By: David Rodgers
A recent visit from an interstate shooter colleague who mentioned an interesting device that a friend of his had improvised from a short painters' telescopic extension pole for steadying his offhand shooting very much aroused my curiosity and this got me to thinking about how my own shooting might be improved in the 'going for a walk' type of hunting scenario.
After a short time cogitating on my visitor's description, and playing around with a couple of rests I already own, I soon came to realise that the wheel I was now trying to invent was probably already on the market and so I very quickly decided to search the Internet instead to see what might already be available. Within a very few minutes I had found the HIP STICK and concluded that it might very well meet my own needs.
In brief, these were for a small, collapsible, telescopic rifle rest, worn on the belt, that was compact, lightweight, unobtrusive, quickly deployed and stored away, and would offer the facility of greatly increased accuracy without the necessity of time consuming set-up when a target animal might escape. The HIP STICK (EBI Inc) certainly appeared to check all of those boxes.
The HIP STICK is an American product, ( EBI, Inc Kissimmee, FL. www.HIPSTICKREST.com ) and I soon had an email enquiry on its way to the very helpful customer service department.
For some reason the company was unable to sell me direct to me in Australia and re-directed me to its retailers in Germany and Poland. Thinking that sounded somewhat clumsy I then looked on Amazon and found it available that way, though it certainly came at a cost.
The price in U.S currency was approx $60.00 but by the time I got mine ordered and shipped to my door the exchange rate loss, plus transport, had significantly increased my cost to about $140.00 AUD but my impression from the company's site was that it would be well worth it so I was happy enough to pay the extra.
The delivery arrived on time, very neatly packaged, and with full and easy to read instructions on the back showing how the HIP STICK can be used in a variety of ways for resting a rifle, pistol, or crossbow, and muzzeloader and shotgun users are also not forgotten.
The device itself is simple and is very well constructed of high quality aluminium tubing, being three short tubes one inside another, which are affixed to a strong and flexible plastic base plate that has a large slit so that it can slide either over your own belt or the very long quality nylon webbing belt that comes with it. This, by the way, is of very generous length for even the most ample waistline and very handy if you are wearing a coat. The tubes lock out to a solid rod simply by twisting and there is a shallow and padded semi-circle rest at the end which also turns to the desired position and so won' scratch your firearm's fore-stock.
The rod arrangement attaches to the base plate with a ball joint and there is a locking nut (a bit small for my extra large hands) so that the fully extended rod locks into the desired position and angle away from the body. When retracted the whole device measures a mere 12'' (31cm) and fully extended and locked out the arm extends approximately 21'' (56cm) out from the belt at the angle of your choosing.
It is very quick to deploy (once you have got the hang of the thing and it is indeed very easy) and locks firmly into place just by twisting on itself and, similarly, it is very quickly got out of the way if needs be. There are three holding cradles on the base plate so that the user can choose the best angle for his or her own comfort which hold the rod either retracted or extended as desired when not immediately in use, and depending whether the user is walking, sitting, or riding. Therefore there is no need to carry it in the hand as it is always out of the way on the belt and not an impediment which I found to be a big plus.
The instructions for rifle shooters show that it is used to support the arm that is holding the buttstock and controlling the trigger of the rifle and I do differ from the company in this area insofar as to how a rifle shooter might use it. Personally I don't see the logic in that, since as I am a right handed shooter who supports the forestock with the left hand, I find the need for support being greatest under the forestock out under my left hand and not under my right arm per the illustrations on the packaging. Still, it's there as a support and you may use it as you find most convenient.
Following on from this, the need for a slightly longer apparatus then became apparent and this is where I wished the HIP STICK had been manufactured with a slightly longer reach. As a tall and broad shouldered man I did find the HIP STICK a little shorter than would be ideal for my own dimensions. There is no doubt, of course, that it is the right length for other applications where a longer ''hypotenuse'', if you imagine it as the long side of a triangle, is not needed. Using it seated from a hide or blind will clearly also be very convenient in a confined space and, again, its present length may be preferable for that application.
There seem to be many ways to use this obviously versatile shooting rest, though so far I have only used walking my friend's fields for shooting rabbits, and once on a distant fox out of the window of my car. A visit to the EBI website will give many ideas as to how it may be used. To date I have found it at its most useful walking across wide open fields where it has been especially useful in allowing me to take shots that might otherwise not have been viable.
After a hard uphill walk when the heart rate is elevated it is obviously harder for a hunter to be as precise in taking a shot than when rested and unstressed from exertion and this great little rest certainly offers that extra steadiness under those conditions and especially when there are only a few seconds available to take a shot. The HIP STICK won't bring your heart rate down but it sure will reduce the wobbles than a raised heart rate brings!
This is where its portability and speed of deployment come to the fore and can easily mean the difference between a clean kill and a miss. Obviously, larger animals offer bigger kill zones, but I am all for making the best shot I can, and I also note that it will work well when swinging and leading on a running target as it moves nicely with your swing.
Despite the extra cost I mentioned earlier, the HIP STICK has been a very worthwhile and satisfactory purchase that has proven to be excellent value for money. I'm giving an A- as an overall grade because of the small gripe I mentioned regarding length and the small locking nut size which I feel could have been made with just a tad more thought to user friendliness in that regard; but these are minor quibbles only and this is generally a most excellent product that I am very pleased to own and more than happy to recommend.