When I buy something that cost a little money, I like to know the story behind it. What was the creator or inventor thinking? Is there something interesting that would be fun to know about? I’ll start out by stating I really didn’t want to get into the camera arm or tree arm building business. I was happy making handgun rest. A phone call back in 2011 from the great state of Louisiana was what got it all started. It wasn’t just a routine phone call, it was the very first time my company phone ever rang. The caller asked me if there was a way to hunt from a treestand using the Trifecta Handgun Rest. I designed the original Trifecta Handgun Rest as a tripod attachment. I didn’t have a good answer for him. My mind started turning after that conversation. I asked myself how I can design something that was light enough, and simple enough. I think as soon as a certain line is crossed, the fun factor leaves handgun hunting and most people will go back to a rifle.
Should something attach to the front of the stand? Can I attach something to me? The only thing that really made sense was to utilize a tree arm. Hunters have been filming their hunts with them for a few years and they just seem to work. Why not replace the camera with a handgun rest I asked?
My next task was to just find a tree arm and buy it. I spent several hours doing internet searches and watching videos. I even contacted a few companies to ask if their arm would work with my handgun rest. In the end, I just couldn’t find what I was looking for. Nobody had the load capacity, ease of use, arm reach, or value I was looking for. A tree arm has to have those four factors if it is going to be effective for handgun hunting. The big name brands didn’t have the value or ease of use. The rest were just “me too” products trying to grab a piece of a very small pie.
I won’t bore you with all the ideas that went through my head in the months following that phone call. It ending up taking three years to design and then prototype ideas. I worked with a few engineers to come up with different designs. In the end, it was the prototypes that taught me what to do. Most of the early models didn’t pass the destructive testing we like to do. Leverage is a killer in making tree arms. As soon as some weight was added to the arms, the early models just couldn’t handle it. So what makes the Trifecta HD Tree Arm different?
Skeletized Aluminum Arms– This is a term I came up with. The arms are made of extruded aluminum. If you have ever worked in a production facility, you have no doubt seen this type of material. It is used to make work stations, test machines, racking, etc. The company who makes it calls the product the industrial erector set. It is very versatile and light weight. Perfect for making camera arms.
Cam Cleat- These are used in the sailing world to quickly pull sail lines tight and attach them to something in less than a second. I guess speed is a big factor in sailing. I wouldn’t know because the whole idea scares me. I wanted to use only cam cleats to fasten the tree arm to the tree, but they just wouldn’t hold the arm stable enough under load. I did learn that I could attach the arm to the the tree and have my hands free in seconds. Free hands meant I could attach the retractable ratchet strap without hugging the tree. I could also check to see if I was happy with the location. If not, it would take almost no effort to make an adjustment. I think the cam cleat is something all hunters will be thankful for.
Retractable Ratchet Strap– Have you ever put up ladder stands and attached ratchet straps? Probably not all good experiences if you have. They are usually a tangled mess that requires you to untwist and then fish the lead end trough the cam buckle and tighten. When I saw all the tree arm manufactures using these, I thought no way am I going to want to do that every time I hunt. Sure I could buy a bunch of base plates and leave them in the field, but that’s expensive. When I found retractable ratchet straps, I knew that was the way to tighten the arm to the tree. You may have seen these if you own a boat. They are typically used to hold the transom onto the trailer. Just hold the button down and pull out as much slack as you need and attach. The retractable ratchet strap works in unison with the cam cleat. When you are done hunting, the strap retracts back into the unit.
Friction Hinges- Think about how your hands work when you want to hold onto something like a basketball. You spread you hands wide and clamp onto the ball with your thumb on one side and four fingers on the other. Now imagine doing the same thing without using your thumb. That is what the competition is doing. They all use a narrow flat base plate and then make the ratchet strap do all the work. Our base is comprised of three separate plates held together by friction hinges. The unit is now squeezing and grabbing the tree. This is especially important when the arm is fully stretched out and pivoted to the extreme left or right. The four corner spikes fully engage the tree. The base plate is used for leveling the entire unit. No external leveling systems are needed.
Magic Sliders. You have probably seen these if you watch late night infomercials. I know I do. These were designed to attach to the feet of your sofa or heavy chair. They are very slippery on the bottom allowing even weaklings to move heavy furniture. When I saw these, my eyes lit up. They would be perfect to use on a tree arm, I said to myself. We use five magic sliders on our tree arms. Three with the base unit and two under the front part of the arm assembly. Tree arms should be smooth and silent. Magic Sliders are a big part of a quiet system.
Dual Quick Release Plates. I love the whole AR15 concept. You can attach what you want or not attach it if you don’t want to. We drilled an extra hole in the forward arm to give the user the ability to attach a second piece of equipment. If you are a dedicated camera man, You can now film the hunter and his intended target with two separate cameras. You can also run two types of cameras. How about a camcorder for speed and a DSLR for those artsy shots that move the story. Get creative! If you don’t want or need two pieces of equipment, you are not paying for something extra. We just drilled an extra hole.
Elevator Screws– There are a couple things I like about these, They work and they are inexpensive. Oh yea, they are also fast. All the hunter or camera man needs to do is hold the arm level and then role these in his fingers until the base touches the bark of the tree. Why over-engineer and complicate the leveling process if you don’t have to? They may not be pretty, but they just work.
When I design something, I really want my competition to think “Now What?” I want to make them rethink their product,and force me to do the same. Designing something for a sport I truly love is so rewarding. I hope this post let you into a little of how my brain works. I think it might be scary to know too much. Have a safe and prosperous handgun hunting season. Brian