Rapid Access Targeting System (R.A.T.S.) By Dog-Gon-Hit, REVIEW
By Roy Chiappini
I’m one of those guys constantly searching for a better way to do things. One of my quests has been for a good, portable shooting bench. I’ve made several attempts at building something acceptable but they have never passed the usability test. I’ve seen offerings at the sporting goods store and perused the catalogues. None were appealing enough to warrant expending the asked for funds. Thus when the opportunity presented itself to evaluate someone else’s version of a portable shooting rest my interest was piqued.
Ben Boomersbach in his garage in Green Valley Arizona makes the R.A.T.S, Rapid Access Targeting System. Ben was great to talk with and explained the motivation for his development of the R.A.T.S. Ben knows his stuff.
Once the shooting bench arrived, inspection revealed a very well made unit. Packaging was first class with the total weight being surprisingly light. Welds and powder coating are very well done. This thing will take some heavy-duty use. When set up the base is solid and the rifle rest provides a wide range of movement.
Initial assembly took just under 2 minutes. Subsequent setup in the field was always under one minute. It is easy to carry, and I found it comfortable to pack over a mile through sage and sand dunes in 95 degree temperatures. With a less than 1 minute setup time it’s great for field use when moving from set to set when Mr. Yote is the goal.
The gimbal setup is a nifty though touchy device. It is a simple trailer hitch 2” ball set in a properly formed plastic pipe segment with an easily adjustable tension device. I tested it with rifles including a single shot Rossi .22, Mossberg 308 Youth Rifle, Sig 556, 14 lb. 270 Allen Magnum and a 16 lb. 375 Allen Magnum. The heavier the front-end weight the more critical the tension setting. I was uncomfortable when the heavy barreled rifles were in the unit as they seemed too front-heavy.
My intended use for this type of device is starling shooting, coyote sets and PD shooting. I can’t see myself shifting from bipod, sand bag and prone shooting for long range and extremely long range shooting. I would suggest that the RATS would fit very well into the under 450 - 500 yard range with an appropriate rifle.
First shots with the RATS were in the backyard with my grandson’s Rossi single shot .22. Range was 65 yards. The first six shots showed 2 groups with one group an inch above the other, indicating importance of consistency in body to rifle contact. After those 6 shots the remainder went into the about-an-inch capability of the rifle. I was pleased knowing that squirrels and starlings were in big trouble.
What about the rapid access capability? I can envision tracking an incoming coyote and multiple coyotes within range. How quickly and smoothly could the reticle be placed where it needed to be? A trip to neighbor Jim’s was in order. Jim is an innovator, recognized shooter, holds a national championship, coyote hunting buddy and all-around good guy.
Jim’s 22 cal, 50 yard silhouette setup would be a good test. The objective would be clean the stand of rams, pigs, turkeys and chickens as fast as possible. A stopwatch would add the necessary pressure. Test rifles were Ruger 10/22 rifles. 10-shot magazines were used. With 20 target critters a reload was necessary to complete the 20 shot relay.
I suckered Jim into being the first shooter. As I mentioned Jim is a fellow innovator and gave the unit a thorough inspection as he assembled it. He liked what he saw and was excited to give it a go.
At this point the RATS was “as delivered” with no tinkering applied. The first two video clips show Jim’s shooting. It went well up to the chickens. Those little targets take some concentration to hit. Jim was embarrassed missing the last several chickens. That was, until he learned that I snookered him by reloading the clip with cartridges that I had brought, not the ones with which the rifle was sighted. My bad! LOL!
The unit, as delivered, while adequate was a bit jerky in movement. We felt this to be unsatisfactory. Envision a couple of innovative, imaginative fellas giving close inspection to the gimbal setup. The solution seemed simple enough. A rat-tail file was used to smooth the edges of the cut slots in the plastic ball holder. A slight amount of white grease was carefully selected from Jim’s vast lubricant selection and applied to the inside of the ball holder. Tension was readjusted and another round fired. Shown in the third and fourth video clips.
Note the times and comments. The unit gave much more confidence with this simple lubrication.
To show off Jim’s offhand shooting ability the 5th video clip shows the “impossible shot.” Once in awhile a shot will turn a chicken perpendicular to the line of fire. This happened and Jim couldn’t resist the opportunity to shoot, and I couldn’t resist documenting the shot - hit or miss. Check this . . . off hand! Did I mention he holds a national championship?
In summary, the RATS in my estimation is well suited for its designed use, which for this writer is shooting under 500 yards with a varmint weight or lighter rifle. My rating of this shooting system is a solid 8 when compared to bipod/rear bag, which I give a 10. This unit is not one of those that will suffer from lack of use and is well worth the price. The R.A.T.S. will be a go-to piece of equipment for many of my future field-shooting trips.