This shot bag tutorial is not meant to be an all-covering comprehensive guide. Rather it is a set of information, tips and advices that may help You choose the best shot bag for your needs.
A shot bag is a ready to use, easily applicable ballast and counterweight bag. It’s construction is thought to make it simple to wrap around an object. A shot bag usually consists of one or two pockets filled with steel shot, often accompanied by a strap for easier grip. The pockets are rather flexible, which makes them easy to mold and fit in the required space.
Typical instances of use include: stabilising legs of lighting and grip stands, weighting and securing wind-affected objects like umbrellas, banner stands or tents, ballasting watercraft, testing load capacity in automotive and aeronautics. Shot bags are commonly used in the filmmaking industry and most frequently purchased by big rental companies and TV producers. Thanks to the stainless properties of steel and small volume for their mass, shot bags very often serve as ballast on boats.
Primarily it’s the weight of steel that makes it so appealing. Keeping the same weight, the size of a shot bag can be reduced by a half compared to a sandbag. This means they are far more convenient to use, move around, able to fit in tiny spaces and finally incomparably easier to store.
Next thing is maintenance. Sandbags are known to be messy: they can leave a print when dropped, are more probable to spill and need refilling to keep consistent weight. This means unnecessary dirt, as well as may result in uneven weight distribution. None of that occurs in the case of shot bags.
One last thing is how the bags react to wet working environment. Shot bags don’t absorb water and therefore won’t become too heavy when soaked. They also require far less time to dry than sandbags.
Shot bags can have various types of filling. The leading material is steel, although other may happen. More important is the form of the filling. Most popular is pellet, yet balls or globules are also used. These types of filling will act differently in certain situations, eg. balls have more mass for a volume, but will be more dangerous and harder to contain if spilled. That being said, be aware of the exact application for your shotbags when choosing one.
Another difference would be the type of closure. Shot bags can either be sewn shut, or have an opening (zipper or velcro), allowing to exchange the filling, take some away, or add in specific situation. We manufacture both types, each having a protective second pocket inside.
When it comes to additional equipment, we added a chrome plated ring and a durable handle perpendicular to the bag’s length. They help fixing the bag on a stand.