Staging the Long Gun

Republished Article

 By Cree Vicar Dave - SASS Life #49907

I asked an old friend the other day how he was doing.  He shot back that every day he can get out of bed and stand vertical is a very good day.  At our age standing vertical is indeed good even if it requires some effort.

But for long guns, staging vertical is not always a good idea.  You are probably aware of someone restaging a rifle or shotgun vertically only to have it slip or turn on its axis and end up on the ground making for a bad experience.  Match Directors are becoming more aware of this and are expressing a desire to have all long guns staged horizontally.

Rifles resign themselves well to the prone position.  Shotguns, though, are another matter.  Not all shotguns are created equal.  Winchester ‘97’s’ do well in a horizontal rack but double barrels have a tendency to close or roll over.  Staging a hinged shotgun parallel to the earth most always depends upon a flat surface such as a bale of straw, table, etc.

With these dilemmas in mind I set out to design a horizontal rack friendly to all long guns while fitting into the stage scheme.  I find that my thought process functions quite well with my body also in the horizontal mode, but there is a slight problem of my eyes slamming shut in this position.

 It says in Proverb 20:13 

   Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.

So I have to force myself to stand straight up from time to time to keep from becoming a Slacker.

After many sleepless hours and a couple of proto-types I’m pleased to reveal the Cree Vicar horse, mule, cow and dog take down props.  The large animals are designed so as to have two animals fit on one 3/4” x4’x8’ sheet of plywood.  I used seven ply, exterior glue, sanded both sides plywood.  It costs a little more but stands up better under the elements.

All the legs are a little over 18” wide by 36” high, while the bodies are around 19” deep by 48” long.  The legs fit intertwined on the plywood while the bodies are belly to belly.  The legs are slotted 3/4”wide by 9” down from the tops and the bodies have corresponding slots cut from the bottom so that when the legs are in place they are even with the top of the body.  The slots have to be wide enough to accommodate the plywood plus any paint applied plus a horse hair or two for clearance.  I found that some of the animals swelled a little from moisture and had to make the adjusted relief.

After a slight rounding of the edges they were sanded.  One coat of undercoat latex was used to protect the wood.  The animals were painted with acrylic paint and then a finish coat of clear acrylic spray was applied.  They look great and almost come alive on the stage.  The tops of the horse and mule legs have a groove in them on each side for staging long guns.  I applied deer skin, held in place by DAP acrylic silicone clear caulk to protect firearms.  The deer skin strips of around 1-1/4” wide by around 12” long will work into place and the excess caulk cleans up with a damp rag.

To accommodate a double barrel I designed a saddle that slides over the horse/mule back and supports the gun under the hinge.  This keeps it upright for staging and provides for viable restaging.  The saddle has a back and front made out of left over plywood.  A spacer glued and screwed between them is just thick enough to let the saddle slip in place over the animal’s back without a lot of slop.  Attached securely (screwed and glued) to the front vertical panel of the saddle is a horizontal arm made out of hardwood, 1-1/4” to 1-1/2” thick, with the grain running at right angle to the front panel.  The protruding edges of this arm were rounded with a 5/16” radius bit, then sanded and varnished.  Deer skin was applied to the top, held in place with DAP acrylic silicone clear caulk, to protect the shotgun hinge.  The saddle can be varnished or painted to match the animal’s color.  The saddle is easily removed to provide room for the ‘97’.  Some of the shotgun saddle, the cattle horns, and the dogs can be made from the extra pieces of plywood. 

These animals are quite easy to make for anyone with wood working skills.  They can be used for a varying amount of props.  Make sure to always follow all safety rules when working on projects or using them.  Actual size drawings may be obtained for a $35.00 donation to Sucker Creek Saddle and Gun Club, (Order form).  For more information contact Cree Vicar Dave.

Hope ta see ya on the trail. 

God bless,

Cree Vicar Dave