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Canvas fabric on the inside of a canoe.
Under that piece of waterproof fabric is a shotgun. Here’s how you can build a gun rack for your canoe and make a waterproof cover for it, too. Ryan Chelius

Any waterfowl hunter who uses a canoe knows the toll these boats can take on a shotgun. Whether it be from dripping paddles or from getting in and out of the boat to cross beaver dams, the deck becomes soaked and so does your shotgun. And if you keep your shotgun in a case, it still doesn’t matter. Even some of the best cases can wet through after several hours in a wet canoe.

The only way to really keep a shotgun dry in a canoe is to elevate it off of the deck. And the following gun rack design does just that.


Canoe shapes and materials vary by brand, and you will likely have to modify these plans to work for your boat. That said, most canoes share the same basic construction. In the example below, we used an Old Town canoe made of polyethylene (plastic), which was fairly easy to work with.

How to Make a Gun Rack For a Canoe

1. Cut Vinyl and Make a Loop to Hold the Shotgun Stock

loop of vinyl screwed to a canoe.
Create a large loop from the vinyl and screw it to the underside of the gunwale. Ryan Chelius

Cut two pieces of the vinyl wall-base material—one at 18 inches and the other at 10 inches. Then fold the larger of the two in half to create a loop. Use two sheet-metal screws (or pop rivets) to secure it to the underside of the gunwale (top rail) next to the canoe seat. This will hold the buttstock of your shotgun.

2. Measure Your Gun and Fasten the Second Loop for the Barrel

Two loops of vinyl attached to the inside of a canoe.
Fasten the second, smaller loop to the underside of the gunwale. Ryan Chelius

You’re going to need to space the second, smaller loop apart from the larger one so that they are several inches shorter than the gun’s overall length. Find this dimension by measuring your shotgun and subtract a few inches. Then take that length and measure from the attached large loop to find the right place for the smaller loop. Fold the small strip of vinyl into a loop and screw it to the underside of the gunwale just like you did with the larger one.

4. Check if the Gun Fits

Canoe gun rack.
Make sure your gun is unloaded, and check to see if it fits. Ryan Chelius

Take your unloaded shotgun and slide the stock into the large loop. Then slide the barrel into the small loop to make sure it fits properly.

5. Cut and Sew the Fabric Shotgun Cover

Camouflage waterproof fabric.
Cut a strip of waterproof canvas and hem the edges. Ryan Chelius

Although the gun is now elevated and secure, water can still splash on it. To cover it, cut a rectangular flap of waterproof canvas big enough to cover the gun. Sew the fabric with a ¾-inch hem around the edges.

Read Next: How to Build the Ultimate DIY Duck Blind

6. Install Snaps in the Fabric And on the Canoe

Button snap on fabric.
Use a snap kit to attach buttons to the fabric. Ryan Chelius

With a boat canvas snap kit from a West Marine or local marine supply store, secure the button side of the snaps to the fabric flap at 6-inch intervals. Then, match the flap up to the inside of the canoe gunwale (over the shotgun), and mark where the corresponding snap studs are to be located.

Canvas covering shotgun in canoe gun rack.
The canvas cover will keep water off of your shotgun. Ryan Chelius

Drill and screw the snap studs onto the inboard side of the gunwale. (Don’t install the snap studs on top of the gunwale because they can catch when you load your boat onto a roof rack.) Snap the canvas flap onto the canoe and drape it over your gun. The flaps can be easily snapped on and off at the launch and stowed when unloading or transporting the canoe.