Excerpt from the article "NO Wiggles" A shooting bench mustn’t move. Most portables do. These don’t. You’ll shoot better. - Five minutes from my house there’s a bench.
I helped design it, but more talented people than me built it. The top is a trough of heavy iron, broad as a pool table. It holds 4 inches of concrete and rests on legs of well casings thick as cannon barrels, also filled with concrete. They’re sunk so deep, heat from the earth’s core cured the footings.
This bench doesn’t creak when you lay a heavy rifle across sandbags. It doesn’t quiver when you squirm to re-position a rest. You could hog-tie a steer on this bench; it wouldn’t budge.
The only thing I don’t like about this bench is that it’s about as portable as the Pentagon.
Royal Stukey knows about steers. He cowboyed in another life, and “was happiest in the hills, on horseback.” There, and as a hunting guide, he indulged his long affinity for rifles and shooting. Now 50, Royal is a decade into an enterprise that “began with a blank check.” A client wanted “a portable shooting bench that was really steady. I couldn’t find one. So he told me to build one.”
Mechanically inclined, Stukey complied. His first benches had flaws, but because cost wasn’t an over-riding concern, those benches quickly got better. “Our real break-through was the floating nut plate,” says the entrepreneur. “Most of the wobble in portables come from the junction of legs and top. One day I got the idea of a self-centering plate.” It’s a clever arrangement. The legs grip the top with 5/8 bolts at the welded ends of 1 ½-inch Schedule 40 pipe. “The nut plates eliminate the wiggle. It just goes away. Not a shudder under big rifles, not a shiver in Wyoming wind.” You won’t find a weak component in Stukey’s bench. The frame is of 1 ½ x 2-inch heavy angle iron. Fourteen screws secure the 32x40-inch top, of ¾-inch birch plywood. It’s triple-coated with marine varnish both sides – six coats on edges. All metal is powder-coated. Royal Stukey’s bench can be quickly assembled and taken apart without tools. The 30-pound top and 35-pound leg package are designed for easy carry, one in each hand. Set up, the bench itself has a 36x44-inch footprint, and works well on uneven ground. “We contract out the powder coating, and I’ve engaged another fellow to build tops to our specs,” says Royal. “I do the welding and other metalwork here in our shop. Assembly too.” The shop, in Powell, Wyoming has grown since Brownells and Sinclair International have put Stukey’s bench in their catalogs. “That’s been a real blessing for Jeanie and I.” Jeanie is Royal’s wife, an active partner in the business. “She handles orders, records and anything having to do with computers. Thanks to her and my customers, we’ve put solid portable shooting benches all over the country. And in countries I’ve not yet visited!” Stukey won’t likely go on tour soon. Bench orders are keeping him busy. “We get most from real riflemen – shooters who’ve tried other portable benches. They own custom and semi-custom rifles. They handload. They expect tight groups. They know if you can’t be still, the most expensive rifle and scope is just a pile of wasted money. I can’t afford to ship a bench that wiggles.”
GunHunter Magazine: 2012 by Wayne Van Zwoll