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.
15 thoughts on “Gel Shooting Support – A valuable tool for spring gun shooters”
I tried various foam and other pads a few years ago and settled on using the Browning Reactar pads (which fit into a pocket in their very nice shooting shirts). I use one pad in the shoulder pocket and one over my arm (I shoot FT over-the-arm since the knee support position caused me great pains in my neck).
I also use the cheapest knee protector pads you can find at Home Depot over my arm. The cheaper ones have non-bouncy foam — you pay more money and the bounciness goes up, apparently.
I tried various other gels including a wrist support for computer mice but they were too wiggly — the Reactar (like the ones in your picture) have gel-filled pockets which seem to reduce the wiggles.
i know pnuematics and pcps for the most part do not recoil as badly as springers, but if an airgunner wanted to isolate scope movement for pnuematics/pcps, would he apply a rear scope stop (like a springer), or a front one?
The only pneumatic that recoils enough to use a scope stop is a big bore. The kick is to the rear, so the scope and mount will try to more forward.
B.B. I was anonymous for the majority of my posts about my Beeman RX-1 I now have a blogger name but don’t know enough about how to find your responses to my question/comments. I am sorry for being a pain here but I will figure this out. Would you please point me in the right direction? Is there a way to enable automatic email notice of replies?
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Hello again B.B.
I wanted to pass along a little info about shooting a springer that I worked out yesterday. A while back you mentioned the Dragon Claw bi-pod. I installed one on my Mendoza RM200 yesterday. I upgraded the scope to a 3x9x40 AO and backed up to 20 yards. I also tried a new pellet, the RWS Superdome.
I installed the bi-pod as close to the back of the barrel as possible that would still allow for cocking with the legs extended. Because the cocking on the Mendoza is small, this works well.
Before at 10 yards, shooting from a table but without a rest, I managed groups just at or slightly larger than 1/2 inch. With the above combination, I was consistently shooting 1/2″ groups from 20 yards.
I’m going to try the bi-pod on my other springers to see how they react as I know all of them may be different, but for this Mendoza.. it WORKS. I’ll be posting a full report on my site http://www.airgunweb.com in a few days.
As for the gel pad, I’ve been playing with that memory foam stuff because it has some resistance to it. I’m guessing that the gel would be better. I guess I’ll have to pick one up on my next order.
Happy, Fun, and Safe shooting
Rick in SC
Glad you had the report on the Gel rest the same day I was placing an order for a new scope and mounts. I’m looking forward to trying it.
If there is I don’t know about it. As the blog writer I get all the comments, but I think everyone else has to read the comments on the same post they asked their question on. I try to get to them every day, but I’m sure I miss a few.
Did you get what I said about the RX-1 trigger?
The gel pad works great, the one time I tested it. Let me know how it works for you.
Also I’d like to hear about memory foam.
Let me know how the gel pad works for you?
BB / alex
i have an M1 garand. Is that why you did that report on peep sights back in march? I dont like peep sights outside of 20 yards.
that was sumo
No I didn’t write about peep sights because of the Garand, though it is a good one to use. I became fascinated in peep sights after learning about the long-range shooters at Creedmore who shot 800, 900 and 1,000 yards with peep sights. Their groups were almost always leass than minute of angle. Of course they had good eyes.
Ok, i have perfect eyes but i still hate peep sights.
Thats neet, i was just curios.
I have a sample piece of Tempur-Pedic (high-quality foam-like material) that is about 5″ wide by 1″ tall. I also have some cheap memory foam. I thought either’d make a great rest for my Diana 34. Unfortunately, since they’re made for a heavier body to rest on they do not mold to the gun unless it is quite heavy. They are both too stiff and springy to use, as well as my gel pad from an old mousepad. I hope the Pyramyd gel rest works properly, much better than these. I may just have to check one out. Thanks BB.