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Making Custom Shooting Sticks
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

All shooters know that the steadier you can hold a gun the more accurate the shot will be.  One method of providing a steady rest for a gun is to use shooting sticks.  Shooting sticks have been around as long as firearms themselves.  Some of the very early European smoothbore long guns were so heavy they were issued with a shooting stick.  The American plains buffalo hunters of the 1800’s often used crossed sticks to steady their buffalo rifles.  As I prepared my kit for hog hunting I decided I needed a set of shooting sticks.

There is a dizzying array of shooting sticks available to the shooting sportsman; monopod, bipod, tripod, folding, collapsing - so many that it becomes confusing to decide what’s best.  And the prices go from about $20.00 up to $100.00!  In their simplest form shooting sticks are two crossed sticks.  I could have gone to the hardware store and purchased some wooden dowel for that, but after much research and trial and error I decided I needed shooting sticks that met the following criteria:

  • Light weight but sturdy – this could be wood, fiberglass, or aluminum

  • Must fold up for carry – collapsible would also work  This pretty much eliminated wood.

  • Must be height adjustable – collapsible would definitely work

  • Must allow the bore of the gun to sit above a 42-inch high portable blind.

  • Must be inexpensive

Fixed length folding shooting sticks I found were either too short or too tall.  Collapsible aluminum shooting sticks cost $60 or more.  I thought I could probably beat that price by making my own.  I decided to make a hybrid crossed bipod with each leg made of three folding sections of aluminum tubing.  The first two sections would have a bungee chord running through them attached to the third section.  These could easily be pulled apart and folded for storage and carry.  The bungee chord would keep all the pieces together, and help it to practically assemble itself.  The third section would have an insert which could be extended and locked in place at various points thereby adjusting the height.

I purchased 6061-T6 aluminum tubing from Online Metals in the following sizes, total price was $45.00 with shipping:

  • Three 36-inch pieces of 0.5" OD x 0.058" wall x 0.384" ID 6061 T6 tube.  These will be the leg sections.

  • One 36-inch piece of 0.375" OD x 0.035" wall x 0.305" ID 6061 T6 tube.  This will be the extendable inserts.

  • One 24-inch piece of 0.375" OD x 0.035" wall x 0.305" ID 6061 T6 tube.  This will be the inserts that join the leg sections together.

  • One 12-inch piece of 0.25" OD x 0.058" wall x 0.134" ID 6061 T6 tube.  This will be the bottom of the extendable leg that sits in the ground, and the bungee chord ferrules.

I also purchased 10 feet of 1/8 bungee cord material from A1 Foam and Fabrics  for $12.00 including shipping.  This will be used to hold the sections together.

Other materials I used that I already had on hand:

Two 4-inch pieces of black heat-shrink tubing that will fit over 1/2-inch tubing.  This is available from Radio Shack.

Two hairpin cotters for locking the extendable legs in place – purchased for $.98 from the hardware store

  • One 10-24 x 2 inch screw

  • One 10-24 nut

  • One 3/8-inch nylon spacer

  • Two #10 10-12 ga. ring terminals

  • Black RTV

  • 3/8” plastic end cap purchased for $1.04 from the hardware store

First I cut all three of the 1/2” x 36” tubing in half making six 18-inch pieces.  I used the metal cutting blade in my miter saw to make straight cuts.  I then used a file to bevel the sharp outside edges, and a cone-shaped stone to bevel the inside edges on each end.

I then cut a piece of 3/8-inch tubing in half making two 18-inch pieces.  These pieces will become the extendable legs.  Using a #29 drill I drilled a hole 2” down from the top of each of the 18” extendable leg pieces, then beveled the inside and outside edges as before. 

I cut the 1/4” x 12” into two 3” sections.  These are the bottoms of the extendable legs.  I beveled the end so that it created a taper, then filled the end with black RTV.  While the RTV was setting up I bead blasted the two extendable legs and painted them with a gray primer.  After the primer dried I then painted them with a flat black.  After the paint dried I epoxied the 1/4“ x 3” ends into the bottom of the extendable legs with the tapered ends out as shown in the photo.

I took the other piece of 3/8-inch tubing and cut four 4-inch pieces to make the joining inserts.  I beveled the inside and outside edges as before.  Using a 3/32” drill I drilled a hole in two of the 4” joining pieces 1” down from the top.  Then I cut 4 pieces of 1/4“ tubing 1/2“ long to act as ferrules to hold the bungee chord in place.  I cut two 30” pieces of 1/8” bungee chord and threaded one end of each piece into a ferrule and squeezed it in my vice.  The photo shows the ferrules before and after. 

I had to trim the edges of the ferrules using my Dremel tool and a grinding bit to get them to fit into the 3/8” tubing.  I inserted the free end of the bungee through one of the joining pieces that had the roll pin hole.  I inserted from the hole end so the ferrule would enter the tube last.  When the ferrule got close to the opening I installed a 3/32” roll pin, then pulled the bungee chord tight.  The photo shows the bungee, ferrule, and roll pin in place.  After I tapped the roll pin through the tube I ground off the end of the roll pin flush with the sides of the tube.  I put a glop of epoxy on each side of the ferrule then pulled it into the tube.  With the roll pin and epoxy the bungee chord should never come out.

I finished drilling all the rest of the holes.  In the bottom leg sections I drilled the adjustment holes using a #29 drill bit.  I also drilled the roll-pin hole using a 3/32” drill bit.  In the top sections I drilled the assembly holes with a #9 drill bit.  After drilling all holes I polished the tubes with 320-grit sandpaper to remove any burrs and prepare for painting.


I spray painted the rods with Brownells Aluma-Hyde II parkerizing gray.  I used two coats to make sure I got good coverage.  After the paint dried I took a small sea sponge and dipped it into Aluma-Hyde II flat black sprayed against the back of my spray booth and made a camouflage patters on the rods.  I wanted them to look like sticks.

Now for the assembly.  I took the 3/8” tubes that had the bungee chord attached, spread some epoxy around the top 2 inches, then inserted them into the bottom of the top two sections so that 2 inches of the tube was exposed with the bungee hanging out of it.  I then took the 3/8” tubes with no bungee chord and glued them to the middle sections, leaving 2 inches exposed.

After the epoxy dried I threaded the bungee from the bottom of the top section through the middle section.  I assembled the top and middle sections, then pulled out 5 inches of bungee and clamped it with a pair of vice grips.  I then attached a ferrule close to the vice grips and crimped it in place with my vice, then cut off the excess bungee.  I didn’t remove the vice grips yet because I didn’t want to have to go fishing for that ferrule if it snapped back inside the middle section.

I took the bottom leg and started a 3/32” roll-pin in the roll-pin hole.  Then I cut about 50” of string, doubled it, then fed the loose ends through the top of the tube until they protruded through the bottom.  The loop of string left at the top of the third section I wrapped one time around the bungee above the ferrule.  This helped me to feed the ferrule into the third section.


Holding the string taught I pulled the ferrule through the third section until it was below the roll-pin hole.  I wrapped the string around the roll pin so I could reposition the assembly in my vice.  With the bottom section in the vice I seated the roll-pin.  When I released one side of the string it came unwrapped from the bungee and the ferrule sat against the roll pin.

I inserted the adjustable leg into the third section, aligned the holes and inserted the hairpin cotter to hold it in place.  I also inserted a plastic cap plug into the top section, but I could have just filled it with black RTV.

To keep the sticks in place while folded for carry I built a bungee keeper using a 6-inch scrap piece of bungee chord and two ring terminals.  I crimped the ring terminals onto either end of the bungee.

I assembled the two sides by inserting a 10-24 x 2” metal screw through one side, through the nylon washer, and through the other side.  I installed one of the ring terminals onto the screw then attached the 10-24 nut.  I put some Loctite red on the threads then tightened the nut just tight enough so I could rotate the sticks freely.

Finally I cut two 4-inch lengths of black heat-shrink tubing and using my wife’s hair dryer attached them to the tops.  This will protect the finish on the guns.

I am very pleased with the result.  These sticks are light, easy to fold up and carry, but when I release the keeper strap, the sticks almost assemble themselves.  And, because they are adjustable, I can use them in many different shooting situations.


   © Copyright 2008 Roy Seifert.