Rubber Mulch for Shooting range?


March 31, 2011, 06:04 PM
Mods- if there is a better forum for this question, please move at will.

My soon-to-be father in law build a range at his house. Nicely done overall. He dug into a low rise, piling the dirt at the back resulting in a berm about 10 feet tall. He then lined the sides of the trench with decking boards and we muscled in some ~12 inch diameter logs to to retain the near-vertical berm. The result was an 8 foot wide lane from ground level at the front to ~7 deep 25 feet back at the berm/backstop. Hopefully I've decribed it well enough to give you a mental picture.

This hole in the ground now needed something to keep it from being a huge mud pit. I lobbied, put in my thoughts, but lost. The "floor" is currently covered in gravel. I was thinking about laying rubber mulch on top of the gravel, extending 8 feet or so forward from the backstop. I was curious if any of you had any thoughts on or experience with doing something similar. What would you think for a minimum thickness to be effective? Let's say "all" (no .50 BMG) calibers since other folks in his neiborhood use the range as well and I couldn't/shouldn't guess what may show up. I'd like to be able to chase plinker targets around on the ground, so I want someithing that is "100% ricochet proof."

I hope I'll be able to convince him to let me add some vertical baffles along the sides and horizonal ones along the top edge of the walls. The MIL is quite the green thumb and I'm sure I can steer her towards some dense evergreen plantings along the edges to further mitigate chances of ricochets leaving the range.

Any thoughts or tips are appreciated.

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March 31, 2011, 06:14 PM
about 2ft of ground rubber is pretty typical at indoor ranges.

March 31, 2011, 08:51 PM
I would avoid rubber, One round of API or some tracers and you are going to have a tire fire on your hands. If anything I would use sand.

April 1, 2011, 12:17 PM
For our on edification can we see some pictures?

I might suggest look into area footing for horses. Folks I know around these parts that built an area to ride in started with a clay base and then layered sand on top. Many mixed in hardwood mulch and flake shavings for a "spongier" feel. The sand would reduce the chances for fire.

In the case of the riding arenas it can get pretty dusty with all the sand kicking up so some of the nicer places have overhead sprinklers to wet the sand down before the ride. Maybe a couple of sprinklers would help.

Sand over gravel wouldn't be a bad idea. It would help with drainage and reduce richochets. If you added mulch you could abate fire hazards with a couple of impact sprinklers.

You have some great ideas. I agree with lining the sides of the range with trees to reduce noise. Try some Eastern Red Cedar, they grow densely and would make great baffles. I'm hoping to put a range up at my place too. Sounds like you're on the right track!

April 1, 2011, 12:27 PM
I'm always jealous when I hear about back yard ranges, I'd love to see pictures.

April 1, 2011, 12:35 PM
Thanks for the reponses guys.

I'll try to get a few pics the next time I'm out there-hopefully this weekend. I searched and searched for a pic of something comparable on the web and came up dry.

I don't think we need to worry about API or tracer rounds. While there is one Federal Marshal that shoots there, this is more of a plinking range than a tactical training center. Fire concerns are way, way down on the list.

Sand may well be a much cheaper option. That rubber mulch ain't cheap.

I'll look at the Eastern Red Cedars. So far I was just thinking cheap Arborvitae, but it's really shaded down there in the summer.

April 1, 2011, 01:03 PM
gravel bad anywhere near where a bullet could strike and ricochet

rubber mulch is good if no incendiary rounds are used

sand is good and avoids any fire issue

April 1, 2011, 01:15 PM
FWIW, "evergreen plantings" will look nice but probably won't stop a ricochet.

If you want to do that, you'll need a chevron of heavy logs* and/or dirt protruding towards the firing line.

*railroad timbers, old telephone poles, 8"+ cured cedar logs (what ranchers would use for a corner post).

If you do go with rubber, call around to tire recycling centers. You might be able to buy the scrap rubber, stripped of the steel belts, cheaper than from a landscaping place. The difference is the mulch will be treated with something to keep the rubber from discoloring and getting on clothes. It's important for a playscape with Lil' Johnnie --- not so important for a gun range.


April 1, 2011, 01:34 PM
Sand. Rubber and heat= fire.

April 1, 2011, 02:05 PM
A local indoor range has used rubber shreds for the backstop for years with no issue. Caveat - it's handgun and shotgun only.

April 2, 2011, 10:43 AM
A local indoor range has used rubber shreds for the backstop for years with no issue.
Our indoor club range use the same system, held in place with sheets of rubber conveyor belt material. It's an extremely safe system that also keeps lead levels FAR below a normal backstop system.

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