The support family and friends provide gets us through the tough times and makes the good times even better. As shooters, we can all use a little support, too, and to provide that in the field, the bipod is what I count on more than anything else.
Shooting sticks have been around since the invention of gunpowder, mainly because those early firearms were too heavy for the shooter to hold up. But like everything else, the modern shooting support has evolved to where it can be a wonder of technology.
But whether it's simple or complex, a good bipod shooting support will be lightweight and readily adjustable for height. It'll allow some left-to-right pivoting movement and be relatively compact when folded. And because the terrain where we hunt is never level, it must be capable of dealing with uneven ground, all while providing solid support for the rifle.
Those crossed wooden sticks on which the Buffalo hunters of the old West rested their Sharps rifles met all those criteria—and still do. It's a rock-simple design which a hunter can make at home in an hour and be assured it'll work just fine.
Those shooting sticks in the center of the image above are my homemade interpretation of that timeless design. Instead of wood, however, I used some scrap aluminum rod I had in the metal bin. The size that works for me, when shooting from a sitting position, is 32 inches long with the pivot 5 inches from one end.
The bipod in the left of the photo is a major step up in complexity. This one is typical of the design which attaches to the front sling swivel of a rifle and features legs that fold up parallel to the barrel when not in use. They are available from a host of manufacturers in all levels of quality and at all price points. And, like everything else, you can even get "tactical" models.
And on the far right of the photo is another variation. This is a compact camera tripod with a V-shaped yoke attached instead of a camera mount. If I'm shooting both rifle and camera, this is what you're likely to find strapped to my pack in the field.
As a dual purpose item, it allows me to use the tripod as a shooting rest to drop the quarry and then becomes a camera support for those important selfie photos once the game is on the ground. And, yes—even though it has three legs it's still a bipod because I'll typically only extend two for shooting and not deploy the third until it's camera time.
Bipods are a tremendous help in delivering accurate shots. And in performing that function for hunters, the homemade ones crafted at no cost work about as well as the most sophisticated $300 tactical jobs.
Check out what you can build and what's on the market, then compare it with your needs … because you can always shoot better with a little help from a bipod.