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Why You Should Always Carry a Lightweight Shooting Bag on Your Rifle Hunt

Hunters have a lot of options at their disposal to help steady a shot in the field. Shooting slings, bipods, and shooting sticks all have their place in a hunter’s bag of tricks. But for me, the most versatile and useful shooting aid is a fabric bag that contains a lightweight fill.

The one I’ve used more than any other is Armageddon Gear’s Game Changer, but there are plenty of different options out there and if you have access to a heavy-duty sewing machine and know how to use it, you can make one yourself.

I carry this bag everywhere I hunt or shoot, and once you learn how to use one, you’ll probably want it with you all the time as well. What I really like about the Game Changer are its overall dimensions and the rabbit-ear configuration, which allows it to adapt to a wide range of situations. The bag is about 11 inches long and 5 inches wide, and weighs less than 2 pounds.

Once you learn to use a lightweight shooting bag, you’ll probably want it with you every time you carry a rifle afield.
Once you learn to use a lightweight shooting bag, you’ll probably want it with you every time you carry a rifle afield. (Bill Buckley/)

You can use a bag in conjunction with a bipod to create a solid support from a prone position. This technique is what most people think of when using a bag.

But because of its size and shape, you can set it on a lot of different surfaces and rest the rifle right on top of it. It can sit on a log, a rock, a fence post, or even across the rail in a tree stand. Generally speaking, you’ll place the rifle so that the bag is right in front of the trigger guard, under the rifle’s balance point.

For a rock-solid foundation, the author leans into the bipod on his Springfield Model 2020 Waypoint while adding a shooting bag to support the rifle's stock.
For a rock-solid foundation, the author leans into the bipod on his Springfield Model 2020 Waypoint while adding a shooting bag to support the rifle's stock. (Bill Buckley/)

I’ve used a bag off a tree branch it to kill a nice bull elk in timber, and I tagged one of my best mule deer off the bag in Utah while resting it on top of a rock. That mule deer was bedded 440 yards away in tall sage and I had to wait a couple hours before he finally stood up and presented a shot. Because the rifle was balanced securely on the bag, I had my scope on him the entire time without needing to keep my hands on the rifle, preventing undue fatigue.

How you position the bag depends on the situation. When possible, you want to place it on its side and have the rifle in line with its full length. This gives you the most support and control.

But there are times where you’ll want to run it sideways, or with the ears pointing up.

To rest his Springfield Waypoint on a fence post, the author positions the bag with the ear flaps facing. This securely cradles the rifle.
To rest his Springfield Waypoint on a fence post, the author positions the bag with the ear flaps facing. This securely cradles the rifle. (Bill Buckley/)

Once the bag’s in position, give it a little smack with the stock as you put the rifle on it. That will help the fill set and make the shot steadier.

To control the rifle, take your off hand and place it on top of the scope. This will steady the crosshairs and let you fine tune your point of aim. Alternately, you can grab the bag and the stock on your rifle and pinch them together. Practice both ways using dry fire practice to refine your technique.

To control the rifle, take your off hand and place it on top of the scope. This will steady the crosshairs and let you fine tune your point of aim.
To control the rifle, take your off hand and place it on top of the scope. This will steady the crosshairs and let you fine tune your point of aim. (Bill Buckley/)

Be mindful of all the other marksmanship fundamentals—breath control, trigger control, and getting square behind the rifle with the butt in the pocket of your shoulder—and you’ll be surprised at how accurately you can shoot off a bag.

Be mindful off all the other marksmanship fundamentals, including trigger control.
Be mindful off all the other marksmanship fundamentals, including trigger control. (Bill Buckley/)

I’ve lost count of the number of animals I’ve shot off bags like this, and, honestly, if someone told me I could use only a single type of shooting aid I wouldn’t hesitate to pick a bag like this instead of a bipod or shooting sticks. It’s that good.

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