setting up shooting range?


May 23, 2011, 06:08 PM
There has been some talk in my family of setting up an outdoor shooting range on some farm property we have. The prime location under consideration is backed by an earth berm then a couple of thousand feet of open field to the nearest property line, there are other possible site configurations with varrying amounts of safety range to the property lines, but have varying limitations.

First off I am looking for any general advice you might have on setting this up, assuming a budget of a couple of thousand dollars or so for assorted general shooting interest, shotgun, handgun and rifle.

Second does anyone have a table of effective dangerous ranges for common calibers for purposes of limiting maxiumum caliber, etc. for rounds that may miss the backing berm.

Thanks Ike

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Jim K
May 23, 2011, 07:10 PM
First, make sure what you are planning is legal and not violating any zoning or other regulations. I know some folks who live "way out there" think there are no such laws applying to them, but often that is not true and county or state laws do apply.

Then make sure you have either a good backstop and some way of keeping guns from being pointed high enough to shoot over it. Exactly how far is it to your property line? Depending on the bullet, the maximum range of a .30-'06 can be as much as 5500 yards or 3 miles, a lot more than a "couple of thousand feet." True, that is with the rifle barrel elevated to near a 45 degree angle, but sometimes folks do let a round off as they are bringing a rifle onto the target.

And what is beyond your property line? If it is a public road you need to be aware of laws regarding shooring over, onto or near a public road or right-of-way.

As to a bullet stop, good hard packed dirt is probably the best, and make sure it is kept up or bullets can chew right through it. Obviously, a hillside is the optimum, but that is not always easy to find in flat country.


May 23, 2011, 08:58 PM
Here is a little more information on the overall layout of the property, it is somewhat U shaped with a state highway going across the top of the U. Elevation variation is about 50 feet with one side of the U being bisected by the "ridge line" and the middle of the base of the U being bisected by a valley (think gentle slope). The longest straight line distance (sort of corner to corner) is about 1 mile, but this would not be a practical shooting alignment as there is a house, barns etc in the middle of the property. Longest practical (mostly clear, mostly flat expanse) is down one side of the U which measures about is a tapering retangular area about 4,000 feet long and about 1,000 feet wide at one end and about 1,500 feet wide at the other. Unfortunately the wide end is bounded by the state highway, and the narrow end is bounded by a lightly used unpaved public road. This then gets back to that question of potential flight distances for various types of ammo in case they miss the back stop.


May 23, 2011, 09:43 PM
I have a 40 acre parcel that is square, and has a 3/4 mile of mature planted pines downrange (beyond my property boundry). My range runs down the southern property line and has a berm at 100 and 300 yards. I have a 12' x 20' metal carport with a concrete bench under it. I also have a portable bench that stays at the range.

I have target stands at both berms that are made out of landscape timbers for cardboard target backs. ( I use empty TV boxes for large cardboard)

My berms are 10 feet high and about 20 wide.

My short range target stands are of various construction and are portable for use at different distances.

I have racks of metal spinners and a dozen or so 12 inch wide by 30 inch high steel plates with rebar legs that stick into the ground.

No high velocity rounds can be fired at steel closer than 100 yards, including 22 magnum rimfire.

There is always a designated rangemaster. Eye and ear protection is required without exception, even for non-participants. We like to see open bolts, open cylinders, and locked back slides when not at the firing line. No rounds may be left in any hot chamber regardless of caliber. No alcohol and no music.

If I even think someone fired a high powered rifle over the top of a berm the range shuts down and someone gets asked to leave. Any gun handling mistake is called out immediately, and lots of advice, assistance and training is provided.

Sometimes it's all veteran shooters and sometimes it's newbies, and sometimes it's a mixture of all.

Nobody "sprays".

We've taught dozens to shoot and have been responsible for many, many gun purchases.

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