If it looks stupid, but it works…..it ain’t stupid!
Tactical rifle shooters tend to be a dogmatic bunch. If it looks different or challenges the way we think, we shy away. This was the viewpoint I took when I first saw “tactical pillows” show up at rifle matches. In my eyes they were bulky and looked incredibly silly. Then I used one.
I started my tactical rifle life with a military issued rifle, hauling all the associated support gear, comm equipment, water and if any room was left, a couple bites of chow. If it wasn’t absolutely needed to keep us moving forward or stop us from rotting away, it stayed in the rear. This mindset crippled me from accepting the “tactical pillow”. It was big and bulky. I watched how guys where using them. I believed that I could use my shooting sling to the same effect. I kept this mindset until we had to shoot a rooftop stage in a recent PRS match. The peak of the roof and the method I planned on using to engage the targets would make my little “brick” rear bag useless. My shooting partner was using a “Todd Tac Pack” from WieBad.com. This is a 9” x 11” x 4” bag with a lightweight filler and two elastic straps across the top. He offered me the use of his bag. I slipped it on my support arm and I was able to get enough height to stabilize the rear of the rifle. In fact it was rock steady.
When we came back from the match I started researching the bags. I ran over to WieBad.com and saw that they had a larger bag called the “Pump Pillow”. The “Pump Pillow” is a duplicate of the “Todd Tac Pack” but twice as high at 9” x 11” x 7”. The name conjured up all manner of jokes. While browsing the page I learned it was named the “Pump Pillow” after Chase “Pump” Stroud who is a member of the GA Precision Shooting Team. After watching the video it is obvious that Chase is a bit of a body builder and hopefully that is the source of the nickname “Pump”. The video was helpful in figuring out why WieBad calls it the “Pump Pillow” but also in demonstrating how it can be used.
Many shooting support bags are used to stabilize the rifle. Bags like the “Todd Tac Pack” and “Pump Pillow” are used to stabilize the body while the body holds the rifle. Sure you can just jam the pillow under the stock, and in some cases this is the best option. However I found that it works very well to fill the “holes” in your bone support and contributes to muscular relaxation. Relaxation directly contributes to more rounds on target.
I have just started training with the tactical pillows, but in my first session out on the barricade I could tell that it firmed up my position. I also wanted make sure I wasn’t attempting to justify an expensive piece of gear. Once I was warm and verified I was rocking a 380 yard 25% IPSC target from the barricade with the “Pump Pillow”, I ditched it and shot a string without. Even attempting to run a lower position and using as much contact between my leg and arm, I still could not get as stable as I was with the “Pump Pillow”.
If the “Pump Pillow” only helped out on the barricade, I believe it would have justified its $106 price. However I can see how the pillow will aid in any number of positions and props. The “Pump Pillow” is fairly versatile and can be slipped over the rifle to increase the hight of a shooting position. Slipped over either arm for higher support in the prone or even stacked on your pack to elevate your bipod.
The “Pump Pillow” and “Todd Tac Pack” are extremely well made. The material appears to be 1000D nylon. The elastic bands and cordage across the top make adjusting the fit to your arm very easy. The filler is the amazing part of the bag. It is fairly lightweight (8 oz. for the “Todd” and 20 oz. for the “Pump”) but holds its shape well when pressure is applied. It doesn’t deflate like a bed pillow would. The included polymer carabiner makes it easy to clip to a pack, war belt or sling.
While I don’t go in for all the “gucci” kit out there. In this case I am definitely a convert. My “Pump Pillow” will accompany me to all my future precision rifle matches. It may even help alleviate neck cramps from long car rides or airline trips!