Best back stop for Home range


October 20, 2006, 05:58 PM
I am thinking of setting up of my own shooting range in the back yard. Was talking with the wife and she is not crazy about putting up a pile of dirt to act as a stop. More like I just got the back yard landscaped and you want to put a pile of dirt. :D

Is there any other methads or materials that could be used as a back stop?

Maybe somthing not permant?


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October 20, 2006, 06:02 PM
Some ranges have portable backstops.

I think they have their places indoors, but outside is another story. you need a dependable backstop, not just a pile of dirt.

October 20, 2006, 06:13 PM
I should have also asked

For those who have ranges at home, how did you set up an effective backstop.


October 20, 2006, 07:00 PM
I have a small firing range in my back yard. The backstop, mind you, is very small aprox 3-4' wide by 2.5' tall. I used white sinthetic fiber bags (100 pound+/-) full of sand with a thick board of rather soft wood in front to staple my targets on. The bags are the kind that you see used by USAID for flour or grains that are given to third world refugees. I use it mainly to fire a .22LR carbine on the weekends, occasionaly I fire a .45ACP against it and it holds up fine.

A single row of these sand filled bags will stop pistol rounds cold (I've tried .22's, .45's, 9mm's, .357SIG and 00buck). I added a second row behind the first just to be sure. Don't know about centerfire rifles or shotgun slugs. You can make this unatractive backstop dissapear very fast as most of the sand will be contained within the bags, just thow them on a wheelbarrow and cart them away. The bags will eventually make the lawn underneath it die because of the weight and lack of sunlight and might leave a bald patch.

October 20, 2006, 07:42 PM
Ours was made by mother nature (hillside) but our next door neighbor made one by basically building a 4'x4'x4' box out of heavy duty planks (4x4 posts in the corners) filled with dirt. You could fill it with sand and tell your wife it's a big-boy sandbox :D Just make sure kids don't play in it if you have any.

October 20, 2006, 09:19 PM
Ah, the high road.

Ohen Cepel
October 20, 2006, 09:22 PM
Barrels with dirt (depending on how high power you're looking into going).

Not easy, but they can be moved or covered when not in use.

Mr White
October 20, 2006, 09:48 PM
Don't know if you have access to large pieces of plate steel, but a guy I know put pieces of plate steel then a row of horizontal logs, then 2 rows of vertical logs. The baskstop was maybe 40"x40" and he didn't do a lot of shooting at it, but it worked.

Jim K
October 20, 2006, 09:54 PM
What about the legal issues? Is it legal to shoot in your area? Is there a law requiring ranges to meet certain conditions or be licensed? Is there a minimum property size for shooting or for a range? How about zoning?

If you miss the backstop, where will the bullet(s) go? ("I never miss" is not the right answer.)

We may not like it, but there are fewer and fewer areas where a person can just shoot on his own property with no problem. Even where it is legal, a stray round that kills or injures someone can result in a lawsuit that will destroy your life.

Just some thoughts to show that the amount of dirt in the backstop is only one aspect of the situation.


October 20, 2006, 10:00 PM
I made a framework out of old tires, stacked in a wall about four feet high.

Atop this framework, I poured two big, six-wheeled dump truck loads of good river bottom dirt (no rocks at all in it).

I did the final shaping and sculpting with a shovel and my own back.

It's held very well.

Beyond my dirt-over-old-tire wall is unihabited Ozark forest and a mountain ridge.


October 20, 2006, 10:01 PM
Oh yeah...I seeded the back and sides of my dirt berm with grass.

It blends very well now, and the grass helps prevent erosion on three sides.


October 20, 2006, 10:07 PM
I would think bales of hay would work. Sand bags would also be a good choice.

October 20, 2006, 10:21 PM
I think I would seriously consider what Jim Kenan said. There may not be legal implications to firing a gun in your area, but if you miss the backstop, or ND, are you going to endanger someone drinking a beer on their patio?

I'm fortunate to have a place where I can shoot at a local range which is pretty secluded and has good backstops. But for a longer drive, I can go to our family farm where I have my own range set up with markers out to 900 yds. The backstop there is a dirt pile which others here have said may be ineffective. My dirt pile is about 400yds long, 200yds thick, and 400 ft high. We call it a ridge. I think it's pretty effective at stopping anything I'll throw at it.

October 20, 2006, 10:31 PM
I dunno, man. I hear that the .50BMG can actually shoot through tectonic plates... even if you miss! :neener:

M2 Carbine
October 20, 2006, 10:32 PM
If you can get some 1/4 or 3/8 inch steel plate, a easy way to hang it is using two steel fence posts.
And if you have a welder you can build bullet traps to.
Backed up with something to stopped a possible miss the (unhardened) steel plate works good for 9mm and 45ACP.

This has been my back yard pistol range for over 20 years.
The dirt pile covers the storm cellar.

October 20, 2006, 10:37 PM
I have made quite a few bullet traps for .22lr and and standard velocity pistol using 3/8 inch steel plate at a 45% angle to deflect the lead to the sandbox bottom.

October 20, 2006, 11:08 PM
I have nothing but a swamp behind where i would like tp put the back stop in. After the swamp the terrain raises. So any misses to the backstop, would go right into the swamp. Especially since i would be shooting ar the backstop from a little higher up.


October 21, 2006, 12:33 AM
M2 I wouldn't wanna mess with that attack cat! :)

Unless your wife is worried about obstructing the view to the swamp I'd go with a media-filled box (sand, dirt, tires, etc) of good size. If you want to camo it further you can plant foliage on and around it, or even get one of those nifty camo nets used to cover vehicles. I think places like Sportsman's guide usually sells them.

October 21, 2006, 05:18 PM
Look here easy to build, cheap if you can find scrap steel. I have five of these now. They weigh about 40 pounds. Will deflect a 30-30 round at 25 yards (will dimple steel), 22lr will just splash as will any .17 rim fire round. Read about shielding the sides. Had to replace the frame of my first after about 2K rounds, have the sides covered with scrap conveyor belt and they are at 4.5K and going strong. BTY if you intend to leave it out use treated 2x4 lumber.

October 21, 2006, 05:45 PM
You can always do what I did. I used my dad's logging equipment to drag a log up into a field and pushed some dirt up against it. The log is about 10ft long and about 30" thick and weighs about a million pounds(maybe a little less:cool: ). The cavity in the middle there is from about 5000 rds of various ammo, from .22 up through 30'06. My home built range is 50 yards. Works fine.

October 21, 2006, 07:08 PM
Old, used-up tires work great; just make sure to fill them up with dirt or sand or they'll hold rainwater and become mosquito breeding grounds.
Sandbags are good, too.

October 21, 2006, 08:22 PM
I'll go with the other posters that have recommended tires. Make a stack of them. Tall stack with the tires stacked like coins. Then fill from the top with dirt/sand. (Build a ramp for your wheelbarrow.) Two or three stacks of tires side by side for the front. Then ideally a whole 'nuther matching set of tires behind those. And then the slope of the dirt ramp you built in the back to fill them. Should stop anything. Plenty big.


October 21, 2006, 08:43 PM
I used a combination of dirt pile and a hole. My range is a downhill, downward shooting 100 yard range. I used the tractor to dig a hole and build up a bank behind the hole. Hole is approx 2 feet deep and targets or whatever go in hole. Natural earth behind the whole is my "backstop" since I shoot down hill. The dirt pile is my emergency/way off target backstop followed by flat ground behind it (shooting downhill) and lots o' trees. My other shooting site was more flat and I was going to build a wall of logs (trees cut down) with dirt behind it as a back stop.

October 21, 2006, 10:16 PM
If your wife doesn't like dirt I doubt the stack of old tires will win her over!

Try making some kind of planter box - maybe a long row of railroad ties with 4 to 6 feet of dirt in it - I mena 6 feet back from the front - then grow sunflowers or chili plants on it or vines around it sort of like backdtop camologe - hmmm, maybe even flowers?

October 22, 2006, 10:22 AM
Hmmm...tough call, if you can't just use a dirt pile. I'd try to convice the wife that you can build something thats not too ugly (use plantings, logs, landscape timbers, railroad ties (if you can get em), then plant stuff around it

On my property I have about a 50 ft. elevation change from the bottom to the the top where the house sits (10 acres). So I've put out some old appliances (the garbage guys won't take 'em), with some 2 foot diameter logs behind them, and behind them the hillside (about halfway up the property). Believe it or not, I'm actually shooting directly towards my house/barn. But, that way the neighbors can't complain, as my own property would be the first stuff hit! Any shots that might go over the "range" would likely get stopped farther up the hill, or by the heavy trees farther up, or worst case, by my house/barn!

I am (if I can afford it) gonna get a bulldozer in there and make if better, but it's really safe enough, as is.

January 2, 2007, 02:06 AM
Thinking maybe a pallet of grass :D

Essex County
January 2, 2007, 01:15 PM
I live in Vermont and my backstop is across the river. It's called the White Mountains of New Hampshire....Essex

January 2, 2007, 02:10 PM
If you, and by you I mean your wife, are really worried about aesthetics, I have a good idea, but it might cost a bit more. How about building the shell of a shed? Maybe build your sand box, and then cover the sides with that textured sheathing that you can buy at home depot, paint it and put some barn type doors on it, and maybe a few 2x4 and some more of that sheathing painted black for a roof. This way, when you are not using it, it looks like a shed from the house. When you want to use it, you just open the doors.

January 2, 2007, 02:20 PM
Use tree trunks stacked up and two or three thick. If you really need to, you could probably make it look nice. You can also cover the logs in dirt after, that way the spaces between the logs will be filled with dirt.

January 2, 2007, 03:18 PM
I'd think dirt would still be the best backstop and probably the cheapest too. Why not try to figure out a way to plant shrubs or flowers around and on it somehow? Just my 2c.

January 3, 2007, 03:42 PM
I got a massive earthern dam to shoot in one place and a deep gully for another, so I am taken care of quite well. There used to be an almost vertical hill that used to go 6 feet high though my neighbour bought the land and flattened it out for a horse pasture. Shame as it was a nice break.

January 3, 2007, 03:59 PM
I have got a question about the tires,

Will small, low velocity rounds bounce off of them? Say Subsonic .22's?
Cause thats what i would shoot the most into it.

January 3, 2007, 04:04 PM
Rosie O'Donnell?

Seriously, though, I have used about 1.5" of tightly compacted newspaper laid flat in a computer keyboard box and taped shut, over a plank.

It stopped .22 CB Shorts from a revolver, though I originally meant it for 1000 FPS .177 lead pellets from an "adult air rifle." Neither the .22's nor the pellets reached the plank behind the newsprint, though the .22's penetrated deeper.

Don't crumple the newspaper, just lay the pages flat, as thick as you can make them, in something that holds them tightly compacted. A few inches of that, with VERY low power rounds like .22 CB's can work. I'd still back it with a plank, and set up the whole thing where it's generally safe. Replace the newspaper often; it's cheap anyway.:)

Molon Labe
January 3, 2007, 06:04 PM
I shoot everything from .22 to .50 BMG on my property.

When I was building the range, I was wondering what to use for a backstop. I thought about hauling dirt in, but I figured that it wouldn't be a very good solution. Why? Well, you need quite a bit of dirt to get a height of even 4 or 5 feet. Secondly, the face of the mound is at an angle, which increases the chance of ricochet. Third, dirt freezes in the winter, which increases the chance of ricochet even more.

If it's not already obvious, the design of your backstop should minimize the chance of ricochets. ;)

So here's what I did: I had a bunch of railroad ties delivered, and I stacked them up about 4 feet high and three ties deep. This setup has the following advantages:

- Simple... just stack ties using tongs.

- When ties get shot up, simply order new ones and/or make rearrangements to the existing ties using tongs.

- The ties form a wall that is approx. orthogonal to the direction of the bullet. This minimizes ricochets.

- Unlike tires, railroad ties are not an eyesore. And they don't hold water. (Tires hold water and become mosquito breeding grounds.)

- If you ever move, the railroad ties probably won't be a problem. But if your backstop is made of tires, you will probably have to dispose of them.

- When the railroad ties get shot up, they simply degrade.

- A wall that is three ties deep will stop a .50 BMG round.

Chuck R.
January 3, 2007, 08:41 PM
I was lucky and had a hill to dig into.

Well, actually I looked for a suitable piece of property complete with natural backstop (hill) for a while.


January 3, 2007, 09:49 PM
There are a lot of good suggestions here, but at least one that you should stay away from - hay bales. Compressed grasses aren't very good bullet stoppers - even if shot "lengthwise", anything larger than a .22 can emerge still at lethal velocity.

I use logs, minimum 12" in diameter, stacked four rows deep for a backstop. The logs are stacked against a vertical 3/4" plywood front. My targets are tacked to another log in front of the plywood sheet. So far, I have had only a few bullets even get through the "target log", (mostly 30-06 and .303) and into the plywood. None have penetrated through the first row of backstop logs.

January 4, 2007, 12:08 PM
That's a hill, Chuck?:D

Chuck R.
January 5, 2007, 09:27 AM
That's a hill, Chuck?:D

Hey, for KS that's practically a mountain! Next year I'm working on the "T" Bar and possibly a chair lift the year after:D


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