Today’s post is my first one looking at some of the kit I use. When I first started HFT I didn’t have a shooting mat. But now I wouldn’t go without one (unless I forget it!).
When I first started going to some of the practice grounds, I shot standing, kneeling or sitting on scraps of cardboard. This was fine until I started looking at shooting in competitions.
In most HFT competitions, the majority of the shots are taken in the prone position. In this case there a few benefits to using a mat:
- Keeps you and your gun out of the mud (less of an issue in the dry)
- Much more comfortable than a hard floor
- Comfort = stability
I had a look online to see what was available, but in general I don’t like buying something unless I can try it first. So I held off and had a look in the garage to see what I could find.
What I found was a camping mat. Quite thick and comfortable to lie on. Perfect I thought. And to be fair it was ok but had a couple of issues. First it was a bit awkward to fold or roll up, and therefore a bit awkward to carry. Not a huge deal, you get used to it.
The bigger issue was the width of it. Getting both elbows on the mat meant having a narrow stance. i.e elbows close into the body. Everyone shoots differently, so this might be fine for some people. For me it wasn’t as stable as a wider stance. This meant I was either unstable in the wet, or off the mat in the dry.
The pictures show the narrow stance, and also my right leg in the ‘mud’.
I used the camping mat for a while, and for the first competition I entered. Then I started thinking about upgrading. The ‘proper’ HFT mats seem to be around £50 and up. Not too bad really, considering the cost of the guns we have that need keeping mud free!
However, this blog is for beginners, by a beginner. And sometimes costs need to be kept down. This brings me to the mat I have now. My girlfriend found it by accident in Ikea and thought it looked just right for HFT.
It’s called the ‘PLUFSIG’. No idea what that means, so helpfully it is also called the ‘Ikea Toddler Play Mat’. The mat folds into 5 sections, so it is much easier to carry around than the camping mat I had before. Just weighed it on the kitchen scales and it comes to
164 1640 grams [Sorry for the typo]. This thing is ridiculously light. I’ve seen other gym mats of a similar size up to 7kg.
I don’t have any other shooting mats to compare with, so I got some some dimensions off the internet for one I have seen for sale:
- Ikea Mat
- Length (unfolded) = 185cm
- Width = 78cm
- Thickness = 3.2cm
- Shooting Mat
- Length (unfolded) = 173cm
- Width = 89cm
- Thickness = Not available
So it’s fairly comparable with other mats you might find.
The actual shooting mats do benefit from having handles on. Fortunately my girlfriend sewed on three ribbons/handles. These work perfectly for folding/picking up the mat with one hand.
Since using this wider mat, stability of prone shots has definitely improved. I don’t have to worry about my elbows resting on stones or roots anymore and can just concentrate on the shot. Well worth a go for beginners on a budget.