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Idleback Chair

Idleback Chair

Every now and then, a product comes along, about which I think two things. The first is, “Now that’s a good idea”, closely followed by, “I wish I’d thought of that!” One such item was being demonstrated at the British Shooting Show in Newark earlier this year, and it immediately struck me as being the ideal shooting partner for an awful lot of shooters.

The idea is a simple one; a heavy duty but portable shooting chair that supports not only the shooter, but the rifle as well. The base is a three-legged tripod, rather like that found on a land surveyor’s theodolite. The legs are height adjustable via thumb wheels, with projections at the front to enable you to push the legs into the ground if necessary. The legs are sturdily constructed from alloy, making them strong yet light, an important factor considering the item’s intended use. A machined alloy swivel housing that incorporates a pair of heavy duty sealed bearings joins the legs, it also includes a clutch mechanism that is adjustable via a knurled wheel underneath. This is used to control the rate of rotation should it be necessary, or to lock the chair in position. To the top of this unit is the seat base, which is made of high-density foam rubber; a neat touch is the Idleback logo embossed in the material. To the rear of the seat base is the bar that holds the padded lumber support, which can be used by both right and left handed shooters by simply removing the rear pad, flipping it over and reattaching it. The chair uses locking pins to hold several components in place and they make adjustments very simple.

At the front there is the height adjustable gun support arm, with the padded gun cradle at the top, that can also pivot left and right, and up and down. The height adjuster has a synthetic insert to stop the thumb wheel marking the alloy, a clever touch that will keep the product looking good over the years. The rifle support can also be angled forward and back, so the user can adjust the Idleback to their heart’s content. Two more knurled wheels lock the bar in position. The metal components are either water jet cut steel or alloy tubing, finished in a hardwearing olive green plastic coating.

The overall impression is of a very well designed and manufactured product that will withstand a lot of hard use over many, many years. It has the look and feel of a piece of military equipment, that wouldn’t look out of place in the back of an army Land Rover!

The Design Team

The design engineer behind the Idleback Chair is Darren Walsham, and he was originally asked by his father-in-law and business partner Trevor Horner to come up with a seat that would make long ratting sessions more comfortable. Terry needed to be able to sit still for extended periods of time whilst holding his air rifle at the ready, and the prototype chair proved to be an instant success. Its ability to swivel when required, yet provide a solid shooting platform when stationary, resulted in large bags of rodents and also woodpigeons when roost shooting at dusk.
The production units are very well thought out and manufactured affairs, and Darren has turned Trevor’s ideas into reality. I was very impressed with the overall package as soon as I opened the box. The Idleback Chair does require some assembly, but if you can’t put one together, you shouldn’t be allowed out on your own! It only takes a few minutes and you’re done. The assembly instructions are very comprehensive and I didn’t encounter any problems.

Range Time

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Once set up, the chair moves effortlessly round on the bearing beneath the seat pad, and the lumber support stops you slumping down in the seat. The rifle nestles into the cradle at the front, and once balanced, it remains securely in position. You sit on the chair with your left leg against the rifle support (if you’re right handed) and shoot slightly across the chair; this makes for a very natural shooting position. The ability to adjust the legs allows you to get very comfortable, no matter how tall or short you are, and you can obviously adjust the legs when the chair is used on soft or uneven ground. I’ve used the Idleback for some extended zeroing sessions whilst evaluating several rifles, and my bad back didn’t put in an appearance, which it normally would. After sitting still for 4 hours, my back would usually be agony, but I had absolutely no pain at all. In the field, it’s the ideal way to remain motionless whilst waiting for quarry, and with some cammo gear or a ghillie suit on, you can really blend in with your surroundings. The chair weighs 7.8kgs, so isn’t too heavy to move from one shooting position to another. One thing I should point out is that you should remove the rifle from the cradle when you get off the chair, otherwise your rifle will take a nasty tumble. Shooting from the chair proved to be deadly accurate and very comfortable, so it certainly looks like the time spent developing it has been well worth it.

A Chair For All seasons

I can see the Idleback Chair appealing to an awful lot of shooters, whether they’re shooting targets on the range, or rabbits, pigeons, foxes etc., in the field. From perfectly fit individuals young and old, shooters like myself with a dodgy back, people with bad joints, heart problems etc., not forgetting lazy so-and-sos who just like sitting on their backsides! (Ed: Watch it!)

I shoot with a chap with rheumatoid arthritis and he has to use a lightweight air rifle, but with one of these chairs, his choice of equipment would not be so limited. I’m not saying every shooter in the land will be buying one of these nifty inventions, but it certainly has a lot to offer many, many people.

Army snipers and police marksman could utilise these chairs as well, as they often have to remain ready for action for hours on end, in slightly more stressful situations than a vermin control trip on the local farm!

There are already accessories in the pipeline, such as a vehicle mount that fits in the back of a pickup, so Darren and his team are obviously on the ball. I think bird watchers and nature lovers could also benefit from one of these seats, with possibly a bracket for a spotting scope or camera instead of the rifle cradle.

Conclusion

I’m obviously a big fan of the Idleback Chair, and it’s been nice to see it progress from prototype to production, and it’s proved to be every bit as good as I thought it would be. As I said before, I just wish I’d thought of it…

The usual price is £310, but there is currently an introductory price of £275, which I think is excellent value for such a superb bit of kit.

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