With the growing popularity of the NRL hunter match format of competition, and probably due to how much fun it is, having the right gear without carrying too much is the key to be ready for any situation or stage that you may face. A tripod is one of those essential pieces of kit you cannot go without in the NRL Hunter competition format, because often you have to get higher off the ground, out of the grass or bush to just be able to see, let alone spot the targets. You will also need the tripod not only to shoot from, as a stable platform to keep your rangefinder or rangefinding binoculars steady on so you can spot the targets and then accurately range them while on the clock.
In the NRL hunter match, a tripod should be carried as you would carry it when on a walking hunt, so not fully deployed, but the legs may be slightly extended to for instance your kneeling height, but with the tripod legs folded together, so there is still some slight deployment on the clock. You may also clamp your tripod to your rifle through the use of the Arca clamp or a picatinny rail, but although very stable, but that is not ideal.
The reason why I recommend using a shooting bag on the tripod instead of having the rifle clamped into a arca or picatinny clamp, is that when you shoot a shot with the clamped onto the tripod, the recoil causes the tripod to swing backwards, which lifts the sight off the target, meaning you cannot spot your hits or misses and follow-up shots take longer to make. Yes, you will have recoil, because of the 381 000 power factor minimum limit of the NRL Hunter rules, combined with the maximum weight limit of the rifles, these rifle have more recoil than normal PRS and NRL racegun rifles. When you rather have your rifle resting on a sand shooting bag on top of your tripod, the rifle then rather slides backwards directly during a shot so you can keep your eyes on target for follow-up shots or follow-through better.
Leofoto LS-323C 3 Section Ranger Travel Carbon Fiber Tripod
This great little tripod from Leofoto is in my opinion perfect for the NRL hunter match format, as it only has 3 leg sections instead of 4, so it deploys faster than a 4 section tripod, it is also lighter because of that. Because it does not have the bowl head section at the top, it folds in smaller in diameter than other tripods making carrying it combined with the lighter weight perfect for the longer walks with all the gear like is done on the NRL hunter competitions.
Some may prefer a ballhead on the tripod, in which case I suggest the best one for rifle manipulation below, be while myself and other prefer a platform directly on the tripod so a bag can be placed on it, I prefer to buy this tripod without any ballhead.
Naturescapes Tripod Top Platform / Tac table
Now this little contraption, is actually the gamechanger for myself for the NRL hunter league and also for tripod use during actual hunting. I mounts on top of the tripod, and then provides enough surface area to place the sand-filled shooting bag like a Armageddon Gamechanger or the Wiebad Fortune Cookie on top, rest your rifle on that, and be as stable or more so than any other method.
It was actually designed as a photography ground pod skid, but I repurposed it as my tac table and I cannot be more thrilled with the use. I also recommend sticking a piece of grip tape on top if it to prevent your shooting bag from sliding off easily.
Wiebad Fortune Cookie Bag
With it’s heavy sand fill, and it’s innovative shape what allows it to be used on any surface from slanted to flat and even a thin pole, the Wiebad Fortune Cookie bag is perfect to obtain stability with your rifle rested on it. I use it placed on it’s side on top of the tac table platform mentioned above, so I get as much surface area as possible with the tac table as well as with the rifle resting on it.
SUNWAYFOTO PMB-18 Inverted Low Profile Ball Head
If you still prefer to have your rifle clamped into the arca clamp on a tripod, this is the one I sometimes use and recommend. Because it is inverted and has a lever to release and lock the ball, it is easy and quick to manipulate the rifle position and point of aim. It is also very light and does not make the tripod top heavy like most other ballheads do.
Leofoto Push Button Quick Detach Modular Tripod Strap
A great additional piece of equipment for your tripod, this quick detach strap makes hands-free carry of your tripod easy whether you have a backpack or not.
Leofoto QDC-32 32mm Clasp
If you do not like a strap hanging off your tripod, you already carry a backpack for NRL hunter, but you still want a handsfree carry option for your tripod, this clamp screwed to one of the tripod legs, allows your to attach it to a QD swivel that you attached on your backpack strap.
A tripod tac table is a fairly recent innovation with many guys just making their own, and some brands officially launching a few, it is meant to add a bigger platform on top of your tripod for your to rest you shooting bag on for either resting binoculars on for spotting hits, or resting your rifle on to shoot from it.
Leofoto vs RRS
People used to think of Leofoto as a copy or imitation of the Really Right Stuff tripods and gear, well they may have copied or borrowed some of the design cues originally to tap into the shooting market, but haven’t most modern innovations copied some cues from other? Thankfully they learned and evolved to research, develop and design their own shooting tripod and rest innovations that have revolutionized the precision rifle shooting game. To be honest, RRS also just borrowed / copied the use of Arca rails, Arca clamps, Tripod and ballheads from other established photography tripod brands and manufacturers, so it may be somewhat hypocritical to then call Leofoto a copier if that is what RRS also initially was.
Best Shooting Tripod for Hunting
Because the NRL hunter league is meant to mimic the walking hunt environment, the tripods and gear that I have chosen and used for the NRL league above, do work just as well for actual hunting, and I have taken more than 20 animals from this tripod setup of mine in the last year. This set-u above together makes the best predator hunting tripod I have used so far, because it is quick to setup, allows fast movement around the tripod for panning, and your rifle is not clamped to the tripod if you have to move away from it quickly. Definitely my predator hunting tripod choice I am packing on a bear hunt.