Okay, Tom, what the h!#$ is it? Well, honestly it threw me for a loop too when I first saw it at SHOT Show (this year). A number of entertaining comments, and even some pointers to similar products, were posted by you readers. That said, I still received one to actually spend some time with, and I found it to actually work pretty well.
Basically it is a formed leather “board/plate” that has a ball and socket joint mounted to it. The “ball” portion is attached to a collapsible stick/rod with a locking mechanism and a rubberized “fork” at the end.
The part that rests against your body, the “plate”, has slots for a belt. The unit comes with a one and a half inch length of flat webbing that has a side release buckle attached to it.
So, I first used this at a local 3-Gun match. It was fortunate in that the course ended with three long range rifle shots. The intention of the course was to move from the last pistol position and transition to a prone-ish position about ten meters away. With the Steadify, I was able to engage the targets while standing, as soon as I retrieved my rifle from the staging box. A definite savings of time. Despite the initial pokes and jabs from the other competitors, there was some begrudging respect for the utility of it after I was able to take the shots and make them without having to move (initially I had missed a couple of shots because I had just changed to 75 grain ammo and neglected to re-zero my rifle).
I then decided to use it in what I assume is the more standard way, a more static rifle shoot. I tried it from both standing and kneeling positions, and with a couple of different rifles, including a heavy bolt action. I found that it really absorbed the gun’s weight–not technically correct, I suppose, but it definitely altered my perception of it’s weight.
When bringing the Steadify up, I also found that I could keep my eyes on the target. I would imagine with traditional shooting sticks there would be a downward glance to confirm placement on the ground (not having used a set, can anyone confirm?). In any case, there is no need to confirm placement since you know right where the rod is.
I also tried it with my spotting scope to see if it would provide an stability for that. It actually worked pretty well. There was a little bit of shaking at the terminal distance (it is a 60x scope), but not so much that it was unusable.
As an adjunct support, I think it worked very well, especially once I practiced with it and dialed in the operation. It did take a few tries to get smooth with extending the rod and locking the sleeve in place. I found that if I had the rod twisted a little wrong to begin with, it would bind up as I tried to rotate it around the pivot point. Once I realized that the issue was with the way I was resetting it, it was an easy problem to fix.
There are two main things I disliked about it. The first was moving with it. It kind of interfered with my leg movement as I was running around, and I did have a lot of crap on my shooting belt all around it. Again, this was an issue of using it outside of it’s lane (i.e. in a 3-Gun match), but still something to note. It is a stiff board that overlaps your inguinal crease, so the mechanic of lifting your leg, as in walking or running, has to move the board up as well.
The second complaint is that the belt portion has nothing anchoring it, so the buckle can slide right off. I think if you were seriously using this, it would be attached to your own belt, but I would have at least like to see a simple stitched fold on the end of the webbing to stop it from unthreading completely.
Now that I have been to a “legit” 3-Gun competition, I’m not sure that the Steadify is all that appropriate in that venue. That said, my understanding of Open Class 3-gunners is that they will try nearly anything for that millisecond advantage… 🙂
Regardless of that, I think this product definitely has merit for shooters/hunters that need a stabilizer, and for shooters that may have orthopedic injuries (e.g. can’t go down to a knee or prone). It is also rapidly deployable, so as an on the spot support, it works very well.
I can also see the utility for optics, like spotting scopes, and even possibly cameras with large lenses.
Comparing to “shooting sticks” I think this has an advantage in weight, size and speed of use. Having not directly compared to shooting sticks, however, I cannot evaluate if one provides more stability than the other.
You can find out more information at: https://www.steadify.de/