopods are adaptable with removable and changeable yokes, so they not only serve as a shooting rest but also as a stable platform for binoculars and spotting scopes when you’re glassing and as a trekking or hiking staff when walking. Using a monopod shooting stick extends your accurate shooting distance and instinctually provides a natural lean into your gun giving you a solid stance to confidently take a shot.
Bipods and tripods certainly have their rightful place as a valid hunting accessory and in the shooting sports, but for an incredibly versatile shooting stick in the field, in rugged terrain and in heavy brush, you just can’t beat a monopod.
Here are the best monopods for hunting including some of biggest names in shooting accessories like Primos, Allen and MTM shooting sticks.
Firefield makes affordable AR-15 accessories and has recently been adding more to its inventory. For hog hunting with an AR-platform rifle, these shooting sticks are fantastic. Texas is vast and sometimes we must trek quite a long distance to get to where the hogs are at. We love how the Firefield shooting stick converts easily from a trekking pole to a rock steady shooting rest. They withstand .223 Remington, .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor when we tested them. The Firefield shooting stick easily converts from a stable shooting rest to a hiking pole with the included trekking basket, rubber boot and carbide tip. Specifically made for hunting, the Firefield shooting stick comes in handy when walking to and from your deer stand and when navigating the field on a blood trail. A lever releases the locking mechanism, so you can adjust the shooting stick from 31.7 inches to 67.4 inches, which goes from a standing to kneeling position. Lock-up is tight and the carbide tip provides a rock-solid shooting rest. A non-slip cork grip with wrist strap makes the shooting stick easily transportable, as well as provides a sure grip even when wet. With a standard stud, it is compatible with cameras, night vision and thermal imagers. We are particularly fond of how lightweight the Firefield shooting stick is at 12 ounces and Firefield’s extended three-year warranty—one of the best on this list!
Best features: durable, lightweight aluminum, stability, hiking/trekking pole convertibility
This 3-piece monopod from the company famous for its game calls has three telescoping sections and adjusts from a wide range of 25 inches to 62 inches. Those of us on the team who have a height advantage feel catered to with this monopod. The twist to adjust mechanism is different, but quiet and locks up tight. The carbide tip provides a steady rest even on rocky ground. The cushioned handle with wrist strap gives you enough grip and doesn’t slip. The non-marring V yoke holds your rifle well but is a bit wobbly. The aluminum poles are durable and steady enough. It weighs one pound, which doesn’t add a whole of weight to your pack when walking to and from the stand or blind. With a standard stud, it is compatible with cameras. It works great for spotting, too.
Best features: variations in height adjustment, quiet operation, price
Hunter’s Specialties is a trusted brand of hunting accessories, game calls and scent control. Use this shooting monopod for what it’s made for and it won’t disappoint. This Shooting Stick adjusts from 17 to 36 inches, so it is optimized for ground hunting when sitting. We like it for turkey hunting and have successfully used it in a tree stand. It has a quick-release leg, which also locks in place. The rubberized gun rest is contoured and has the added stability of an adjustable bungee cord you can wrap around your gun. It tightens down the gun and really steadies the barrel. There are a basic foam handle and wrist strap. It weighs only 0.48 ounces. Use this shooting stick on stable ground.
Best features: Weight and size—it fits in your backpack and hunting vest
This is a simple monopod which offers one additional featured not offered on the others—a nice gripper head that really helps stabilize your rifle. It extends 21.5 to 61 inches with quick-cam leg adjustments. It has a padded foam grip handle and wrist strap. It is lightweight aluminum at 0.51 pounds. The Allen Gripper shooting stick includes a camera and spotting scope mount. We like it for how easy it is to adjust and portability. For a steady gun rest in the blind, it does its job.
Best features: gripper head, adjustability, lightweight
This cane-like monopod is more walking stick than shooting rest, but the included gun hook does offer many different options for you to have a stable shooting rest—even when prone. MTM boosts 30 different height adjustments; however, these heights are limited to how long the pole is. The walking stick and shooting rest are not height-adjustable. The gun hook works for rifles and is best for handguns and shorter-barreled guns. It weighs one pound. We could not use this monopod standing, but for prone shooters in the field, it is a good option.
Best features: adjustable for prone shooting, stable walking stick, made in the U.S.A.
You will be able to find all these shooting sticks on Amazon and all of them may be used for sighting-in or hunting. Whenever you need a stable shooting platform on the fly, a monopod is versatile and easy to use.