A shooting platform that is portable, allows for 360 degree motion, yet sturdy and comfortable enough to sit on for hours while shooting varmints?
That's the thought that went through my head as I wandered by the Idleback booth at the 2014 SHOT Show last January. My first glance of the chair lit up more than a few light bulbs in my brain, as I thought about all the ways I (or any varmint hunter) could utilize such a device! It was like looking at the Swiss Army Knife of shooting benches.
My history of shooting rests is long and varied. Back in the early 1990?s, I went from Harris bi-pods and home-made shooting sticks, to my first foray into an actual shooting bench. It was a custom made bench that I purchased from a man who advertised in one of the first "Varmint Hunter" magazines. For the time, it was very advanced and portable. However, set-up and break-down normally took about 10 to 15 minutes and it was not very versatile while shooting out in the field. Although the top can move 360 degrees, you only had a certain degree of motion before you had to stand-up and move your chair, which sat separate on the ground. When shooting wary varmints, any bit of movement sends them back into their holes, so although it worked well while shooting from a stationary spot, the bench's limits were evident whenever you needed to adjust. Needless to say, I kept looking for a better solution, trying many variants over the years which proved either very portable, but not sturdy, or sturdy, but not portable at all.
Now that you have a bit of history behind my search, let's go back to the 2014 SHOT Show and my visit to the Idleback booth. The folks at Idleback had one of their chairs set-up for attendees to try out right, so I took a long look at the set-up. The base was a mini-version of my original bench, with a lightweight, collapsible, tripod that the entire top system "plugged" into. The attached seat and rifle rest have full 360 degree motion, which allows the shooter to move quietly, in a full circle, with little effort. The seat that is attached to the legs, consists of a padded chair that has a sturdy back (also padded), which folds down allowing the shooter to step on and off of the chair easily. The entire package folds down into a portable unit, that can be slung over your shoulder with the included strap and moved anywhere you want. The thing I liked the best, was the fact that you did not have to take this chair apart to move it. A few turns of some knobs and it folds up into a size that is manageable by anyone.
After studying the chair for a few minutes, it became available for me to hop on and take it for a test spin. Getting on was easy enough, but figuring out where to hold my hands and arms while tucking myself behind the mock rifle took a few moments to get used to, but once I got adjusted, it was evident I was over-thinking it and tucked my hand into my regular shooting position. Motion was smooth, and as advertised, you could move a full 360 degrees with hardly any effort. As I tucked my cheek onto the mock rifle on the rest, I also found that moving slightly, in either direction, in order to track your target, was a dream. My next question was simple, "Can I get one to try out in the field?"