Wednesday, December 19, 2007

DYI - Shooting Sticks

For all the shooters out there I am posting a DYI build on some shooting sticks. The original design I got from Varmint Al's website and made a few modifications to the design to suit me.

Bill of materials: (Cost Estimate $14, 2 - 30 min work sessions)
2 - 3/4" square hardwood sticks 36" long (length might need to be adjusted for your height)
1 - 1/4"x2" Machine Screw or Bolt
2 - 1/4" Brass wood inserts
2 - 1/4" ID Nylon bearing/bushings
1 - 1/4" Nylon washer
2 - 1/4"x 2" - 3" Threaded rod
2 - 1/4" Nuts (standard)
1 - 1/4" Nylon Lock Nut
2 - 1/2" Diameter magnets

Misc Materials:
Leather, cork or foam rubber for rifle rest
Gorilla Glue
Spray paint (gray, green, brown, black, white)
Drill and bits

Here is what Varmint Al has to say about stick length and height.
Shooter's Over All Stick
Height Length (in)
4'-9" 30.75
5'-0" 32.00
5'-3" 33.25
5'-6" 34.75
5'-9" 36.00
6'-0" 37.25
6'-3" 38.75
6'-6" 40.00

Start off by figuring out how the wood pieces fit together the best. It was impossible for me to find two sticks of trim at home depot that were straight and true. If you have a table saw, you can make your own wood sticks, thus eliminating this problem. Since I have a very limited wood shop, I choose to just use what I could purchase at Home Depot (length, size and straightness). Once you have the lumber lined up we need to drill the hole for the pivot joint. The location of this hole will depend on the width of the stock forearm of your firearm, but a general location would be 3"-5" down from the end. For the neewbies out there, make sure to drill a small hole first and work up to the final hole size.

Now we will bolt the two pieces together so that they will pivot. The nylon bushings allow the bolt to clamp the wood together but keeps the hole from being oblonged by the rubbing of the wood against the bolt. The image below shows how the Nylon bushings and washer would look on the bolt, minus the wood sticks. Since we used a nylon lock nut(instead of lok-tite) the compression on the sticks can be adjusted so that there is some pivotal resistance.

Now comes the fun part. In order to keep the sticks together when walking we will install two magnets in the legs to form a magnetic latch. Starting about 12" from the base of the sticks we will drill a small hole through both legs. I choose to drill this small hole so that the magnets will be lined up perfectly. On the mating side of the legs this blind hole will be increased in size so that the magnets fit into the hole and are slightly recessed. Now that we are satisfied with our blind hole and magnet placement we will glue the magnets into the wood, this is where the Gorilla glue comes in. Gorilla glue works wonderful but a few words of caution: For best results the parts need to be slightly damp, gorilla glue foams when it cures so make sure any excess glue gets wiped off and be aware of drips, and lastly a little Gorilla goes a ways. Use a damp rag or q-tip to wipe out the blind hole and the backside of the magnet. I found it was easiest to put the magnet on the end of a bolt when applying a thin layer of glue onto the magnet and than placing that into the hole. Once the magnet is placed into the hole, the magnet needs to be clamped into place so that the foaming action of the glue doesn't push it out of the hole. Presto, now onto the other magnet. Remember the physics of magnets, opposite poles attract so be careful when placing the second magnet so that they will be attracted to each other and thus securing the legs. It takes about 30 mins for the glue to set, but one should be able to continue to the next step while the glue is curing.

Now we have the pivot mechanism installed and the magnetic leg securing assembly, now we move to the spikes. On the bottom of the legs we will install the brass wood inserts so we can screw in a 1/4" threaded rod. Using the threaded inserts allows the spikes on the bottom of the legs to be removed or even different styles to be used. We start out by finding and marking the center of each leg so that we can drill a small pilot hole perfectly centered into the bottom of the leg. Now we will enlarge the hole to about 11/16" to a depth of 1/2-3/4", for the threaded insert. Since we are screwing this insert into the end of the grain the hole is slightly larger than one would use if the insert was used cross grain(5/8"), and will require the insert to be glued into place. Yeap you guessed it, more Gorilla glue. Next, we will drill the hole to a depth of 2.5-3.5" with a 1/4" drill so the spikes can be installed backwards for storage. Installing the brass insert is best done by first screwing the insert onto the end of a bolt so that the bolt can be used to align the insert into the hole. Once you have screwed the glue smeared insert into the hole, make sure to remove the bolt used to screw in the insert, other wise you might end up securing that bolt with the glue. If the glue happens to expand into the insert , the glue can be cut with a sharp knife and the threads of the insert cleaned with a thread tap.

Now we will set the sticks aside and make our spikes. The lengths of the spikes will depend on soil condition and personal preference, but should be about 3"-4" long for a good starting length. First thing we will do is lok-tite a nut onto the threaded rod, I used blue lok-tite since I had it on hand, but white (non-removable) might be a better choice. The placement of the nut is about 3/4" from one end. Now we can set those aside for the lok-tite to cure. Once the lok-tite has cured, we will need to shape one end of the spikes to form a point. You can decide how sharp of a point you would like, I prefer something that is not going to cause severe injury if one would happen to accidentally meet the business end of the stick, but still enough of a point to get a firm bite into frozen ground. Plus, the spikes make a nice defensive weapon in case a dog decides it would like to chew on your leg.

Now that everything has cured we can put the finishing touches on the sticks. First we will have to clean up any excess clue that might have squeezed out. A razor blade or sanding block should do the trick. Install the spikes into the legs and lets get to painting the sticks. I choose to camouflage my shooting sticks, but either way always use flat paint so the sticks are not all shiny. I always start with the darkest color and paint over that with the lighter colors to form that camouflage pattern. Once the dark base colors are down, set twigs, leaves or grass on the sticks and spray with your lighter color, this will mask the light color and leave dark patches and shadows that resemble natural foliage. Don't forget to paint the spikes, don't want that shiny threaded rod to give away your position when going after those pesky critters.
Now that we have the sticks painted, lets pad the rifle rest area of the sticks. The main purpose of this padding is to protect the finish of the rifle stock and to provide the right amount of friction to hold the forearm of the stock. I have tried various different materials and found just about anything will work and it depends on the stock. Rubber gasket material which can be found at most plumbing stores works well for wood stocks but tends to have a little to much grip against synthetic stocks for my liking. I have found a rubber/foam rubber that is typically used on the base of lamps works well for most stock materials. Leather is another good option. Once you have determined what material you would like to try, glue it to the area of the sticks that the rifle will rest against. Since the sticks are not directional one could use a different material on the other side so there is a choice of rest material when using the sticks in the field. And now you are ready to head out to the field and put the sticks to work. One might also consider adding a carry strap or clip to the sticks so they can be attached to a backpack or belt for ease of carry. Enjoy and don't forget to come back and report how they worked for you...


Jeremy said...

This is the best howto I've seen for shootin sticks. Nice, thanks.

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