PUBLISHED: 13:36 25 January 2012 | UPDATED: 09:50 23 April 2012
Not only am I loving the hunting medium hereafter known as static lamping, I'm already involved in a crusade to bring it to the masses. Well, sort of.
I had a read-through of what I've written so far on the subject of static lamping, and it seemed to me that I'd over-enthused a tad about the Idleback chair, and specifically the essential blessings it brings to the method.
I stand by every word Ive written about the Idleback chair, and I have no hesitation in confirming its quality and effectiveness. Ill also endorse the customer service that comes with it, and the overall beneficial effect its had on my shooting. Oh yes, I love my Idleback chair with a manly passion, but at the very sharp end of 300 quid, it has to be said that some airgunners will have to deny themselves one. Thus, I went in search of a viable, cheaper alternative.
Deploy the Decoy
Browsing the various product catalogues, I flipped a page of Seelands mighty tome and there was my first solution. The Decoy Rucksack Chair with Backrest is not the most sexily-titled product on the market, but its name pretty much explains its purpose.
It weighs next-to-nothing, doubles as a rucksack easily big enough to take a dozen rabbits, and contains features like an internal divider to separate sarnies and shot quarry, a pair of flask (or buddy-bottle) holders, and a front cargo pocket to stash your spare pellets, magazines, clean-up gear, spare kit and anything essential you may need. It also has fully-padded, adjustable straps, a plush, velvety fabric on the fold-out seat, which has a high back support, and the rear leg section is padded, so it doesnt feel uncomfortable against your back when the Decoy Rucksack Chair with Backrest is being used as a rucksack.
At 70, the DRCwB is one top-value product, and Ive already used it successfully as a roving seat on a barbel fishing trip, but would it hold up on a static lamping session? By the time you read this, Ill know the answer to that, but with publishing deadlines kicking me hard toward the Christmas close-down, Ive only managed to fit in a couple of daylight familiarisation outings, and the latest of those was totally fog-bound. However, Im glad I did those dry runs because several bugs were surely zapped and wrinkles were positively ironed-out.
The first lesson I learned was that the rifle rest on the Idleback is every bit as important as the chair itself. First, I tried shooting from the chair with no rest at all, and that was a disaster. My effective range was 20 yards, and even then I couldnt repeat the sort of rapid accuracy Id need to snipe rabbits under the lamp.
Being a resourceful chap, I then went and cut myself a sturdy forked stick and tried a rustic solution, and while it helped, it just wasnt good enough. A quick chat to Airgun World technical editor, Phill Price, stabilised things through another product from the Seeland catalogue, when he introduced me to the Lux Shooting Stick.
This is a multi-adjustable, ultra-lightweight tripod, with a rubberised cradle on the top of it that forms a rifle rest. Finished in Erase XT cammo, at 99 the Lux isnt cheap, but it does a fine job.
Perhaps you enterprising airgunners out there could rig up a tripod of your own and save yourselves a ton, but even without that, the Lux and rucksack seat combo work out at 130 cheaper than an Idleback, plus you can use both products separately in other activities, so bringing them together makes all sorts of good sense. The harsh reality of life demands that I tell you these cheaper alternatives arent as wonderful as using an Idleback, but thats a pays for what you gets thing, so no surprise there.
At the time of writing Im ready to clamp on a lamp and take to the field, leaving the sanctuary of my Idleback and thrusting forward in search of enlightenment. Training on paper targets has proved the credentials of my cheaper solution, and my effective range is as close to 40 yards as makes no odds, breeze allowing, obviously. By next months issue Ill have triumphed or failed, so tune in for full disclosure.
As FLIR as the eye can see
Confession time, now; and more about that FLIR Scout PS infra-red optic I mentioned earlier. This ultra-hi-tech observation tool comes courtesy of Vickers Sports Optics and its the dream ticket as far as seeing without being seen is concerned. FLIR Forward Looking Infra-Red is the ultimate static lamping observation instrument. It needs no light source of any kind, detecting instead the heat signature of anything alive, or recently so; in fact anything that emits, conducts or retains heat of any kind, and thats most things. Just as with the larger Scout I tested a month or two ago, you can choose your observation mode and heat-sensitivity levels, and you can adjust the brightness too.
Rabbits appear either glowing red, white or black, according to the observation mode youve chosen, allowing you to spot your targets with no disturbance of any kind. When youve selected your rabbit, you ease yourself into position, flick on the lamp, and take the shot. Its a wonderfully efficient system, but with the FLIR Scout costing a spanking 1800 or very near offer, its a professional-grade commitment for most normal people. There are test samples that break my heart when I return them, and the FLIR Scout is that very item. One day maybe.
Warm hands, warm everything else
My final essential static lamping product couldnt be more simple, or more useful. Its the Zippo hand warmer, and trust me, its the best 20 you ever spent. A quick squirt of lighter fluid into the Zippos fuel reservoir is enough to keep the unit radiating warmth for up to 12 hours, and its ingenious design ensures that it never overheats or leaks. Splendid item, and perfect for keeping your trigger hand warm, comfy and ready to go. Range Sports is your source, and you can contact them on 01202 854 634.
Thats me for this months exciting static lamping update, and Ill be back at you in Februarys issue with the full lowdown on this fascinating (well I think it is), hunting method. By then Ill know enough to produce a full-on how-to piece, which may inspire you to try it for yourself, or put you off for life!