Building a private outdoor shooting range?


June 8, 2006, 03:54 AM

After looking at (excellent webpage btw) it seems that for having a private outdoor range it would be enough to buy a small piece of land in the woods, make a big hole - like for an olympic swimming pool - and start shooting. :D

- Is it legal to have your own outdoor shooting range within your property?
- What about the neighbours? I guess nobody would like to be too close to a shooting range… Dangerous and too noisy.

What is your opinion? Maybe shooting from inside a big hole will be less dangerous for neighbours and the noise will be reduced?

Would it be feasible to have your own outdoor shooting range?


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Car Knocker
June 8, 2006, 08:23 AM
It is all dependent upon exactly where the proposed range is to be located and the laws in that jurisdiction.

June 8, 2006, 08:28 AM
Unless you are in an area where firing a gun is prohibited, like within some city limits, I think it is a fine idea. If you have land out in the country, go for it! What is the going rate on bulldozer rentals?

A note on neighbors:
Don't know about other states, but NYS law says you cannot discharge a firearm if you are within 500 feet of any structure unless you have permission from the owner of said structure. I imagine this is more for noise than it is for safety. Obviously firing in the direction of the house is illegal anyway.
Common Courtesy says 1/4 mile would be better, depending on the terrain. That's just my take on it.

bill in IN
June 8, 2006, 08:30 AM
All that is usually needed is a backstop sufficient for what you plan to shoot. I make sure that nothing leaves my property, except noise. The military has design specs for a range that does not require a backstop but does require distance and angle from range direction but I would strongly advise the use of an adequate backstop.
Digging a hole will concentrate the sound in the range area and it would be quite a task for a 100 or 200 yard range.

June 8, 2006, 08:50 AM
Next to basic common sense regarding safety, local laws and ordinances are the most important considerations. A "a small piece of land in the woods" can mean any number of things - one acre, ten acres, fifty acres - and neighbors (if any) can play a role. The good thing is that the vegetation in "woods" will help to muffle sound a little. If you build a shack and line it with something like foam insulation, then just shoot through a window, sound will be further muffled.

And then, are you shooting rifle, pistol, Class III . . . best answer is "it depends on the SPECIFIC situation."

June 8, 2006, 09:02 AM

I was thinking something in the range of 10 hectares.
But I haven't bought that 'piece' of land yet … (btw I live in Finland but I'm not finnish.)

It is a project I have though, but it will still have to wait for a few years more…

If I do it, of course it has to be big enough for pistol and rifle shooting.

June 8, 2006, 09:50 AM
I've got one (Pistol) and my next door neighbor and I share a rifle range that's on both of our properties. It's not too tough assuming you've met all the local laws. I would recommend hiring a dozer though to build your berm. You CAN build one with a small Kubota tractor . .but it will take you a long time. :) (I spent my first summer here working every night after work)

June 8, 2006, 10:01 AM
What are the laws in Suomi regarding discharge of firearms and the distances from other property and structures?

From a practical sense you would want an existing hillside to use as a backstop. Lacking property with a hill to use as a backstop, you'll want to build a backstop that it at leas 5 meters high and a minimum of 1 meter thick. You'll want the backstop to be long enough to subtend a 30 degree angle from your shooting station.

Since sound suppressors are legal in Suomi you could address the noise issue by using them.

June 9, 2006, 02:34 AM

If I remember correctly, it is illegal in Suomi (Finland) to discharge a firearm within 150 mts from a structure.
(then, I would need a place that is at least 300 mts - or more - in length and width )

I like this idea of building a backstop that it at least 5 meters high, a minimum of 1 meter thick and long enough to catch a (30 degree angle) strayed bullet fired from the shooting station. Sounds secure enough.

I still have one doubt though… If I don’t use a suppressor? How far away, the noise of a shooting range can be considered as annoying?

In this thread I read that a few persons have their own outdoor shooting range. Did your neighbors complain about the noise?

June 9, 2006, 06:46 AM
I think eventually you'll run into problems with the Feds and lead (its lurking out there and is yet another way of trying to shut down private and public ranges.) There are some good resources about building ranges, and I know someone who has done it recently. The NRA offers a book/program for $50.00 to guide you through the process. It may help you with any liability issues that arise later, especially if you ever want to sell your property.

June 9, 2006, 06:54 PM
Berms are the way to go..."digging a hole" means, depending on rainfall and soil conditions, all you're building is a duck pond.

Don't ask me how I know this...


Otherguy Overby
June 9, 2006, 07:27 PM
In Arkansas, I just start shootin'. I could open a window (it's cheaper) or go outside iff'n its a nice day. There are NO rules in unincorporated parts of my county of residence.

June 9, 2006, 08:04 PM
If he's got a private range on private property he won't have a problem with lead regulations. He's not engaged in a commercial activity and he'd be far below the small quantity exemption limits (at leas in this country). I can't speak to Suomi (Finland) regs. If that's a concern then it could be addressed by using ammunition that has lead-free bullets or with fully jacketed bullet with the bases sealed.

I can't even begin to guess the nuisance noise regs in Suomi. You can mitigate the noise problem by being sure that there's a thick screen of conifers between you and your neighbors. Add some good canvas tarps near the shooting station strung in pairs with an 8 cm separation between them and you'll further absorb the sound and get a good 15 dB reduction (pulled this one off at a DOE site as a cheap field-expedient :D ).

June 9, 2006, 08:54 PM
Yea, I can't speak for Finland (I can't even speak TO Finland!) :)

But here? Yeah, I can see the day when land owners will be held responsible. This is the gun grabbers latest and greatest trick and while its only being used against clubs right now, I can see the day when that could change.

June 10, 2006, 09:42 AM
You have not even ask the important questions.

What does local zoning say?

What is the water table like and where does run off from the range take the possible lead contaminate? If it carriers it into a source of public water that CAN lead to big problems for you.

How far away are your neighbors? Have you talked to them? One good lawsuit to shut you down as a public nuisance and you are spending money out of pocket.

Most importantly, how will you contain the shots?

If a shot goes wild, meaning over the berm, what is in the possible impact area out to about 2500 meters in a 90 degree fan from the shooting position? One miracle round thru someones house or barn and you could be facing major dollar payouts, even in no person is hurt.

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