by B.B. Pelletier
Okay, so now you know what I used to tighten my groups by 40 percent with the Hammerli Storm Elite. The Gel Shooting Support is a small pad you lay on whatever surface you have and lay your rifle on top of it. Yesterday, I laid the pad on top of my regular shooting bag, a long canvas bag filled with crushed walnut shells and proceeded to shoot the Storm. This is the rest of that report.
Shooting bags work well – except…
I normally lay all my firearms and PCPs directly on this shooting bag, and it supports them fine for more precise shooting. Remember I mentioned yesterday how much my heartbeat was moving the reticle on the target? Well, that’s normal. It happens to every shooter, and the more contact you have with the gun, the more you influence it. The key is to get the movement as small as possible, and one way to do it is to isolate the gun from your body. A good way to do that is to lay the gun on a sandbag (crushed walnuts, in this case). Unfortunately, spring-piston guns do not like to be laid directly on sandbags. And, breakbarrel springers are especially sensitive.
Until now, the solution has been to lay your hand on the bag and the forearm of the gun on the flat of your hand. Yesterday, I was able to use the gel pad instead of my hand to shoot very tight groups. The difference was that I was no longer holding the gun with my left hand, which isolated the gun enough to eliminate a large part of the movement. I was also able to concentrate more on the other parts of my hold to make them as light as possible, and that reduced the reticle movement even further.
This is not new. About 130 years ago, target shooters used two rests for their target rifles. The front rest was a mechanical affair that was sometimes permanently attached to the rifle, and the rear rest was either a second mechanical rest or sometimes a sandbag. They used 20-power scopes to sight these target rifles, and at 220 yards (40 rods) the best of them shot 10-shot groups measuring less than one inch, center-to-center. That wasn’t the way they measured groups in those days, so we don’t hear much about them today; until the 1940s, these old-time shooters were unmatched by modern firearms. The double-rest removes all of the body’s movement, which means you get those “vise-tight” groups you’ve always daydreamed about. And, you get it from a true “soft” hold, instead of a hard vice-like grip. It’s the ultimate artillery hold.
Brockway .38 caliber muzzleloading target rifle with false muzzle for more accurate loading is capable of sub-minute-of-angle groups at 220 yards. Note the machine rest attached below the muzzle. The false muzzle has an obstruction sticking up to block the scope, so the shooter doesn’t forget to remove the false muzzle before taking the shot. This rifle is a relatively lightweight double-rest gun, weighing only 16 pounds.
Training wheels for springers
Until now, soft rests didn’t work with spring guns. They don’t like touching most surfaces and tend to vibrate unevenly, throwing off shots in random directions. But, yesterday, I found that the gel support pad acts exactly like human flesh. At least, it did with the Hammerli Storm Elite. I’ll need to do more testing with this pad to determine if it works with most or even all springers. Let’s hope it does, because this is like training wheels for springers. You won’t need to learn and practice all that technique if this device removes a large portion of the need for it!
I laid the Hammerli Storm Elite directly on top of the gel shooting support, which was resting on top of my sandbag gun rest.
Lay it anywhere!
The real beauty of the Gel Shooting Support is that you can take it along with you and lay it on any convenient surface – even a rock! The underside is some sort of tough synthetic material that does not want to slide on any surface, so you can lay it on the top rail of your deck and fire away. No matter what surface it comes in contact with, it seems to stay put until you pick it up.
The pad fits into your pocket, plus it comes with a D-ring to snap to a rifle sling or belt loop. It weighs next to nothing so you won’t know you have it until you need it.
Best of all – the price!
This thing costs less than a tin of good pellets! If it’s as handy as this one test seems to indicate, it’s worth many times the price. Joshua Ungier, the owner of Pyramyd Air, told me he uses his as a support when he shoots his Winchester .30-30! The next time I go to a firearm range, I’m going to test it with my Garand. I will also continue to test it with all the spring guns I test, and from time to time I’ll let you know how it’s doing.