By Alfred M. Jacocks Jr.
Most fixed-position ladder stands and climbing stands come equipped from the factory with a metal shooting rail.
This metal rail, in most cases, is covered with a Velcro-on type of padding that is covered by cloth. I've found the factory supplied padding rarely covers the entire length of the shooting rail, and there is often bare metal where you wish there was more padding.
This is easily remedied by the use of a cheap and easy-to-find product you can purchase at most any hardware store: foam pipe insulation.
Foam pipe insulation generally comes in 36-inch or 48-inch lengths. These round, foam pipe covers make a great pad to cover the bare spots on your shooting rails. They are easy to pop on or remove, and will last for years.
Pipe insulation comes in different diameters, so pick the size padding you believe will fit snugly around your rail. Usually, 1-inch diameters do well.
Simply bring a box-cutter or sharp knife with you to the treestand and slice the insulation to the lengths you'll need. Then slip them over the bare spots.
If you want to alter the pad to turn at the corners, mark the pad on the outsides of the corners and slice vertically and about halfway through. Now it will bend more easily.
It's not a bad idea to bring a roll of duct tape and make a wrap or two in a few places to secure the padding.
The additional padding will prevent your gun barrel from clinking against the metal rails. It also provides a quiet, more workable rest for your rifle when the time comes to take a shot. And, we all know how uncomfortable it is to rest an elbow against a cold, metal rail.
Hopefully, this tip will be an effective and inexpensive solution to all of the above.