With the holiday season upon us, there is nothing like a homemade gift to show how you really care—or a fun craft to keep the kids occupied. If you love the shooting sports and aren’t afraid to show it, then you owe it to yourself to jazz up your home, office, man cave, she shed or deer camp with the shooting-sports stuff that others discard. With the use of some basic tools and commonly found hardware, you can keep the spirit of the range in your home with these three fun do-it-yourself projects. The best part about these arts & crafts ideas is that not a single one costs more than $5 to make.
1. Holiday Lights
Discarded fired shotgun hulls will make perfect tinted globes and turn an ordinary string of lights into a great conversational piece. All you need is a string of lights and a basic shotgun reloading press. Set up your press to slightly over-crimp your hulls so that the crimping area is slightly pressed down into the hulls. Once you have that ready, go ahead and run them all through. You can skip the sizing/decapping step as it’s not required. However, you might want to do so if these are going to be used outdoors--by removing the spent primer, you make a drain hole for any precipitation that they might collect. Once your hulls are prepped, just slip them over each bulb and they will stay put all by themselves, no glue or tape needed. I use the term "Holiday" not to be politically correct, but to accurately describe the versatility of this design. Using red shells from Winchester and green ones from Remington you can alternate and make something that you’d be proud to string along your Christmas tree. Are you of the Jewish faith? Blue Rios and White Fiocchis got you covered for Chanukah! If you celebrate Kwanzaa, Browning makes black shotgun shells that you can use alongside red and green ones to display your African pride.
This decoration doesn’t have to be limited to December. We have been known to string pink shells from Federal for Valentine’s Day and green ones for St. Patrick's Day. Add some yellow 20 gauge shells and you might attract an Easter bunny. As things warm up you can easily show your patriotism with a string of red, white and blue hulls and leave them up all summer. When October hits at our house I like to string up green, white and red to commemorate my Paisan, Columbus. With all the options out there fuhgeddaboudit! (Long Island-to-English Translation: Forget about it.—ed.)
2. Brass Wind Chime
Now I can’t take credit for this one as it was a gift from some very close friends, but yes those fired cases sound pretty good in the wind! Simply collect your favorite cartridge cases and either shine them up by hand with some Brasso metal polish or tumble them overnight if you’re a reloader. (Here would be a great spot to provoke an argument between the dry cleaning and wet cleaning crowds, but I’ll restrain myself.) Once restored to a factory luster, simply drill out the flash hole and run a piece of thin twine through. Tie a knot on the other side to keep it from slipping back out, and you have the beginning of your wind chime. Next, create a decorative plaque with your favorite saying and line the bottom of it with your fired cases by either drilling and tying, or simply stapling them to the back. If you aren’t artistic, cheap blackboards can be found in nearly any dollar store. This mod allows you to change it up at will as well. The last step is to just add a piece of rope across the top to hang it and you are ready to harness the wind and be in your country glory! We found that the larger the case the louder the sound, but there’s no right or wrong, just do you!
3. En Bloc Desk Bell
While not exactly music to the ears of a World War II GI, that distinctive ping of an en bloc clip getting ejected from an M1 Garand puts a smile on the face of most shooters today. This simple-to-build bell allows you to enjoy it anytime you wish. Start with disassembling a standard desk bell by unscrewing the plunger that actuates the ringer. With that off, the bell housing will be free to be removed and discarded. Replace the bell housing with a simple piece of sheet metal. For simplicity’s sake, you can purchase strips with pre-drilled holes from a hardware store. With the strip attached, bend it into a “Z” and attach an en block clip to the other end with a nut and bolt. As long as you bent it correctly, the ringer should hit the side of the clip whenever you press down on the plunger. This makes for a perfect gift to a friend who owns a gun shop, army surplus store or just someone who loves having a little piece of history lying around...PING!