Three-legged shooting sticks are almost universally used in African hunting. They get you above low vegetation and off the ground, away from thorns and creepy-crawlies. They’re great for fast shots at closer ranges and useful in a wide variety of situations. Steadiness improves with practice; the trick is to get the height right so you can lean in and properly place your supporting hand so that you have contact with both sticks and the gun’s fore-end, tying them together.
Some wobble is unavoidable, restricting effective range. There are several tricks that can increase steadiness and thus extend shooting distances when standing with sticks. As with most shooting positions, it aids steadiness if you can stabilize or support the shooting elbow.
When hunting with a partner or guide, practice what I call the “buddy system.” Ideally, when a shot is in the offing, the buddy sets up the sticks at the correct height for the shooter. Then, the buddy stands beside the sticks on the shooting side and bends down from the waist, grasping the rear two tripod legs. The shooter can then rest his/her shooting elbow on the buddy’s shoulder. This needs to be practiced, and hearing protection is essential, but this trick can double one’s effective range off of sticks.
With two or more people hunting together, two sticks are better than one! A second set of sticks can be placed tightly under the shooter’s shooting-side armpit; we call this the “chicken wing.” The second set of sticks can also be erected under the shooting arm and used instead to directly support the rifle butt. This takes extra seconds to get the height right, but it can achieve near-benchrest stability. As with all shooting, practice is the key, so get or make a set of three-legged shooting sticks and try these techniques at your range.