What you've determined about drop test is correct. If you need to drop it on something specific, drop test won't work.
For nonlinear, you need to use nonlinear dynamic. It sounds like you might be using nonlinear static
I am with Jared here. It sounds like you did not use NL Dynamic or did not set the initial conditions correctly if you did. It does all that you need. I worked on a methods development project for a client to get them a method to assess solar panels for hail impacts - NL dynamic worked very well. It sounds very similar to what you are trying to do. Setting the damping will be the part of this one that will need some care (as it is with al dynamic analysis).
Yep, I was using static analysis. I guess I chose that since all the SolidWorks tutorials for NL were static. I'm only quite new with simulation and I was focusing more on the drop test, as that seemed like the obvious choice.
Having some issues still, but its good to know its possible. Off to experiment!
Thanks a bunch, very much appreciated!