Title:
FIREARM SUPPORTS AND GAS-ASSISTED METHODS OF FILLING FIREARM SUPPORTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A firearm support configured for gas-assisted filling with particulate matter having an enclosure with a cavity, first and second portions, and particulate matter disposed in the cavity. The enclosure has an inlet through which the particulate matter is introduced in the cavity during a gas-assisted filling process, and an outlet configured to generally retain the particulate matter and allow gas to escape from the cavity during the gas-assisted filling process. Alternatively, the enclosure includes a vent having a porosity configured to permit gas to escape from the cavity during the filling process.



Inventors:
Potterfield, Russell A. (Columbia, MO, US)
Application Number:
12/037336
Publication Date:
10/30/2008
Filing Date:
02/26/2008
Assignee:
Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. (Columbia, MO, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41C27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAYES, BRET C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PERKINS COIE LLP - SEA General (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
I/We claim:

1. A firearm support configured for gas-assisted filling with particulate matter, the support comprising: an enclosure having a cavity, a first portion configured to support a firearm, and a second portion attached to the first portion; an inlet in the enclosure through which the particulate matter is introduced in the cavity during a gas-assisted filling process; and an outlet configured to generally retain the particulate matter in the cavity and allow gas to escape from the cavity during the gas-assisted filling process.

2. The firearm support of claim 1 wherein the enclosure comprises a flexible enclosure.

3. The firearm support of claim 1 wherein the inlet comprises a third portion, the third portion being configured to extend away from the second portion in an open position when the particulate matter is introduced in the cavity and be retained against the second portion in a closed position after the gas-assisted filling process.

4. The firearm support of claim 3 wherein the closed position comprises closing the inlet and folding and retaining the third portion against the second portion.

5. The firearm support of claim 3 wherein the outlet is positioned proximate to the third portion and is at least partially covered by the third portion when the third portion is placed in the closed position.

6. The firearm support of claim 3 wherein the outlet is positioned on the third portion and is at least partially covered by the third portion when the third portion is placed in the closed position.

7. The firearm support of claim 3 wherein the outlet is positioned in the third portion proximate to the inlet.

8. The firearm support of claim 1 wherein the inlet comprises a third portion that extends away from the cavity when the particulate matter is introduced in the cavity, and the outlet comprises a fourth portion that extends away from the cavity when the gas is allowed to escape from the cavity, wherein the inlet and the outlet are folded and retained against the second portion after the gas-assisted filling process.

9. The firearm support of claim 1 wherein the outlet is configured to receive a suction mechanism for removing the gas during the gas-assisted filling process.

10. The firearm support of claim 1 wherein the outlet is configured to allow the gas to exit from the enclosure at least as fast as the gas is received into the enclosure.

11. The firearm support of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of outlets.

12. A firearm support configured for gas-assisted filling, the firearm support comprising: a flexible body defining a cavity; an opening in the body sized to receive a filling mechanism during a gas-assisted filling process; and a vent in the body having a porosity configured to permit a gas to escape from the cavity while retaining the filler material in the cavity during the filling process.

13. The firearm support of claim 12, further comprising a plurality of vents having porosities configured to permit the gas to escape from the cavity while retaining filler material in the cavity during the filling process.

14. The firearm support of claim 12 wherein the flexible body further comprises an upper portion composed of a first material for supporting the firearm and a lower portion composed of a second material and containing the opening and the vent, wherein the opening is composed of the second material and the vent is composed of a third material.

15. The firearm support of claim 12 wherein: the opening comprises an inlet sleeve that is configured to be closed and retained proximate to the body after the filling process.

16. The firearm support of claim 15, further comprising a strap attached to the lower portion, wherein the strap retains the inlet sleeve proximate to the body.

17. The firearm support of claim 15 wherein the vent is positioned proximate to the inlet sleeve such that the inlet sleeve at least partially covers the vent when the inlet sleeve is retained proximate to the body.

18. The firearm support of claim 15 wherein the vent is positioned on the inlet sleeve and is at least partially covered by the inlet sleeve when the inlet sleeve is retained proximate to the body.

19. The firearm support of claim 15 wherein the vent is positioned in the inlet sleeve and is configured to be closed after the filling process.

20. The firearm support of claim 12 wherein: the opening comprises an inlet sleeve that is configured to be closed and retained proximate to the body after the filling process; and the vent comprises an outlet sleeve that is configured to be closed and retained proximate to the body after the filling process.

21. The firearm support of claim 12 wherein the filler material comprises particulate matter.

22. A firearm support containing a filler material, the support comprising: a cover having first and second portions defining an enclosure, wherein the first portion is composed of a first material having a first porosity and a second material having a second porosity different from the first porosity, and the second portion is composed of a third material having a third porosity different from the first and second porosities; and an inlet at the first portion, the inlet being configured to receive a mixture of a gas and particulate matter, wherein the combination of the first, second and third porosities is configured to allow the gas to flow through the first portion and exit the enclosure during a gas-assisted filling process while retaining the filler material in the enclosure.

23. The firearm support of claim 22 wherein the cover comprises a flexible cover.

24. The firearm support of claim 22 wherein the inlet is composed of the first material and further comprises an open position extending away from the second portion and a closed position folded and retained against the second portion, the support further comprising: a gas exit region of the first portion positioned proximate to the inlet, wherein the gas exit region is composed of the second material and configured to allow the gas to flow through the gas exit region at a greater rate than through the second portion and to be at least partially covered by the inlet when the inlet is in the closed position.

25. The firearm support of claim 22 wherein the third porosity does not allow the gas to flow through the second portion and the second porosity at least partially allows the gas to flow through the second portion.

26. The firearm support of claim 22 wherein the third material comprises leather.

27. The firearm support of claim 22 wherein the filler material comprises particulate matter.

28. A method of at least partially filling a firearm support with filler material, the method comprising: flowing a mixture of gas and particulate matter into a cavity in the firearm support through an inlet; and venting the gas from the cavity while flowing the mixture in the cavity.

29. The method of claim 28 wherein evacuating the gas from the cavity comprises allowing the gas to exit from the cavity at a rate at least as fast as the rate of the gas entering the bag.

30. The method of claim 28 wherein: the cavity comprises first, second and third materials each being non-permeable to the particulate matter; and evacuating the gas from the cavity comprises allowing the gas to exit through at least the first and second materials.

31. The method of claim 30 wherein the first and second materials are permeable to the gas.

32. The method of claim 28 wherein evacuating the gas from the cavity comprises removing the gas from the cavity using a vacuum source.

33. A method of constructing a firearm support bag for gas-assisted filling with a filling material, the method comprising: constructing a body having a generally flexible enclosure; forming an inlet in the flexible enclosure, the inlet being configured to introduce particulate matter in the flexible enclosure during a gas-assisted filling process; and forming an outlet in the flexible enclosure, the outlet being configured to allow gas to exit the flexible enclosure while the retaining particulate matter during the gas-assisted filling process.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims priority under U.S.C. § 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/891,687, filed Feb. 26, 2007, the disclosure of which in incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure is directed to firearm supports, such as firearm shooting bags, configured for gas-assisted filling, and methods of filling firearm supports.

BACKGROUND

Shooters often use shooting bags to support a firearm during target practice and accuracy testing. For example, shooters can place the forestock of a rifle on a front bag and the buttstock of a rifle on a rear bag. The front bag is typically larger than the rear bag and can include an arcuate or v-shaped top surface sized to support the forestock of the rifle. The rear bag may include an arcuate or v-shaped surface sized to support the buttstock of rifle. Other shooting bags are sized to support the entire rifle or a portion of a rifle so that a second bag is not needed. For example, one such shooting bag includes a long U- or V-shaped opening sized to receive several inches of a rifle stock to support the entire rifle. Additional shooting bags have different shapes designed for other applications.

Conventional shooting bags include (a) a fabric or leather cover that encloses an internal cavity, and (b) particulate matter filling the entire internal cavity. One drawback associated with filling conventional shooting bags is the time and effort required to sufficiently pack the internal cavity with the particulate matter. A shooting bag should be firmly packed with the particulate matter so that the shooting bag retains its shape and provides a stable support for the firearm. Accordingly, filling conventional shooting bags often requires human interface to evenly distribute the particulate matter and ensure that the bags are firmly packed. For example, shooting bags that are mechanically filled often require a dowel or similar device to tamp the particulate matter in the internal cavity. Gravity assisted methods of filling the internal cavity are also used, however gravity-assisted methods generally do not pack the bags firmly enough to provide adequate stability when supporting a firearm. The mechanical or gravity assisted methods of filling the bags therefore require additional steps and/or human interface that increase the time and expense of filling the bags. Accordingly, there exists a need to improve conventional shooting bags and the method of filling conventional shooting bags.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is schematic side cross-sectional view of a firearm support and a method of filling a firearm support in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2A is schematic isometric view of the firearm support in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2B is schematic isometric view of a firearm support in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2C is schematic isometric view of a firearm support in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2D is schematic isometric view of a firearm support in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is schematic side cross-sectional view of a firearm support and a method of filling a firearm support in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic isometric view of a firearm support in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating a method of gas-assisted filling of a firearm support in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating a method of constructing a firearm support in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A. Overview

The following disclosure describes several embodiments of firearm support (e.g., firearm shooting bags) and methods of filling firearm supports. One aspect of the invention is directed to a firearm support configured for gas-assisted filling with particulate matter. In one embodiment, a firearm support includes an enclosure having a cavity, first and second portions, and particulate matter disposed in the cavity. The enclosure includes an inlet through which the particulate matter is introduced in the cavity during a gas-assisted filling process, and an outlet configured to generally retain the particulate matter and allow gas to escape from the cavity during the gas-assisted filling process.

In another embodiment, a firearm support includes a flexible body defining a cavity and filler material disposed within the cavity. The body includes an opening for receiving a filling mechanism during a gas-assisted filling process, and a vent having a porosity configured to permit gas to escape from the cavity while retaining filler material in the cavity during the filling process.

Another aspect of the invention is directed to a firearm support configured for a gas-assisted filling with a filler material. The firearm support includes a cover having first and second portions defining an enclosure. The first portion is composed of a first material having a first porosity and a second material having a second porosity different from the first porosity. The second portion is also composed of a third material having a third porosity different from the first and second porosities The first portion includes an inlet configured to receive a mixture of a gas and particulate matter. The combination of the first, second and third porosities is configured to allow the gas to flow through the first portion and exit the enclosure during a gas-assisted filing process while retaining the filler material in the enclosure.

Another aspect of the invention is directed to a method of filling a firearm support with filler material. The method includes flowing a mixture of gas and particulate matter into a cavity in the firearm support through an inlet and evacuating the gas via a vent from the cavity while flowing the mixture in the cavity.

Another aspect of the invention is directed to a method for constructing a firearm support bag for gas-assisted filling with a filling material. The method includes constructing a body having a generally flexible enclosure and forming an inlet in the flexible enclosure. The inlet is configured to introduce particulate matter in the flexible enclosure during a gas-assisted filling process. The method further includes forming an outlet in the enclosure. The outlet is configured to allow gas to exit the flexible enclosure while retaining particulate matter during the gas-assisted filling process.

Specific details of several embodiments of the invention are described below with reference to firearm supports and methods of filling firearm supports. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the firearm supports configured for gas-assisted filling are also suitable for use with gravity assisted filling. Several details describing well-known structures or processes often associated with firearm supports and methods of filling firearm supports are not set forth in the following description for purposes of brevity and clarity. Also, several other embodiments of the invention can have different configurations, components, or procedures than those described in this section. A person of ordinary skill in the art, therefore, will understand that the invention may have other embodiments with additional elements, or that the invention may have other embodiments without several of the elements shown and described below with reference to FIGS. 1-6.

Where the context permits, singular or plural terms may also include the plural or singular term, respectively. Moreover, unless the word “or” is expressly limited to mean only a single item exclusive from other items in reference to a list of at least two items, then the use of “or” in such a list is to be interpreted as including (a) any single item in the list, (b) all of the items in the list, or (c) any combination of the items in the list. Additionally, the term “comprising” is used throughout to mean including at least the recited feature(s) such that any greater number of the same features and/or other types of features and components are not precluded.

B. EMBODIMENTS OF FIREARM SUPPORTS CONFIGURED FOR GAS-ASSISTED FILLING

FIG. 1 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a system 100 including a firearm support configured for gas-assisted filling in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The illustrated system 100 includes a firearm support 110 that can be used to support a firearm (not shown) individually or with other firearm supports. For example, the firearm support 110 can be configured for supporting a barrel, forestock and/or buttstock of the firearm. The firearm support 110 can also be configured for supporting one portion of the firearm in conjunction with another firearm support configured to support a different portion of the firearm. In other applications, the firearm support 110 can be configured to support a firearm without the use of other firearm supports.

The firearm support 110 includes a body 112 generally configured for supporting a firearm. The body 112 can be composed of an inorganic material, such as fabric, or an organic material such as leather. The body 112 can include multiple portions attached together forming the body 112. For example, the illustrated body 112 includes a first portion 114 attached to a second portion 116 configured to at least partially support a portion of the firearm. The first and second portions 114 and 116 can be composed of different materials and attached together by sewing, gluing, riveting or other suitable attachment methods. In several embodiments, the first portion 114 can be composed of a fabric, and the second portion 116 can be composed of leather, plastic, rubber or other non-marring materials. Although the first portion 114 and the second portion 116 are composed of generally flexible materials, in several embodiments the first or second portions 114 or 116 may include a relatively inflexible material.

The second portion 116 illustrated in FIG. 1 includes a recess 118 configured to at least partially receive a portion of the firearm. The recess 118 has a generally U-shaped configuration to inhibit side-to-side movement of the firearm and support the firearm in an upright position. In other embodiments, the second portion 116 may include different shaped configurations, or the second portion 116 may not include a recess 118 for receiving a portion of the firearm. In other embodiments, the general shape of the body 112 may differ and is not limited to the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1.

The body 112 further defines a cavity 120 configured for receiving and being filled with a filler material such as particulate matter 162. The particulate matter 162 can include sand, dried rice, kitty litter or other suitable granulated media. The body 112 also includes an inlet 122 for introducing a combination of gas and particulate matter 162 into the cavity 120. The inlet may be configured for receiving a nozzle (not shown) for introducing the gas and particulate matter 162 in the cavity 120 during a gas-assisted filling process. The body 112 also includes an outlet 124 configured to allow the gas to flow out of the cavity 120, as disclosed in more detail below. In the embodiment of the firearm support 110 illustrated in FIG. 1, the inlet 122 and the outlet 124 are located on a bottom surface 115 of the body 112, however the locations of the inlet 122 and the outlet 124 are not limited to the bottom surface 115. For example, the inlet 122 and/or the outlet 124 can be located on the second portion 116 or on a side surface 117 of the body 112.

The outlet 124 is configured to retain the particulate matter 162 in the cavity 120 and to allow gas to flow or escape from the cavity 120 during the gas assisted filling process. As indicated by arrows 126, gas can escape from the cavity 120 through the outlet 124 simultaneously as the gas and particulate matter 162 enter the cavity through the inlet 122. In several embodiments, the outlet 124 may be composed of a material that is permeable to the gas but not to the particulate matter 162. For example, the outlet 124 may be composed of a material having a porosity that allows the gas to pass through the outlet 124 while retaining the particulate matter 162 in the cavity 120. Accordingly, the outlet may comprise a vent, valve, screen, mesh or other material.

The system 100 further includes a delivery system 145 for delivering gas and particulate matter 162 to the firearm support 112. The delivery system includes a gas source 150 and a particulate matter source 160. A gas from the gas source 150 is combined with particulate matter from the particulate matter source 160 and introduced in the cavity 120 through the inlet 122. For example, the particulate matter 162 may be combined with the gas downstream from the gas source 150. According to alternative embodiments, a gas line from the gas source 150 can include a regulator 152, and a gas line from the particulate matter source 160 can include a regulator 154. The regulators 152 and 154 allow a user to control the fill rate by controlling the amount of gas or particulate matter dispense. The regulators further allow different combinations and mixtures of gas or particulate matter for different bags. As the combination of gas and particulate matter 162 enters and fills the cavity 120, the outlet 124 permits the gas to escape from the cavity 120 as indicated by the arrows 126 while retaining the particulate matter 162 in the cavity 120.

The system 100 also includes an optional pump 170, indicated by broken lines, that may be operably coupled to the outlet 124 of the body 112. The pump 170 may consist of a vacuum or suction mechanism that evacuates the gas from the cavity 120 as the combination of the gas and the particulate matter is introduced in the cavity 120. Accordingly, in embodiments with the pump 170 coupled to the outlet 124, the pump 170 may assist in removing the gas more quickly from the cavity 120 resulting in a faster filling time.

The disclosed system 100 and firearm support configured for gas-assisted filling with particulate matter enables adequately filling of the firearm support bag with little or no human interface. For example, during a gas-assisted filling process where the particulate matter 162 enters the cavity 120, gas is permitted to exit the cavity 120 through the outlet 124, thus allowing the bag to fill with the particulate matter such that the firearm support 110 is packed firm enough to support a firearm in a stable manner. The system 100 also provides for a less-expensive and time consuming process, as additional steps of tamping or repacking the bag may not be required to adjust the amount of particulate matter 162 that fills the cavity 120. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the firearm support 110 is also configured and suitable for use with gravity-assisted filling methods. For example, when the particulate matter 162 enters the cavity 120 under the force of gravity, the configuration of the outlet 124 allows air in the cavity 120 to escape as the particulate matter 162 fills the cavity.

FIG. 2A is a schematic isometric view of a firearm support 110 similar to the firearm support illustrated in FIG. 1. In FIG. 2A and the following Figures, similar reference characters are used to indicate similar features of the embodiments. Referring to FIG. 2A, the second portion 116 of the body 112 does not include a recess 118 as shown in FIG. 1. Moreover, in FIG. 2A the body 112 includes a third portion 202 extending away from the first portion 114 of the firearm support 110. The third portion 202 may be formed of a flexible material that is the same as or different from the material that makes up the body 112. For example, the third portion 202 may be a sleeve or similar structure that contains the inlet 122 for introducing particulate matter 162 in the cavity 120. In several embodiments, the third portion 202 is configured to receive a nozzle 207 for introducing a combination of gas and particulate matter 162 in the cavity 120. In certain embodiments, the nozzle 207 includes a positional indicia (shown in broken lines) 209 that indicates the depth of the nozzle insertion in the third portion 202. For example, the indicia 209 can include a line or marking on the nozzle 207 that will align with a top end of the third portion 202. In other embodiments, the indicia 209 is not used when the nozzle 207 is inserted in the third portion 202. For example, a portion of the nozzle 207 can be sized to be approximately equal to the size of the inlet 122, such that the third portion 202 will receive the appropriate insertion depth of the nozzle 207. The third portion 202 may also be configured to be closed after the gas-assisted filling process, such that particulate matter 162 cannot exit the cavity 120 through the inlet 122 after the third portion 202 is closed. For example, a closure mechanism 204 located in or on the third portion 202 may close the third portion 202, thus effectively closing the inlet 122, following the filling process. The closure mechanism 204 may include, but is not limited to, hook and loop mechanisms such as Velcro, buttons, snaps, a zipper, being sewn shut, or any other suitable mechanism for closing the third portion 202. Alternatively, the third portion 202 may not include a closure mechanism 204 in several embodiments where the third portion 202 is retained proximate to the body 112, as described in more detail below.

The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2A also shows the outlet 124 positioned proximate to the third portion 202 on the bottom surface 115 of the first portion 114. It will be appreciated that the inlet 122 and the outlet 124, as well as the third portion 202, can be positioned at other locations around the body 112. Similar to FIG. 1, the outlet 124 may be composed of a material that retains the particulate matter 116 in the cavity 120 while allowing a gas to flow through the outlet 124. For example, such a material may consist of, but is not limited to, a mesh or screen material 220 that has a porosity different from the material of the first and second portions 114 and 116. Accordingly, the material 220 may be less durable than the materials of the other portions of the body 112.

FIG. 2B is a schematic isometric view of a firearm support 110 similar to the firearm supports illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2A, according to another embodiment of the invention. FIG. 2B illustrates several different shapes of the body 112 and configurations and placements of the outlet 124. Referring to FIG. 2B, the second portion 116 does not include a recess 118 as shown in FIG. 1, but rather a plurality of shallow recesses 119a, 119b and 119c. It will be appreciated that the number or configuration of recesses may differ from that illustrated in FIG. 2B. Referring specifically to FIG. 2B, the outlet 124 is shown as positioned on a sidewall 206 of the third portion 202. The outlet 124 may also be positioned to cover a portion of the sidewall 206 of the third portion 202 in addition to an area proximate to the third portion 202. For example, the outlet 124 may be positioned on a portion of the sidewall 206 of the third portion 202 while also positioned on at least part of the 115 bottom surface of the first portion 114, such that the outlet 124 covers an interface 208 of the sidewall 206 and the bottom surface 115. In other embodiments the outlet 124 may also cover the entire sidewall 206 of the third portion 202. FIG. 2B also illustrates a plurality of outlets 302a, 302b and 302c configured to retain particulate matter 162 in the cavity 120 while allowing gas to flow through the outlets 302a-302c. In several embodiments the outlet(s) may be shaped according to ease of manufacture and ability to retain the particulate matter 162 while allowing sufficient airflow out of the cavity 120. For example, the shape and size of the outlet(s) may differ according to the size and shape of the firearm support 110 and the location of the outlet(s). Accordingly, one skilled in the art will appreciate that single or multiple outlets 124 having varying shapes may be placed in different locations around the body 112.

FIG. 2C is a schematic isometric view of a firearm support 110 similar to the firearm supports illustrated in FIGS. 1-2B, according to another embodiment of the invention. FIG. 2C illustrates a configuration of the body 112 and placement of the outlet 124 with respect to the third portion 202. Referring to FIG. 2C, the second portion 116 does not include a recess 118 as shown in FIG. 1, but rather, the body 112 illustrates another shape suitable for supporting firearms. One side of the body 112 may generally taper form the first portion 114 to the second portion 116 such that the first portion 114 is generally larger than the second portion 116. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2C, the third portion 202 can include both the inlet 122 and the outlet 124. For example, the third portion 202 may be divided between the inlet 122 and the outlet 124 by fastening the third portion 202 to itself, as represented by the seam 210 extending from the base to the top of the third portion 202. In several embodiments, the third portion 202 may be divided as described, or alternatively as separate portions or sleeves formed to contain the inlet 122 and the outlet 124. As described above, a closure mechanism 204 (illustrated in FIG. 2A) may be used to close the third portion 202 containing the inlet 122 and the outlet 124. Moreover, other outlets 124 located proximate to the third portion 202 or on other portions of the body 112 may be used.

The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2C also includes a nozzle 211 having a first nozzle portion 213 and a second nozzle portion 215. The first portion 213 introduces the gas and particulate matter into the inlet 122, and the second portion 215 vents the gas from the outlet 124. In certain embodiments, the second portion 215 of the nozzle 211 includes a porous cover over the end of the second portion 215 to prevent the particulate matter from escaping from the support 110. The first and second portions 213 and 215 can be positioned in a larger housing 217 (shown in broken lines), or in alternative embodiments the first and second portions 213 and 215 can be secured together by a belt or band 219 (shown in broken lines). Moreover, in certain embodiments, the second portion can vent the gas from the support 100. For example, the second portion can be coupled to a pump or a vacuum source 221 (shown schematically) to remove the gas from the outlet 124 of the support 110. FIG. 2C also illustrates a second nozzle 223 configured for gas-assisted filling of firearm supports. The nozzle 223 is inserted in a portion 225 that is configured similar to the third portion 202 described above. Multiple nozzles and/or locations of nozzles enables uniform and sufficient filling of firearm supports. For example, supports having different shapes and sizes may require more than one nozzle to sufficiently pack the particulate matter during the filling process.

FIG. 2D is a schematic isometric view of a firearm support 110 similar to the firearm supports illustrated in FIGS. 1-2C, according to another embodiment of the invention. FIG. 2D illustrates a configuration of the outlet 124 located in a fourth portion 402 extending away from the first portion 114. In several embodiments, the fourth portion 402 may have a similar structure to the third portion 202 described above. For example, the fourth portion 402 may be a sleeve type structure containing the outlet 124 for allowing the gas to escape from the cavity 120 while retaining particulate matter 162. Moreover, the fourth portion 402 may be configured to be closed after the gas-assisted filling process with closure mechanisms similar to the closure mechanism 204 described above regarding the third portion 202.

FIG. 2E is a schematic isometric view of a firearm support 110 similar to the firearm supports illustrated in FIGS. 1-2D, according to another embodiment of the invention. In FIG. 2E, the third portion 202 (and/or the fourth portion 402 which is not shown) may be configured such that the third portion 202 is folded proximate to the bottom surface 115. When the third portion 202 is in a folded position, the third portion 202 forms a generally planar surface with the bottom surface 115 to provide a stable support for a firearm. In additional, the third portion 202 at least partially covers the outlet 124 (shown in broken lines) when the third portion 202 is folded. Covering the outlet 124 protects the outlet 124 which may be composed of a material less durable than the material of the other portions of the body 112. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the third portion can be located and folded at other positions on the body 112, such as the side surface 117. In several embodiments, the fourth portion 402 of FIG. 2D may also be folded in a manner similar to the third portion 202 as illustrated in FIG. 2E. Accordingly, the third portion 202 may at least partially cover the fourth portion 402 and form a substantially planar surface when the portions are folded proximate to the back surface 115.

In addition to folding the third portion 202 proximate to the back surface 115, the third portion 202 may also be at least partially retained proximate to the back surface 115 (or other surfaces where the third portion 202 is located). In several embodiments, a strap 502 may be used to retain the third portion 202. The strap 502 may be connected to the first portion 114 of the body 112 at the ends 504 of the strap 502. Accordingly, the third portion 202 may be tucked under the strap 502 after the gas-assisted filling process. If a fourth portion 402 is used, the fourth portion may also be retained by the strap 502 (not shown in FIG. 2E). Other holding mechanisms may be used to retain the third portion 202 proximate to the body 112. For example, the third portion may be retained against the back surface 115 by a hook and loop mechanism such as Velcro, buttons, snaps, a zipper, being sewn shut, or any other suitable mechanism for retaining the third portion 202. In other embodiments, a pocket (not shown) may be formed with the material of the back surface 115 such that the third portion 202 may be tucked into and retained by the pocket.

FIG. 3 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a firearm support 310 according to another embodiment of the invention. FIG. 3 illustrates a firearm support 310 having a body 312 defining a cavity 320. The body 312 has a first portion 314 and a second portion 316 suitable for supporting a firearm (not shown). In the firearm support 310 illustrated in FIG. 3, the body 312 includes an inlet 322 for introducing a combination of a gas and particulate matter 362, and an outlet 324 for allowing the gas to escape from the cavity as indicated by arrows 326 while retaining particulate matter in the cavity 320. The firearm support 310 illustrates that the inlet 322 and the outlet 324 may be positioned in separate surfaces of the body. For example, the inlet 322 may be positioned in a bottom surface 315 and the outlet may be positioned in a side surface 317 of the body. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the inlet and outlet 322 and 324 may accordingly be positioned at different locations in the body. Moreover, the inlet and outlet 322 and 324 may also include other embodiments described above, including but not limited to portions that extend away from the body 312 and that may be closed and retained proximate to the body following the gas-assisted filling process.

FIG. 4 is a schematic isometric view of a firearm support 410 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The firearm support 410 is generally similar to the firearm supports described above. For example, the firearm support 410 includes a body 412 defining a cavity, and a first portion 414 and a second portion 416. In several embodiments, the first portion 414 may be composed of a first material 420 having a first porosity and a second material 422 having a second porosity different from the first porosity. For example, the second material 422 may comprise a relatively small portion of the first portion 414 in relation to the first material 420. Accordingly, the second material may comprise a gas exit region (not shown). The second portion 416 may be composed of a third material 418 having a third porosity different from the first and second porosities. The third material 418 may be suitable for contacting a firearm, such as leather or other non-marring materials. Similar to the firearm supports described above, the firearm support 410 may include an inlet (not shown) for receiving a combination of a gas and particulate matter, and an outlet for allowing the gas to escape from the cavity while retaining the particulate matter. In several embodiments, the combination of the first, second and third porosities is configured to allow the gas to flow through the first portion and exit the cavity during a gas-assisted filling process while retaining the filler material in the enclosure. For example, the third porosity may be configured to generally not be permeable to the gas. In addition, the second porosity may be configured such that the majority of the gas will exit the cavity through the second material 402.

C. EMBODIMENTS OF METHODS OF FILLING AND CONSTRUCTING FIREARM SUPPORTS CONFIGURED FOR GAS-ASSISTED FILLING

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating a process 500 that can be used to fill the firearm support 110 described above. The process 500 can include flowing a gas toward a firearm support at a block 510. At a block 520, particulate matter is also directed toward the firearm support. The gas and the particulate matter can be combined at a block 530. In some embodiments, a particulate matter source may be positioned downstream from a gas source. Accordingly, particulate matter may be combined with the gas downstream from the gas source. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the gas and particulate matter can be combined using other methods. At a block 540, the combination of the gas and particulate matter is introduced in the firearm support and into a cavity defined by a body of the firearm support. In some embodiments the combination of gas and particulate matter may be introduced into an opening in the firearm support configured to receive the combination of gas and particulate matter. While the combination of gas and particulate matter is being introduced into the firearm support, at a block 550 the gas may be evacuated from the firearm support while retaining the particulate matter in the cavity. In some embodiments, evacuating the gas may comprise allowing the gas to flow through an outlet of the cavity during the filling process. The outlet may be configured to allow the gas to flow out of the cavity while retaining the particulate matter. For example, the outlet may comprise a valve or a screen or mesh material. Moreover, in some embodiments the gas may also be removed from the cavity. For example, a pump may be operatively coupled to the outlet of the cavity. The pump may create a suction to remove the gas while retaining the particulate matter.

The process 500 accordingly provides for an efficient method of filling firearm supports with particulate matter. Evacuating the gas from the firearm support while the combination of gas and particulate matter is introduced into the firearm support provides for efficient and adequate packing of the particulate matter. The process 500 enables a bag to be completely filled without using other devices or means to tamp or evenly distribute the particulate matter throughout the cavity to sufficiently fill the cavity and form a stable firearm support.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating a process 600 that can be used to construct the firearm support 110 described above. The process 600 can include constructing a body having a generally flexible enclosure at a block 610. The body may be composed of one or more portions attached together according to the embodiments of the firearm supports described above. The body also defines a cavity that may be filled with filler material, such as particulate matter. At a block 620 an inlet in the cavity is formed. The inlet is configured to receive a gas and particulate matter into the cavity to fill the cavity. At a block 630 an outlet in the cavity is formed. The outlet is configured to allow the gas to escape from the cavity while retaining the particulate matter in the cavity. The outlet may consist a material having a porosity that is permeable to the gas but not to the particulate matter. The process 600 accordingly provides a method of constructing a firearm support that is configured to be efficiently and adequately filled with particulate matter requiring little human interface.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the invention. Furthermore, aspects of the invention described in the context of particular embodiments may be combined or eliminated in other embodiments. Further, while advantages associated with certain embodiments of the invention have been described in the context of those embodiments, other embodiments may also exhibit such advantages, and not all embodiments need necessarily exhibit such advantages to fall within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited, except as by the appended claims.