DSUK’s own Chris Rogers reviews the Viper-Flex® quad shooting sticks and explains how they have converted him from quad stick hater to fan.
When it comes to stalking accessories, shooting sticks are always a hotly debated topic. People like what they like and tend to stick to their preferred set up, whether or not it is the best on the market. Stalkers that practice with any sort of sticks can become highly accurate with them. Of course this is the best outcome for confidence in your own shooting, and ultimately for a humane kill-shot on a deer.
Like most stalkers, I have gone through a number of sticks, starting with a single, then a twin, onto a tripod (which I have used for the majority of my professional deer management career), before eventually being converted to quad sticks in December 2015. I’d always had a real issue with quad sticks. Looking back, this was because I’d only ever seen home-made ones, with a cross at either end. For the majority of stalking I take clients out on, they were too restrictive to allow for tracking deer left and right in woodland while waiting for a gap in the trees to take a shot. Also, most clients that brought them had clearly never practised with them and would end up in a real mess when a quick shot had to be taken. For an efficient deer cull, with or without paying clients, possible opportunities should not be missed.
So, after such a hatred for quad sticks, what converted me to the Viper-Flex quad sticks? Well, to start with the manufacturer has clearly seen the same issues with home-made sticks and fixed the problems. The crossed sticks at either end have been replaced: a flat fronted top allows your rifle’s forend to move left and right; and the rear cross is replaced with a notch which your stock sits in. For me this is the main benefit of the sticks and, having tried, it’s hard to replicate this in a home-made set. Using wooden dowel, of a size not too large to make them like carrying telegraph poles around, the sticks just aren’t ridged enough to take the weight of the rifle.
I use them in two main ways. For quick, close-range shots I keep the back legs closed and effectively use them as twin sticks. This would be up to a range of say 70m. Or, if time allows or the distance is pushing on further, I bring the back legs into play and use them as a full quad set. Used like this on the range, it is incredible how accurate one can be at distance. However, as we all know, the range is one thing and live quarry should be treated with more respect.
With practice, the sticks can also be used for taking shots prone. This is achieved by keeping them as a single set and resting one end over your non-shooting shoulder, with the sticks pointing out in front of you. This is no substitute for a bipod, but it’s a good back up if you have left it at home! The manufacturer also states that the sticks can be used for support while on driven hunts, with the same configuration coming in handy for use when calling roe bucks or muntjac to you.
Viper-Flex sticks are fully height-adjustable, thanks to spring-loaded buttons, and the manufacturer states that they are usable by stalkers between 1.20-2.10m tall. Unless you are running clients like me, once you’ve set the height of the sticks you like, you don’t need to alter them again. The legs are numbered, so you can easily reset your desired height if you reduce them to fit in a car. Mine just stay extended in the back of my truck, stored in a plastic drain pipe to stop the dog covering them in hair and dirt.
There are two models of quad stick available. I use the Original model for day to day use in my job. They are made from black, anodised aluminium and weigh-in at 1.1kgs, these retract to 1.1m. The other model is called the Journey, which I have used abroad and out of the two are my preferred set of sticks. The Journey model has carbon fibre sections making up the middle of the sticks; reducing weight, making them warmer to hold in the winter and also small enough to fit in a suitcase.
When you buy a set of Viper-Flex sticks they will now come with clip grip covers. These cover the holes that allow you to adjust the height of the sticks. In the past the holes have attracted criticism for whistling in windy conditions. The clip grips also reduce the cold on your hands from the aluminium in the winter. For anyone that already has a pair of Viper-Flex sticks, clip grips are available free of charge – or simply cover up the holes using some black electrical tape.
An additional single leg can also be purchased for use with both the Original and the Journey models. This fifth leg attaches to the front of the Viper-Flex sticks and effectively allows you to rest the rifle in the sticks, fully self supported, without any movement from your body at all. However, for most this will be a step too far, and some will no doubt feel it is an unnecessary addition.
There is also a wide angle front and rear cradle for your rifle to sit in. This fits both models and allows more left and right movement than the standard size. Three notches in the rear cradle allow for more left and right movement than is possible with the original, single rear notch.
And the newly released Go-Lo attachments, which are added in between the quad legs and the cradle to allow the legs to open right up and give the shooter the ability to shoot from a kneeling or sitting position. Although I have tried using the Go-Lo attachments, for our relatively flat landscape in East Anglia they seem to be of little advantage. However, I’m sure they have a better application on hilly ground or when sitting up in ambush locations.
- Extremely well made with no screws (which often come loose and fall out with other types of sticks) and should last you a lifetime.
- Flat front rest enabling you to move the rifle left and right without moving the entire set of sticks, as you would have to with home-made, crossed-top sticks.
- In my opinion, the most stable manufactured sticks on the market.
- The Original model is probably a little heavier than home-made sticks from wooden dowel.
- Can be a little noisy when first used, but this is soon overcome with practice.
Deer stalkers are some of the most stubborn people you will find in society. Some will always know better, want to make their own sticks, or buy the cheaper alternatives. However, as a professional using sticks every day I know that home-made sticks eventually break and cheap sticks fall apart with heavy use. I am convinced that the old saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ certainly applies to shooting sticks. There simply aren’t any better made or more stable shooting sticks on the market in the UK. For a recreational stalker I can’t believe that Viper-Flex sticks won’t last you a lifetime, and for other professionals in the industry I’m sure these sticks will serve you well for many years before having to be replaced. I would also say that using these quad sticks has definitely increased the accuracy of clients that stalk with me, which in turn has led to a higher clean-kill rate on the deer.
Elite SRP £169
Elite Fifth Leg SRP £45
Journey SRP £249
Journey Fifth Leg SRP £55
Wide angled cradles SRP £45
Go-Lo attachments SRP £47
Available to buy from www.shooterssuppliesuk.com