Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Read Part Two: Never Miss Again Part II: Battle Mount Your Scope

Some of the greatest minds in America are working on high-level physics to improve ballistic coefficients through advanced bullet geometry, metallurgy in terminal performance, high-speed fluid dynamics, and increasing conflagration outputs as propellants move from solid to plasma to gas. They grapple with effects like spin drift, aerodynamic jump, and density altitude variance at the max ordinance. New cartridges boasting modest gains in muzzle velocity trickle from the wildcat reloader’s bench to shooting competitions and eventually onto gun shop shelves and then into the woods. Absolutely none of this matters if we can’t hold the rifle steady.

With practice, we can take sufficiently precise shots from standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone positions without the use of supports. However, with a support, we can stabilize the rifle, keep the reticle on the target, press the trigger, and follow through in a way that allows us to observe the impact of the shot on the target in a way that cannot be bested by unsupported positions. I’m going to walk you through the tools I use to keep a rifle steady while my heart is beating like a diesel engine when a bull elk walks out of timber and pauses broadside on the edge of a canyon.

Bipods Stabilize Excellently

The steadiest option is always going to that which is closest to the ground. That means you will be using a bipod. This provides three points of contact between the rifle and the ground (the shooter is the third), which can be made steady on any terrain. I have backtracked 100 yards to find a position where I can take a prone shot. Steadiness is more important than closeness in some scenarios.

One of the primary reasons I hunt with this particular bipod is because I don’t want a bipod connected to my rifle all the time. It makes the gun heavier, makes it harder to put in or on a pack, and catches on brush and limbs. The Spartan bipod is small enough for me to put in my pocket or bino harness so it’s out of the way until I need to use it. I have used these bipods through several generations, and to be honest, I didn’t like them for years. The Pro Hunt Tac model, with its locking legs, is the perfect hunting bipod for what I do because it’s light, easily attached or removed, and has excellent stiffness in the legs which holds the rifle as steady as a swan on a pond. I don’t hunt big game without one.

The Pro Hunt Tac

Hunter using Spartan Pro Hunt Tac bipod
The Spartan Pro Hunt Tac bipod with standard legs provides 10″ of ground clearance and is detachable from the rifle with one hand. It attaches to a proprietary adapter with a magnet and can either allow 30 degrees of traverse or 0 depending on how you attach the bipod. It has locking legs that come in two different heights and offer 15 degrees of cant.
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
I’ve shot 36lb rifles off this bipod without issue. Safe to say it punches above its weight.
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
The Pro Hunt Tac bipod comes with several adapter plates and a variety of screw lengths and thread pitches so you can mount it in the sling swivel stud hole on your synthetic or wood stock. For guns with rails, Mlok versions are also available.

My First Bipod

25 years ago the first bipod I ever shot had three telescoping legs, several springs, and made an awful mechanical noise anytime I deployed it. You also had to be careful when you shortened the legs or it would smash the end of your thumb. The good old days. I had ordered the tallest bipod in the Cabela’s catalog so I could shoot sitting with it as well. In classic fashion, it was too tall to shoot prone and too short to shoot sitting. The problem I was running into was that if I tried to shoot lying down there was usually grass in my way which obstructed my view and would cause bullet deflection if I tried to shoot through it. I needed elevation, but didn’t want to give up the stability. Along came tripods.

READ MORE: ODIN Works Supports Your Rifle With New Products — SHOT Show 2023

Hunter using a tripod to stabilize rifle
There are as many opinions about how to shoot a tripod as there are ways to hold one. I prefer to reach across to the nearside right leg with my thumb down. This shooter had never shot off a tripod before and achieved an impact on an 18″ gong at 700 yards on his second shot. This tripod is called The Kit V2 from Two Vets Tripods. The height is adjustable from 22″-80″ and the legs can be locked at three different angles which allows you to even shoot from the prone.

Enter: Tripods

Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
This tripod head has course and fine adjustments, a knurled knob for clamping it onto an ARCA-style plate, and a knob for tensioning traverse. These ball-style heads have taken over the competition world, with many tripod/head combos costing close to $2k– This one, which has a quality and capability very much the same as the ridiculously expensive brands, comes in at around $840
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
The Kit V2, with a 55mm Area 419 dual tension head, still comes in at less than 5 lbs. My spotting scope and camera both have an ARCA plate and can mount to this same tripod. There are even tents available that can be pitched using these tripods as their structure.
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
Another option is this style of head which squeezes a rifle like a vice, meaning you don’t need an ARCA plate. This tripod from BOG POD is budget-friendly, and can also use an ARCA plate which increases its functionality. As a side note, I’ve been loving these bullet scabbards from Paladin33. Beats fishing around in your pack or pocket for another cartridge and looks cool.
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
The ball head on this tripod isn’t in the same league of smoothness as those from Two Vets Tripods, but I really like the quarter-turn locks on the legs.
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
This is a good choice for a budget-friendly option or situations where it’s impractical to mount an ARCA plate. This setup lightened my wallet by about $450

Shooting Bags Can Stabilize Too

The unsung hero of support is the humble shooting bag. This is not a complicated tool. It’s a bag made from cordura, waxed canvas, or the bottom of an old pant leg filled with small foam beads, sand, cracked corn, etc. They come in all shapes and sizes ranging from an adult-size bean bag to something that would fit in an empty can of noodle soup. The job of a shooting bag is to conform to the ground on one side and to the rifle on the other. They can be used to rest the forend of the rifle or the stock. On the bench or in the prone, a shooter’s support hand squeezes the bag to change the elevation of the muzzle.

Hunter using shooting bag to stabilize rifle
The shooter has a good cheek weld which creates downward pressure from the rifle into the bag. He was able to shoot accurately and quickly using this bag which helped him stay on target for follow-up shots.
Shooting bag
I’ve had this bag for years. It’s my camp pillow, a shooting bag, and the lumbar support between my back and chair as I write this article.
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
Still heavier than the Spartan bipod, but still lighter than a can of coke.
Never Miss Again Part III: Stabilize Your Rifle
When I get a new shooting bag I park my truck on it overnight, this makes the media squishy and gives it some memory which I find super helpful. Check out some more options for shooting bags right here


With a good bipod, tripod and shooting bag you can get creative and build a steady shooting position quickly anywhere. Over 90% of the shots I have taken on big game animals in the past six years have been from a tripod. If you intend to never miss again, you’ll need to find a way to keep your rifle steady as you press the trigger. These are the tools I use.

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About the author: is an outfitter, professional hunter and cattle rancher from NE Oregon where he resides as the fifth generation of his family to raise cattle, hunt, and fish on the 6 Ranch. He studied history at Adolf Øien Videregående in Trondheim, Norway where he also competed on the Norwegian National Greco-Roman wrestling team, then studied Literature and Writing at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana. Afterwards, Nash served as an Armor Officer and platoon commander in the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank in the US Marine Corps for five years. Nash was wounded in Afghanistan and received two Purple Heart Medals and after a period of convalescence was subsequently retired. He returned to the 6 Ranch and resumed guiding and outfitting, with a focus on other combat wounded veterans. Nash has guided salt and freshwater fly and gear fishing, all kinds of hunting, and back country wilderness trips since age 14. He hosts the 6 Ranch Podcast, and you can learn more about him on instagram @6ranchoutfitters.

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  • James Colten August 1, 2023, 12:11 pm

    NE Oregon… I have to feel for the author. To live in a state which such an abundance of disgust for gun owners let alone a wounded veteran has to be difficult to say the least. Yet, a beautiful part of our great country and raising cattle on his family ranch, goes above and beyond what we stand for as Americans. I would love to have this veteran guide us on a fly fishing tour on and about his land.

    • James T Nash August 3, 2023, 3:52 pm

      It’s a wonderful place with some really hard working people. Politically, we struggle against the western OR population. They are good folks too, but they haven’t lived in a way that’s allowed them to understand much about natural resources or rural living

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