Old Dogs & New Tricks
Thoughtful Gifting Ideas
Most in the outdoors associate "shooter" with someone who enjoys recreational firearms. I'd include myself in that group, although I'd hesitate to add the word "competitive" despite the fact I do shoot in competitions. I participate
. Good shooters compete
But there's another shooter in the outdoors- the photographer. There are almost as many types of those shooters as there are gun enthusiasts. Landscape, wildlife, and underwater photographers are like sporting clay, three gun and long-distance shooters in one way: each of them uses specialized (and generally expensive) equipment.
Makes both challenging, especially at Christmas time. It's difficult to buy them something useful that's also thoughtful - especially if you're looking at something other than a "major" gift.
Today, three suggestions for the "shooter" on your list. One each for firearms and cameras and a "combo" suggestion that would work for either (or both).
Whether you're using a modern sporting rifle, .22 rimfire or handgun, Chamber View's blaze orange inserts let you know the guns are safe whether they're on the bench (above) or in the safe (below).
Competition shooting events are nearly fanatical about safety. After all, the tools of these competitions are capable of causing serious injuries-or worse- if not safely handled.
That's why it's important to be able to see - quickly- whether a firearm's "safe" or not. Chamber View products (www.chamber-view.com
) makes a wide range of safe indicators, enabling you to "See Safety Fast". They feature blaze orange silicon devices that fit in the action of your firearm. With them inserted correctly, you can tell in an instant that a firearm is "safe".
Chamber View makes their inserts to fit almost any gun from shotguns to AR-10/15s, semi-auto pistols, .22 caliber rifles/pistols. There's also a universal handgun unit.
You can get them from a variety of online retailers including Amazon (they're most expensive there), Brownells, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's, and Optics Planet and the prices vary from $8.59-$12.45 per unit.
If you're looking for a small gift that's still thoughtful -or affordable stocking stuffers for shooters on your list, they're worth a look.
The "other" shooters on your list differ from the firearms shooters in one key area- a tendency to carry more than one shooting device at a time. Rather than spend time changing lenses, advanced amateurs and pros are more likely to carry multiple cameras and change between them as the shooting situation dictates.
Having operated for years with a minimum of two and sometimes three cameras around my neck, I can tell you it's a pain in more ways than one. I've tried nearly every "system" out there, and have found them all useful in some, but not all, situations.
But for wildlife and bird photography, I've decided the one that best suits me is the Cotton Carrier dual camera system. Rather than try and describe it, I'll simply say that the photo really is worth 1,000 words in this instance.
This system distributes weight on the shoulders and hips, and off the neck. That's big when you're talking about moving around with heavy gear, because a long day shooting means a very tired neck if you're carrying all the weight there. It's also more comforting to know that your gear is secure
when you're moving.
For the image "shooter" who likes to go afield, consider the Cotton Carrier 2-camera system. If you're looking at a wildlife shooter, go for the camo -but they're available in black as well.
Using a Cotton Carrier system while covering everything from hurricanes to hummingbirds, I've taken more than one spill. While my carrier unit definitely shows the wear and tear, it's never let my gear take the impact. No one enjoys taking a tumble, but it's a whole lot easier to dust off your pride than realize you've trashed a piece of gear.
The Cotton Carrier 2-camera system isn't cheap, but it's still under $100 and can bring your photographer neck relief and reassurance that the expensive gear's not going to go flying in the event of a misstep.
They're available in 1-or 2-camera configurations from online photo dealers like B&H or Adorama -you can learn more about them at www.cottoncarrier.com
And finally, the little item that will be a hit with both types of shooters is one that I only discovered a few months ago, but have come to depend on for everything from basic illumination to "setups" for video and still photography.
It's the Litra Torch. Billed as "Studio Lighting in Your Pocket" it's an inch-and-a-half cube of LEDs and batteries that is switchable from 100 to 800 lumens of flicker free, wide-beam lighting.
The Litra Torch is small enough that you can put a unit in your jacket pocket and forget it's there- until you need light. And it will deliver up to 800 lumens for up to 4 hours before it needs a recharge.
It was designed to be the ultimate light companion for action cameras like the GoPro, but the little units are quickly becoming must-have tools for everyone from still photographers to videographers who occasionally need a little "boost" in their lighting.
And unlike most lighting, these little units aren't just tough
, they're waterproof
to 15 feet. Makes sense, because they were designed to be used with action cams on anything from motorcycles to surfboards.
In short, they're the most useful little lights I've ever seen. To the point that I've started carrying three of them in my video kit -and I never carry a camera without one of them tossed in the bag "just in case."
Last week during a trip to Smith & Wesson, I tossed the (included) diffuser on a Litra and used it to give me a little emphasis lighting on a shooting stage. It's the same setup I used when the lights went out at home the other day. Sitting the Litra on a tabletop with the diffuser at the lowest setting (100 lumens), I had plenty of illumination to move around the house - and a runtime that outlasted the power failure.
Check them out at www.litra.com
and you may find they're something you want to add to your "kit" -whether it's for photography, camping or your bugout bag. If you do, don't hesitate to get them now- because there's special holiday pricing in place right now at B&H Photo (www.bhphoto.com
) and Hunt's Photo (www.huntsphotoandvideo.com
) where you can get a Litra for $59.95 - that's $20 less than the price I paid just a few weeks ago.
No one ever said you shouldn't get a great deal on a great gift, right?