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VOLUME 20-----------FEBRUARY 2004

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

 I can't believe it's already time for the February newsletter.  I guess time flies when you're havin' fun!  That is if you call movin' snow out of the driveway, and movin' snow out of the driveway, and movin' snow out of the driveway, etc, etc, etc, fun!

Finally had to break out the big snow blower powered by the PTO on the tractor.  I was runnin' out of room to push it with the blade, so had to start blowin' it over the top of the piles, and out into the woods.  Shore is purty around here with two or three feet of snow on the ground though!

Needless to say, we haven't done any shooting for several weeks, but that don't mean we aint thinkin' about it!  I was doing some rearranging in the shop the other day, and had to move the shooting bench.  So, I decided to break out the camera, get some pictures, and make the bench one of the subjects of this month's newsletter.

The idea for this bench was born about 18 months ago, as I decided to quit fighting the drawbacks of the homemade table we had been using for a bench rest.  That table was about the size of a Black and Decker Workmate®, and was built to fill a similar need when we lived in Nebraska.  In fact, after the last coat of yellow paint had dried, I caught Ann neatly lettering the words "Buck and Dicker" with bright red paint, on the edge of the table top!

That table worked fine for its intended purpose, but as a shooting bench it was too little, too short, and too wobbly.  It has graduated to serving as a stand for the old TV I recently moved to the new shop building.  (We also now have a real, actual, genuine, Black and Decker Workmate®!)

You'll have to bear with me here, because I didn't, and don't, have any blueprints or plans drawn for this project.  I did find a limited amount of information and some plans on the internet, but most of those didn't look very solid to me.  I tend to get an idea in my mind of what I want, go get the stuff I think I'll need, and start buildin'.  Yes, this sometimes gets me in trouble, and I have to start over, but not as often as you might think!

My Home Depot list included:

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One - 4x8 sheet of 3/4 inch ACX plywood

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Three - 8 foot pressure treated 4x4's

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Three - 10 foot pressure treated 2x6's

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Two - 3/8 x 4 inch wood screw eye bolts

I keep a good inventory of screws and fasteners, along with miscellaneous supplies like glue, paint, and varnish here at the ranch, so those were already on hand.

The first step was building the top.  It consists of two layers of the 3/4 inch plywood, glued and screwed together with inch and a quarter drywall screws, countersunk and filled.  This picture will give you an idea of the shape.  (All the pictures are thumbnails.  Click on them for full size views.)

The Bench top.

The top measures 4 feet wide at the left end, and 2 feet wide at the right.  The overall length is 5 feet.  The side cutouts are 1 foot deep, by 2 feet on the short side and 3 feet on the long.  The initial cut on the plywood makes a 4x5 foot piece.  You then make the side cutouts and use those pieces along with the leftover 3x4 foot piece, so the top has the double layer throughout.

Front view.

As you can see from this view, I chose a three legged design for the tripod effect of insuring no wobble when placed on uneven ground.  The 4x4 legs are 4 feet tall.  There's no magic to this height, it just turned out to be right for using some old bar stools I had around here for shooting seats.

Likewise, there is no magic to the configuration of the framework.  I just cut the angles and put on the 2x6's in a way I thought would be stout enough for the purpose.  There are no nails in this construction.  (About the only time I use nails anymore is to hang a picture.)  Except for the drywall screws holding the layers together for the top, I used deck screws, ranging from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches in length.

As an aside, do you ever get frustrated by slipping or stripping out the heads of Phillips Head deck screws?  Me too!  I solved that problem by only buying the screws with Torx heads.  The ones I used for this project required a #25 Torx bit.  You can drive these with a power screwdriver or electric drill, and do it quickly and easily, without a slip or a strip!

Storage Shelf.

The storage shelf was kind of an afterthought, and was made from scrap lumber I had laying around the shop.  The shelf and railings make additional bracing for the structure, as well as providing handy storage for rests, rugs, sandbags, tripods, spotting scope, etc.  The electrical cords are for my chronograph and printer.  I picked up a couple of transformers of the proper voltage from Radio Shack, and use household current instead of batteries.  Most of our shooting is done within reach of one of the outlets in the shop.

Final touches included a couple of coats of redwood stain over everything, and about 4 coats of satin finish exterior urethane on the top.

Oh, by the way.  Did you notice the eyebolts sticking out of the bench top in one of the earlier pictures?  Well, that's my portability feature.  Here's how it's done:

The Bench and its portability feature.

Depending upon the kind of firearm we are using, and the distance we want to shoot, we can move this thing wherever we need it with this arrangement!

I've never weighed the finished product, but it takes a couple of purty stout dudes to lift it by hand.  I do know it's heavy enough and tight enough to provide a very solid foundation for bench rest shooting.  I now have to admit to "operator error" whenever those stray shots jump far outside the group!

Here's a typical setup on a warmer day with no snow.

Rick shooting his Marlin .41 Magnum.

So there you have the bench rest story.  If you want to embark on a similar project, and would like further (and perhaps clearer) information, just click on the link on the home page and send me an e mail.  Always glad to help out if I can.

I'm gonna close with a few words about a good friend and neighbor who recently retired.  Harry Cupp worked for over 45 years as a heavy equipment operator for a locally headquartered mining and construction company.  Not only did Harry retire from N. A. Degerstrom Inc., but his late father, Charles ("Swede") did the same in 1982.  Harry's son, Bret, is almost 10 years into his career as a third generation equipment operator for Degerstrom's.  One could get the idea that's a pretty good place to work!

It seems we've evolved into a era where corporate culture often tends to look at employees as just another piece of machinery.  If any recognition is given for umpteen years of loyal service, it's often in the form of a cheap watch or plaque.  The spoken (and unspoken) lines go something like this:  "Here's your watch, goodbye, don't let the door hit you in the butt, I think the next guy will work cheaper than you did anyway!"

Well, the Degerstrom people have more class than that.  Harry is well known as an avid shooter and hunter, so his retirement gift turned out to be a Winchester Model 70 Classic, "Super Grade" in .300 Winchester Magnum!  What a beautiful firearm!  Here are some pictures:

Harry Cupp with Winchester Model 70 "Super Grade."

Engraved floorplate, initials on the trigger guard.

Harry, now that you're a "man of leisure," maybe I can get you to teach me how to shoot them little, tiny groups! (After the snow melts, of course!)

This month's Hillbilly Wisdom comes from hearing my Mother and Grandmother say:

"If you pee in the road, you'll get a sty in yer eye!"

or, if you already had a sty, it was:

"Well, you been peein' in the road again!"

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

THE OL' HILLBILLY
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