Building a shooting backstop

This is a discussion on Building a shooting backstop within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I think this belongs here, it's a shooting question, kinda. I want to build myself a little shooting range on my property. I do not ...

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Thread: Building a shooting backstop

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    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    Building a shooting backstop

    I think this belongs here, it's a shooting question, kinda.

    I want to build myself a little shooting range on my property. I do not have a dirt hill or bank to shoot into or build upon, so whatever I do will be pretty much from scratch. There is a small, immature woods behind me and no houses line of sight, or even in view, but just in case someone checks out the shooting, which I'm allowed to do, I want something "bulletproof" so to speak. And just for more info, the cop next to me shoots quite often, sometimes 100 rounds or so, and just uses a paper target. His bullets carry right into those woods, which I don't think is the safest idea, but he shoots primarily handguns. I (and the neighbor) want to shoot rifles and anything else.
    So we're thinking of getting some railroad ties and building a wall. That will get us started anyway. From what I've read a dirt backstop can be quickly constructed incorporating brush and logs. That we would build behind the RR tie wall.

    Now, I know this is a pretty subjective question, but what do you think? Does this sound like a plan? Do you think the dirt/brush pile could be better served being in front of the ties instead, with the ties as a last resort? What about width and height? Obviously the wider and higher the better, but realistically speaking, 10'w x 6'h? This is to be our range and we don't intend to let someone come in and crack a shot off at 300 yards without first hitting their target at a closer range, but obviously the further back you go, the nicer it is to have a nice big backstop, regardless if there are no houses behind us or not.

    Has anyone here ever built themself a little range and have any ideas to share?

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    I'd pay for 'safety' by having a few loads of dirt brought in and make a safe shooting range in a dirt bunker, but that's just me.OMO
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    gtv
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    Where I shoot, we have a hillside as a natural barrier, so we just hang our targets in front of the hill and shoot into the dirt. Bullets rarely penetrate very deeply into the earth... most are found less than 8 inches or so deep, and that includes .30-06, 7.62x54R, and 7.5x55 Swiss.

    I would put the dirt in front of the ties... no sense in shooting up perfectly good ties, just let the earth absorb the bullets and use the ties as a frame to keep your berm in shape. A dirt berm will be more than adequate. Heck, the military used sandbags for ages, and the Box o' Truth looked at sand and determined that 6" was enough for all of the calibers he tested (.22LR, 9mm, .45 ACP, .223, .308, .45-70, 12 gauge slug). Try to make sure there aren't any big rocks sticking out of the front of the berm that could cause ricochets (we regularly check our backstop to make sure no rocks have slid down slope or have become uncovered during shooting), and make it as wide, tall and deep as funds allow, and you should be good.

    That said, a dirt berm won't protect you against a law suit if someone misses it... you will be held responsible for what happens on your property, so pick your shooting buddies carefully. (Sorry, I haven't practiced law in ten years, but old habits die hard.)
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    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    Thanks for confirming to build the dirt up in front, gtv.

    Having dirt brought in would certainly save a lot of time, retsupt. I'll have to check into that. I think I'd still like the ties as some sort of structure though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PAcanis View Post
    Thanks for confirming to build the dirt up in front, gtv.

    Having dirt brought in would certainly save a lot of time, retsupt. I'll have to check into that. I think I'd still like the ties as some sort of structure though.
    dirt = sand

    I actually took a course on a fellow's property...he had 14 acres. He had built two separate areas for shooting...two sand bunkers that were ideal for pistol shooting.
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    Member Array Keisukekun's Avatar
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    yeh throwing up a dirt berm would be the best thing to do thats what we did on our prop up north

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    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    Can you describe the sand bunkers, retsup? I found a formula online when I was checking into sandbags and it seems like it would take a LOT of sandbags and sand or dirt to fill them with to get a wall of any size, although that would solve my next question.

    Is there anything that can be done to grow the berms upward without the bottoms spreading, so the wall grows vertically more quickly with less dirt/sand? We were thinking we would need the ties to build up against at least on one side.

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    PAcanis...

    This fellow's place just appeared to have huge dump truck loads, probably 12' high and several loads to make it 30' wide...formed a "U" shape. He had two of these with one side of the "U" dividing his two shooting ranges. One range was just for pistol paper targets, and the other side had a few metal targets.
    He had enough room to easily put up a couple of 12' x 12' fold-up canopy tops (side by side) to shoot under if it rained a bit...which it did for a while.
    Nothing fancy, but it seemed to work perfectly.
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    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    Thanks. He must have had some heavy equipment come in to build it up that high. Even a tri-ax dump truck can only give you a pile about 5 ft high, the height of the bed, then the truck needs to pull forward to keep dumping. A typical tractor with a loader can lift maybe 6-7 ft high, but then they have a hard time driving up to the mound because the base keeps spreading out. Twelve feet would be nice. I don't see achieving that height though.

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    Distinguished Member Array INccwchris's Avatar
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    I would get enough railroad ties to build a beam shaped in a wide cornered off U shape to help confine the sand/dirt. Then have a dump truck come in and dump a few loads in front of it. Then your berm will have support from the back. For good measure I would build some triangle shaped axles behind your railroad ties to help support them. Obviously the best way to use the ties would be to use 2X12 boards screwed into them to hold them up, this makes it solid, then build yourself a nice little shed and get a metal outdoor canopy with a tarp for shooting in the rain.
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    I wish I had a picture, will try to post one later. I have a multi gun range at the big farm, but on the closer place, I built using cross ties and berm. I chose to put the ties in front. I placed 14" cresoted posts9cut telephone poles) in place 4' deep. I stacked the ties on top and alternated ends so I could drill through the ties and pin with #5 rebar I then hauled 2 10 yard trucks of #3 select fill and piled it up behind ties with backhoe--yes I have dump trucks and equipment available. I planted grass seed on the fill.

    Then I nailed left over treated 2 X 6 crosswise between front support posts and put a double layer of "left over/cull" 2 X material and this absorbs most except AP M-2 ball. This backstop is used primarily for pistol and rimfire practice so it is getting little to the cross ties. I shoot HP rifle mostly at the more distant range--15 minutes vs 5minutes. We shoot a lot of steel and I have it so I can take it down easily or change out thickness and shapes. I think it will last 10 years plus at current wear--we shoot weekly. Since this was Easter holiday for the grand kids, we shot both Friday and Saturday.

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    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    A picture would be fantastic, Bear.

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    Backstop picture

    I know this is an old thread but I took this picture a few months ago when my wife and I were looking at property in the Sierrra foothills of NorCal. Although it may not be perfect I think it has merit and I will likely make something along these lines.

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    New Member Array jonmclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrikeMike View Post
    I know this is an old thread but I took this picture a few months ago when my wife and I were looking at property in the Sierrra foothills of NorCal. Although it may not be perfect I think it has merit and I will likely make something along these lines.

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    i just stacked 9 cross ties up 2 wide, built some sides on the back side sealed it up with scraps, and started filling it with calitche sand. didnt last very long about half way up with sand it pushed the bottom tie out and had a great fall, ill be starting over in the morning, using 8 t posts,and plumbers tape screwed into each log, instead of just 2 t posts on the ends with a couple of logs screwed down. im shooting into the cross ties side and im wondering what is the purpose of dirt infront of that?


    photo.JPG

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    Senior Member Array RicT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonmclean View Post
    i just stacked 9 cross ties up 2 wide, built some sides on the back side sealed it up with scraps, and started filling it with calitche sand. didnt last very long about half way up with sand it pushed the bottom tie out and had a great fall, ill be starting over in the morning, using 8 t posts,and plumbers tape screwed into each log, instead of just 2 t posts on the ends with a couple of logs screwed down. im shooting into the cross ties side and im wondering what is the purpose of dirt infront of that?




    photo.JPG
    jonmclean,

    What about some 8 ft lengths of rebar, pounded into the Caliche (I realize that would be difficult, I lived for about 8 yrs in New Mexico, that caliche is VERY tough), to hold the RR ties in place, before you fill the space with more dirt/caliche/sand. That should hold the ties in place, which then would contain the dirt/caliche...the purpose of the dirt in FRONT of the ties is to stop the bullets before they can chew thru the ties. Without the dirt, the ties will eventually be so weakened, that they would need to be replaced. With the dirt, you can also screen the dirt to retrieve your bullets (if you use lead "boolits") and re-melt them/re-use them.

    Also check this video out; he's using metal braces and tension straps on the ties:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndUj0MrfEag
    Last edited by RicT; May 8th, 2013 at 11:27 AM. Reason: more info added

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