fearful neighbor


May 4, 2009, 12:23 AM
I have a neighbor who is deathly afraid of target practice gunfire. I am shooting at four double stacks of solid oak firewood backed by large stumps and also shooting low into sandy soil. Shes called the sheriff several times, he nevered stopped but drove by. Today she was bangin on the door wanting to know who was shooting at what. We had a discussion about how unsafe gunfire was and accidental shooting. It was a friendly conversation but she was trying to force me into saying i'd stop. I gave of the same impression that I wouldn't. She left saying she felt better and would try to relax, but at the same time gave the impression of being totally scared to death of shooting.

Whats the best way to deal with this? I have 10 acreas and am shooting into never never land. NOTHING is in my line of fire for miles. Shes worried about a 10 acre ricochet from a handgun.

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Jorg Nysgerrig
May 4, 2009, 12:31 AM
Some folks around here will tell you it's your God given right to shoot whenever you want and you should throw that in her face, but that isn't going to win many friends*.

If you've got 10 acres, you might just see about setting up a more "permanent looking" shooting range a bit further away from her. You should clarify whether it is the prospect of a stray round that bothers her, the noise, or both.

If it's a stray round, making sure you've got a big berm and shooting further away from her may allay her fears. If it is the noise, moving a bit further away or limiting your shooting to a few hours in the afternoon may set things straight. You can't imagine the difference in perception people have when there is a semblence of some attempt for improvement. I've shown people shooting spots in the desert with a 500' hill as a backdrop and they'll ask if I am worried about riccochets. At the same time, no one has ever been concerned about the spots where a backhoe has taken out a load of gravel from 20' tall knoll.

*(Regarding winning friends, there will certainly be some internet chest thumping about "the sound of freedom" and that she should enjoy it, but the reality of the matter is that this is the way noise and shooting ordinances come about.)

May 4, 2009, 12:32 AM
How long have you lived there, and how long has she?

May 4, 2009, 12:33 AM
Yeesh, I feel for you. Tell her that liberty is a scary thing sometimes, and that there are plenty of other countries where she'd feel more comfortable.

May 4, 2009, 12:35 AM
Maybe invite her for some target shooting? She doesn't seem angry that you have the right to shoot, but more so scared of her safety. Once you desensitize her to the world of guns and shooting, she'll realize that it would be an irrational fear in that case. It'd also be a good opportunity to show her how safe you are when shooting.

May 4, 2009, 12:36 AM
I hate to say it, but ten acres isn't very much for a safety zone...


May 4, 2009, 12:44 AM
Shes scared of the noise and the possiblity of getting hit. We've been here longer, and we've also been robbed. Actually it's my mothers house and ONLY on sunday when I pick up my boys from the weekend with grandma I fire 30 rounds or so seldom more unless it's .22. I've fired 9mm .357 .45 .410 .12ga and for 10 rounds 7.62 x 39. I don't as a rule fire rifle or shotguns out there. But handguns are loud also. Actually I don't think there is a solution other than I do it and she gets used to it. She is a city lady from what I gathered and also a tree hugger.

May 4, 2009, 12:50 AM
Also it's in bastrop texas and the ground is very soft, and sandy. Absolutly no rocks and in a fully wooded area. There is no way for a bullet to pass though the target and steer through acre of trees. Also aiming low into the soil.

May 4, 2009, 12:54 AM
She is a city lady from what I gathered and also a tree hugger.
I am shooting at four double stacks of solid oak firewood backed by large stumps...

Well, see there ya go. She's mad because you're just mutilating the bodies of those poor innocent dead trees. :neener:

May 4, 2009, 12:55 AM
You're not his neighbor are you,Les?
10 blooming acres!

No. Ten acres just doesn't add up to much distance, no matter where you start from... Unless you're shooting into a really-high natural berm.


Cpt. America
May 4, 2009, 12:57 AM
Tell her to get used to it.

May 4, 2009, 12:59 AM
Buy her a set of earplugs.

Some dogs are afraid of thunder. You've seen this, of course, where the dog (even big ones) will cower under a chair.

I've long suspected that a similar phenomenon can occur with some people. Just a belief, you understand.

I'm not suggesting earplugs sarcastically, but because I think it might actually help.

You can approach her diplomatically about it, saying you recognize that gunfire noise actually bothers some people and that it might help her. Remind her that it's both safe and legal.

You might invite the LEOs to shoot there once in a while, too.

Several people here and elsewhere have commented that folks move out from the city, and then they want to convert the country back into the city, forgetting what goes along with being in the country.

Terry, 230RN

May 4, 2009, 01:07 AM
I know just how you feel!!

After living in our house 2+ yrs., my M.in-law put a mobile home on the back of our 5 acres. I would shoot off the back deck & found out later (3-4 weeks after her move) that the gun fire would "scare her to death".

Funny.... I seem to remember shooting w/ my pa in-law 100ft from their old house w/o so much as a peep from her. :scrutiny:

After finding out about her discomfort.... I would call to forwarn her before shooting, but my firing sessions would be twice as long. :evil:

May 4, 2009, 01:15 AM
just say "this is my piece of dirt i was here first what do yah think about that" lol sorry im listening to music

just be polite tell her that you arent breaking anylaws and you are confident in your backstop

May 4, 2009, 01:21 AM
So is she ten acres behind your backstop or ten acres next to you? That could change a few things.

EDIT: Rereading the OP, nevermind I missed the "nothing for miles behind line of fire" part.

May 4, 2009, 01:29 AM
Maybe invite her for some target shooting? She doesn't seem angry that you have the right to shoot, but more so scared of her safety. Once you desensitize her to the world of guns and shooting, she'll realize that it would be an irrational fear in that case. It'd also be a good opportunity to show her how safe you are when shooting.

Best answer so far, IMO. Carl is wise. I agree to take her to the shooting location, and show just exactly what your setup is, what you're doing, and how. Maybe even offer her a .22 rifle to try.

Ya never know, she might take a likin' to it. Which could create a whole new problem....

Ned Kelly
May 4, 2009, 01:54 AM
I shoot guns a lot but for some reason when I am at home in town and I hear a 22 or shotgun go off it makes me cringe.

I don't know why really I guess I am always wondering if I am being shot at. Like a bell going off in my head.

May 4, 2009, 02:05 AM
I'm with Ned on this...

If I had a neighbor who was firing Guns often, I'd be cringing and uncomfortable also...wondering when a riochet or miss or AD is going to hit the Vase on the Piano, buzz-my-Ear, or ding my Car whatever.

No easy answer there...

Ideally...as others already suggested - see if she'd like to learn to Shoot...and, with that, only Shoot at sheduled predictable times.

It's the 'unknown' factors, with people shooting close by, which can bother or un-nerve...

May 4, 2009, 03:09 AM
I wouldn't advise inviting her to shoot so fast. Considering her emotional and illogical foolishness, she would more likely endanger you and herself than a randomly picked stranger. Trying to help people like her tends to backfire rather badly. Stay away.

Try to shoot at her favorite time if possible, move your range back (unless your current spot has the only backdrop), etc etc...I'd have a talk with the police if they kept responding to her crying wolf. She's the one causing the problem. It's time to put a stop to her pounding on your door, asking questions...don't bow to that garbage. She won't stop unless you ignore it or figure something else out.

May 4, 2009, 03:22 AM
I agree with Jorg. Build up a dirt berm to shoot into. It will give her some piece of mind and actually be safer for you too.

What do you do with the firewood after you've used it as a backstop? I'd think twice about using in a fireplace, especially if there are kids in the house.

May 4, 2009, 03:41 AM
That is the good thing about where I live... If the neighbors hear you shooting they get their guns and join you. The worst thing I had to deal with was some old lady saying I was shooting her cat... A cop drives over to me and asks me and I am like "With what?" and he is like "A gun of some sort..." I just looked at him funny and was like "I don't even have one..." Well he just gave me a warning and left then got another call and another call... old lady still says I am shooting at her cat so he comes over and searches me...

Go figure there is no gun on me of any type... I asked him where he even saw a cat at because at this point I was getting annoyed thinking the cop has nothing better to do than to bother me... so I started getting somewhat mouthy at that point I mean you search me 3 times, I empty my pockets, and I am nowhere near anything... I told him I wanted to know who was insisting I was shooting her cat... he said he would go talk to her. So I see him yet again about 20 minutes later... turns out the lady didn't even have a cat but she knew the boys in the street were shooting it...

General Geoff
May 4, 2009, 03:56 AM
the best solution is: Get a silencer. :)

May 4, 2009, 08:20 AM
Since you're only there periodically maybe it's the suddenness of the gunfire that startles her. Tell her you will give her a heads up before you start shooting in the future and ask for her phone number. It will show her a degree of respect and make you a good neighbor and may be all you need to change her attitude. If this is agreeable to her the next step would be to invite her to shoot at a later date and eventually maybe you will have her actually looking forward to your visits.

Hostile Amish
May 4, 2009, 09:09 AM
Buy a suppresor.

May 4, 2009, 09:54 AM
Planting more trees between your properties could help cut down the noise somewhat. Maybe even just building a short wall at the side of your shooting position to reflect some of the noise away from her.

May 4, 2009, 10:12 AM
I agree with the build a better backstop,move it further,call her first,bend over back wards crowd to an extent.You are after all [we all should be] an ambassador for the shooting sports.I would even invite her for a .22 plinkin' session.That said,I would NOT stop.

May 4, 2009, 10:41 AM

I'm kind of familiar with your range setup, and it sounds safe to me - and most importantly, the Sheriff thinks it's fine too or he would have stopped and talked to you about it.

That being said, I think that this lady calling the Sheriff is a very Hostile act. I mean, she is hoping that another "Man with a Gun" will make you stop what you are doing. Likewise, I am surprised that she had the gall to enter your property after having been so hostile in the past. Consequently, I would re-consider even alowing that woman on your property lest she accuse YOU of somehow threatening her while she was there.

Remember...she's told the police that you have been "threatening" in the past, so don't doubt she'll do it again.

Keep her away. Far away.

May 4, 2009, 12:03 PM
In 1962 and before they were an everyday, accepted, commonplace part of life...

In 1962 most kids had Daddies (and families and neighbors and teachers) who taught them things about responsibility. If you heard gunfire, odds were someone wasn't doing something stupid. Not so anymore... The unparented progeny of today should make everyone nervous on oh-so-many levels.


May 4, 2009, 12:07 PM
Get a supressor, invite the neighbor shooting, and set up a better backstop.

May 4, 2009, 12:49 PM
I second the advice on getting a silencer. While they can be expensive, they can be cheaply made, although you still need to pay the $200 tax.


May 4, 2009, 01:23 PM
Does it really "silence", or just reduce the report? I've heard them referred to more often as "suppressors".


May 4, 2009, 01:41 PM
Does it really "silence", or just reduce the report? I've heard them referred to more often as "suppressors".

They just reduce the report, If you want something actually silent I think you would have to get a .22 that's suppressed and be shooting sub sonic ammo. Don't quote be on that, I've never even shot a suppressed gun.

+1 On build a better backstop.
Doesn't matter how many acres you have, its the quality of your backstop. Like a big dirt berm.

General Geoff
May 4, 2009, 01:53 PM
Does it really "silence", or just reduce the report? I've heard them referred to more often as "suppressors".

Depends on if you're referring to a regular suppressed weapon, or a De Lisle Carbine. :)

Suppressor and silencer are interchangeable terms; the name Silencer has been used since the early 1900s, so it's just as correct.

May 4, 2009, 02:02 PM
The word silencer as a term used for gun mufflers was coined by Maxim over 100 years ago when he marketed his sound suppressors. It is also a legal term used by the US government to describe suppressors.

While silencers do not make a gun silent, they usually reduce muzzle noise by 20-30 decibels. Decibels are a logarithmic scale measurement of noise, 20-30 decibels is a 100 to 1000 times change in noise level.

Anything that lowers noise that amount is well worth having on a gun even if it does nothing for action noise and the whip like sonic boom of high speed bullets. Muzzle blast is by far the loudest component of firearm noise. Check out http://www.silencertests.com for good info on making and buying silencers.


May 4, 2009, 02:29 PM
When your paranoid neighbor finds out you're using a silencer she'll think you're a Mafia hitman!:D
Then instead of the Sheriff you'll have the FBI showing up on your doorstep.

Claude Clay
May 4, 2009, 02:33 PM
you getting a silencer is a good one except that you say you make 'noise' with many different guns so that aint practical.
so instead, find out when her birthday is and get her a muffler:rolleyes:
since she is a tree hugger get one for a Saab

May 4, 2009, 02:41 PM
silencers will reduce a 22 lr to a very low sound and the maxim did that I fired one many yrs ago.and have watched them at the MG shoots.more noise from the bolt than the cartridge.
call here and invite her to WATCH you shoot.give her a set of earmuffs to use.dont invite her to shoot unless she specificly asks. you have already said you shoot towards a empty space.I shoot towards I 95 a mile away.trees in between.you dont need a silencer.a fench to your right 6' tall for 10 ft should take care of a lot.
I had a woman call about shooting and the deputy came down we showed him the target area.and he was satisfied.never seen them since.think it was the AK,here it could be a killing as the blacks could care less whether they kill some one.and yes its the liberals and the males making kids they dont want to support.:rolleyes::uhoh::eek:

May 4, 2009, 03:09 PM
Shoot in a direction away from the neighbor, into an area that doesn't echo. Ideally with something like your house between you and her.

It is human nature to be startled by gunfire. Having the talk with her may allieviate her fear if she trusts that you have heard her concerns.

May 4, 2009, 03:17 PM
I'm all for safety first so I would first make certain that I had a high backstop. I would hate to think what will happen to your mom's place if you do shoot someone by mistake.

May 4, 2009, 03:55 PM
in az we can not shoot w/i a 1/4 mile of an occupied building. all building are to be assumed occupied.

May 4, 2009, 06:50 PM
i disagree with the assesment that he needs to change his backstop. I think the neighbor would of complained about the backstop regardless of what it was. Being that she knows nothing about firearms, it could have been the greatest backstop known to man and she would have still complained about it. I think changing it now would lead her to believe that her assumptions about it were right (as well as any other assumptions she may have). Of course if the op believes it to be unsafe is a different matter all together.

With that being said i do like the idea of notifing her that you are shooting before doing so, would be a good idea if she is open to the idea and believes it to be a good gesture. Check with the local sheriff and make sure you are completely in your rights to shoot in that yard. Perhaps everytime she calls, you are done by the time the sheriff gets there. Now giving her notice may allow them to catch you in the act. Again this is only if you are actually breaking a local ordinance.

Ned Kelly
May 4, 2009, 07:42 PM
Maybe show the woman where your backstop is and the direction you will be shooting in. Which will probably be the only direction you can shoot in anymore.

I hate it myself. As a kid there weren't so many people around. We would shoot our guns in the air and not worry so much about what was beyond what we were shooting at.

Now that Suburbia has trickled into the landscape each shot must be planned and considered.

A couple of years ago a woman noticed a small bloody spot on her little boys scalp. She noticed a shiny object protruding out of the skin. They dug out the projectile of a .17 HMR out of his head.

It was found out that the bullet likely came from a rifle a man had fired that day over a mile or 2 away. Apparently he shot at something high in a tree or in the air and the bullet on its way down had enough energy to cause an air rifle type injury.

In a way I was glad the housing bubble popped. Houses were springing up so fast where I live it was getting scary. I lost a lot of good hunting and shooting spots.

May 4, 2009, 10:36 PM
I'm sort of responding to the last three posts. On ten acres, it's hard to get 1/4 mile away from anything. Shooting on a schedule, say every Saturday at 2:00pm may allow the nervous neighbor to expect it and therefore get used to it. Lastly the backstop... A big woodpile, backed-up by "trees and stumps", is not a backstop. I wouldn't trust it, and I'm not surprised the neighbor doesn't trust it either. I think it needs improvement with lots of dirt, and that may help the neighbor feel better. It would bolster my confidence in a shooting neighbor for sure.

Uhh... and I really want to get a .17 HMR for groundhogs. What's the tits?


Defense Minister
May 4, 2009, 11:04 PM
I'm sure you are going about safety the right way, it's just that she doesn't know that. Invite her over for lunch and let her watch how and where you shoot. Offer to let her fire the .22, and maybe we'll all gain a friend for the cause.

Kind of Blued
May 5, 2009, 02:54 AM
The answer is NOT to buy her earplugs and tell her to get over it. This may solve the problem, but it won't do much good beyond that.

Invite her to shoot. Break out the .22s, and show her your backstop. I might even invest some manhours and funds in increasing the safety and integrity of the backstop. You have to understand that when bullets ricochet, they go any way but the direction they were heading, including straight back at you. There's no such thing as a "safe" or "typical" ricochet. If you ever see footage of a night time machine gun shoot with tracer rounds, you'll get what I'm saying.

Don't alienate her, even if she is a minority living out in the wide open areas where you live. We need the irrational fear of firearms diminished at every opportunity we can get, and this is a fine one.

May 5, 2009, 03:40 AM
I'd say call every time your going to shoot, so she know's when your shooting.

May 5, 2009, 04:30 AM
I think this could be a matter of trust. The media has made us all afraid of one another.

We used to trust our neighbors because we knew them.

It can also be that you are shooting at a time when she has her mother over and it sounds like a war zone which can be embarrassing.

A cup of coffee and a truck load of sand might be on my agenda.

That and I wouldn't want that wood in a fireplace....

May 5, 2009, 07:25 AM
Very calmly look straight into her eyes and say "if you want all those zombies on your property that's fine, but I don't want them on mine". Just kidding. Ask her if you could give her a call to let her know when you are going to shoot or see if maybe sometime she could come over and shoot with you. If you are a hunter see if she would like some meat after your next harvest. and you can explain to her that I am just keeping in practice.:D

May 5, 2009, 07:59 AM
First, based upon what you described as your property situation and backstop, you really do need to construct a better backstop. What you are describing is really a little shakey to me.

Warning: Unpopular opinion incoming...

I know the kind of neighbor you are referring to.

While I applaud those that immediately have "Take them shooting" as an answer for everything, this is not a "Catch-All" answer.

There are simply people that do not want to shoot. Likewise, there are people that I have no desire to have anywhere on my property or handling any of my property.

A real good barometer of that is if that person has:

A.) Ever come banging on my door making demands the way you described.

B.) Ever CALLED THE POLICE... especially several times.

I see a person who wants to get their way-- the law be damned. As I see it, the instant the LEO's told her that you were in your rights and it was "safe," there should not have been another call regarding that. Any more calls seems to be a strong-arm attempt at harassment.

This is NOT a person you are going to be "friends" with (or at least I won't be.)

Moreover, I am not about to invite a person onto my property that has a beef with me. That opens me up to a whole new world of potential liability. I do not trust this person NOT to decide that if they can't make you stop, they will ruin you with an injury lawsuit-- thereby forcing you to sell and move.

I have a few hundred acres of woodlands. Routinely, we have people attempting to come in uninvited. I have seen with my own eyes what some people are capable of.

One of our landowner neighbors had someone sneek onto their land during a party. She was driving her car while drunk. Naturally, she ran into the ditch and got stuck. She got another drunk friend to pull her car out of the ditch with his truck-- in the process, they broke her axle.

That next Monday, she sued the LANDOWNER for damages to her car!!!

Sure, it went nowhere, but the landowner had to hire a lawyer to deal with the mess.

Consider what you open yourself up for if you go the "take her shooting" route.

Me? Sometimes you have to realize that not everyone is going to like you, and not everyone is going to be accepting of your interests-- ESPECIALLY a person used to dictating their desires to others and accenting it with calls to LEO's.

Some people may try to paint all this as me being an "Internet Commando" or otherwise being short-sighted. To those people, I say only this: YOU haven't had to pay for my liability umbrella insurance policy for the last 15 years. It is people like this that cost me money every year.

-- John

May 5, 2009, 11:48 AM
I would invite the neighbor over for a lunch off the grill and some target practice.

May 5, 2009, 12:28 PM
After finding out about her discomfort.... I would call to forwarn her before shooting, but my firing sessions would be twice as long.

That is awesome!

May 5, 2009, 07:22 PM
Lets think about this a bit. One of my neighbor's, and I have had many problems over the years. He and his clan are into four wheelers {the guys a mama's boy which is a big part of the problem}. There used to be a gang of them running around his front yard almost all of the time.
I would have gladly ignored this, but it was VERY loud. I have about ten acre's as well, but still it was a miserible experience to do anything out doors, which was my reason for moving to the country for the peace and quite.
I want to enjoy my property, but if my enjoyment make some of my neighbors have less enjoyment of their property then I feel I need to do something about it.
For example, even though your neighbor has a right to enjoy their property would it be right for them to build a pig pen or chicken house on their property? Yep, they could, but that doesnt mean they should. Face it you cant ignore chicken ****, or pig **** for long.
Same thing about shooting guns. They are loud. I would try to build a fence behind where you stand to shoot as well as think about supressors.
I also have started shooting in my back yard, but I have went to all of my close neighbors, and asked if it would bother them and if it did then was there a time/day I could shoot when they werent at home, etc.
I also brought various fruit to bribe them with...lol. It worked, they all said "no problem".
However, I wont exploit their good nature by shooting all of the time. Usually I shoot once a week during the day and only for about an hour {cost too much for ammo to shoot any more than that}.
Anyway, that JMO........Buddy.

May 5, 2009, 08:14 PM
Of course you shouldn't let her cow you into giving up shooting on your own land, but she is your neighbor and it's never a good idea to upset them. You do have to live next door to her, after all. Do you really want that kind of a headache?

I'd just simply ask her what would allay her fears (short of giving up shooting). Better backstop? Move the range farther away? Different direction of fire? Soundproofing? If it's not too unreasonable, then do it for the sake of peace in the neighborhood.

May 5, 2009, 08:19 PM
What I'd give to be able to shoot in my backyard.

Ned Kelly
May 5, 2009, 08:20 PM
Once I turned a thick piece of wood on its side that was more than a foot thick. I backed that up with a quarter inch peice of steel. Thought it would stop a .308. It went through all of it without a hitch.

Sand and dirt make the best backstop material.

When things really get complicated a bullet trap may be necessary over just a simple berm.

What I'd give to be able to shoot in my backyard.

I do but I use CB long 22s and shoot them into a an oil drum turned on its side filled with sand.

May 5, 2009, 10:47 PM
Yes there is better backstop material but I feel what I have is more than enough. Also i'm not shooting any rifles other then .22, it's all handguns. The sks was a one time deal years ago. The funny part is she thinks all gunfire out there is from me. Most of the neighbors for miles are shooting from time to time.

May 6, 2009, 01:17 AM
Quit shooting for a week or two. During the same time leave some fake "Bear Tracks" around the property and tufts of fur on the fence. Call and tell her once or twice that you've seen a 12 foot grissly.
Then, middle of the night, let loose with a 12 gauge a few times and run outside in your boxers to let her know you ran the bear off her yard...

'Course if you live in Arizona that would sound kind of stupid...
In California they'd protect the bear and make both of you relocate to give it habitat...
And in North Carolina the mountain boys would already have eaten the bear and started moonshinin in your back yard.

Seriously, one phone call about a rabid skunk nearby and she'll be beggin you to come out gunnin.

May 6, 2009, 12:17 PM
Repeat after me:

Trees are not a safe backstop.

Trees are not a safe backstop.

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