Big Game Hunting Gear photo

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Photo by Travis Rathbone

Think your old synthetic rifle or shotgun stock could use a modern facelift? Instructors at North Carolina’s Montgomery Community College Gunsmithing School dolled up the D.I.Y. camo-painted stocks shown here and gave us their step-by-step plan. To get started, remove barrels, actions, and sling swivels from the stocks. Lightly sand the stocks with 220-grit sandpaper and wipe them clean with denatured alcohol or acetone. Use masking tape and an X-Acto blade to mask off areas that shouldn’t be painted. Suspend the stocks from a clothes hanger and start spraying.

1. Stencil Stripes
Using an X-Acto knife, carefully cut spray-through stencils out of a manila envelope or folder. Cut a variety of stripe styles–big and small and with different wave patterns.

To make the tiger-stripe pattern shown above, paint the entire stock tan. Next, hold the stencil close to the stock and spray gray stripes from the butt to the fore-end tip, leaving a few inches in between each stripe. Follow with green stripes in between, and then another few smaller black stripes to add depth. Finish with a coat of clear flat acrylic sealant.

2. Local Look
First, collect three kinds of local vegetation to use as custom stencils: A few medium-size leaves, some pencil-thick vegetation, such as fern fronds, and finer material like thin reeds and pine needles. Especially with pine needles and grasses, make sure there’s plenty of open structure for the paint to get through. Since these aren’t cut-out stencils you’ll get a reverse image of the vegetation, but it will still look great.

Next, paint the entire stock black and let dry. Start with the medium-size leaves and a medium-dark paint such as brown or olive green. Hold the vegetation very still, against the surface of the stock, and spray with a light back-and-forth action with the can about 6 inches away. Turn the vegetation in all directions to prevent striping–everything in nature is random.

Use the fern fronds and thin grasses and pine needles with a light brown or khaki paint to add depth. Use just enough paint to get the desired effect. Thick paint globs will crack upon drying. Finish with sealant.