The Shooting Cart

by Studentofthegun

It turns out that I am hooked on 2 Gun Rimfire matches, and will therefore be shooting those as much as my time allows.  Which is to say once a month, unless I can somehow manage otherwise.

The atmosphere is more like a church picnic than a shooting competition.  People seem to be very kind and willing to give friendly advice and information.  They are also very welcoming to newcomers.

Since I have decided this is something I want to do often, there is one logistical fly in the ointment.  There are several stages that one must shoot at.  Our rimfire matches have a total of six stages.  Some of the 3 Gun matches might have as many as eight stages.  Perhaps more.  This presents an issue.  A rifle, pistol, magazines, cases for said rifle and pistol, ammo, eyes, ears, cleaning supplies, mag loaders, chamber flags, ad infinitum…is a lot of stuff to lug around for several hours.  To that end, many people have acquired some kind of rolling cart or buggy for the purpose of hauling their equipment around from stage to stage.  A lot of people build their own, and I saw several such homemade examples at the last two matches.

Others pony up the cash for professional production.  The Rugged Gear series of shooting carts are truly wonderful:

Rugged Cart copy

Photo Source: http://www.ruggedgear.com/index.cfm/page/ptype=product/product_id=153/category_id=178/mode=prod/prd153.htm

The Rugged Gear carts are probably worth every penny and have features (and dare I say overall build quality) that many of the homemade carts don’t.  You get what you pay for.  That said, the least expensive cart is $230 and there’s $40 for shipping.  That’s a grand total of $270.

The 2-Gun cart design is essentially what I needed, but I wanted to also make sure that I had plenty of space on the cart.  I decided that the best thing to do for my budget was to build my own cart.

Most people use baby joggers and convert them.  Some of the research I did suggested that it would be best if I could find one that held two children, as that would give me extra width.  So I started surfing Craigslist and lo and behold…a twin version was available.  I even checked the manufacturer reviews and it was one of the better models.  The price was also reasonable.

I got the thing home and it looked something very much like this, only in a different color of blue:

InstepBlue copy

The first order of business was to saw off the sunshade.  I tried everything I could to get it loose and I swear it was as if someone epoxied the thing together.  Though I loaned my reciprocating saw to my father, I managed to dig up a saw that worked well for cutting metal.  After I lopped off the sunshade I then took all the other baby related items off until I had only the bottom compartment and the bare frame left.  I then pressure washed the whole thing, as it had been sitting inside a garage for years and was covered in leaves and spider webs.

Now, let me just stop here and say that a lot of people don’t take the baby seats out.  I could have saved myself some sweat and effort if I’d just left them in.  But I wasn’t sure that my largest range bag would fit.  I wanted a cart that would accommodate the big bag, as that’s what I usually take with me.  Ideally, I just wanted to be able to pack my bag like usual, with all the stuff I like to take with me.  That way all I’d have to do is unload the cart from the back of my truck, set the range bag on the shelf, and put the rifle on the mount.  Then I’d be ready to roll.  So I made the additional effort to taking it down to the frame so I could make my own shelf that was the size I wanted it to be.  The end result convinced me that I made the right choice.

Now that I had all the baby accoutrements off the frame, the next step was to begin my modifications.  I just wanted to keep it simple, so my plan was to reuse the bottom compartment, make a shelf for my range bag, and add two sets of rifle holders.  I decided to go with the Kolpin offset gun mounts that are commonly used on ATVs.  Got mine from Amazon.  About $20 per pack of two.  At this point my total investment in this project is $120.

I then turned my attention to making the shelf.  Using screws, plywood, and other scrap I had laying around, I put the main part of the shelf together.  It so happened that I had some black spray paint, so I took a little extra time to paint the shelf before I put everything together.  Due to the shape of the frame, I had to made a cross bar on the back of the cart to hold up the back side of the shelf.

A trip to Lowe’s Home improvement got me the wooden angle pieces I needed for the front and back of the shelf.  An 8′ piece was more than enough and only cost about $8.  These angled pieces of trim were screwed to the shelf so that the bag couldn’t slide off easily.

Here is the finished result for a total investment of just less than half what the least expensive Rugged Gear cart would have cost me:

Finished Cart 5

Finished Cart 3

Finished Cart 4

Finished Cart 6

Finished Cart 2

Finished Cart 1

My large Midway range bag will easily fit on the shelf sideways with a little room to spare.  The bottom compartment has plenty of room for a small cooler for drinks and snacks.  Though I will only be using one rifle mount, I installed two.  That way, if someone wants to go to a match with me, there is a one for them to use.  There should also be plenty of room for my guest to put their other equipment on my cart.

The black pouch on the handlebars has two big compartments that should be able to hold two drinks.  There are also some zippered compartments that will hold keys and other small items.

There are some other things I might eventually add to the cart.  One of the things I’m thinking of is an umbrella mount.  They don’t cost very much and I have a golf umbrella.  It might be nice to make my own shade, especially in the summertime.

I might add another shelf a bit higher up.  I have seen a few examples of  folding shelves on the Brian Enos forum.  These extra items can always be added down the road.  There are a few minor things that my cart doesn’t have that the Rugged Gear carts do have.  One is the lack of solid tires.  The other is a front wheel that swivels.  Some of the baby joggers have the front wheel that swivels, but they were also more expensive or weren’t the double width cart I was looking for.

Incidentally, if you are looking for inspiration when making a shooting cart, this thread over on the Brian Enos forums helped me quite a bit: http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=116302&page=1

For now I think the homemade cart will fit my needs.  Maybe someday I will spring for the nicer cart.  But for now this works well enough and the cost wasn’t too bad.  A day and a half was all it took from having no cart at all to having one that was ready for a match.

Happy and Safe Shooting to you and yours,

Studentofthegun

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