Wood pile backstop.


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Cluster Bomb
December 28, 2011, 09:05 AM
The wife and I want to make a backstop for our backyard shooting.

there is about 90-150 acres behind the house that no one lives on, just trees and terrain. The fater in law own 60 acres behind us and to the left is a bog then more trees.. the farmer we are friends with has the rest and 10 acres to the right is some fields. so we are in the middle from trees and a bog and trees and field. hope that paints an idea of the location....lol


we shoot on our property into the farmers. Wife wants the back stop made of trees that I have cut. Birch, Ash, Spruce, Pine etc.

what is the safest way to do it with logs? what are the saftey +/-?

we mainly shoot pistols, shotguns, and on occasion hunting rifles (rifles will be rare as I currently dont have one)

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Seanpcola
December 28, 2011, 09:26 AM
Sounds very close to my setup and the same question I asked on here about a month ago.

Answer from the experienced crew on here is that wood alone does not make a good backstop. Risk of ricochet. Their suggestion, and what I am in the process of doing, is front filling the wood pile with dirt.

Here's the thread I started and replies:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=629738

Oh, forgot to add needing the permission of surrounding property owners and taking into consideration your responsibility of all shots fired. It's all in that link.

Snowbandit
December 28, 2011, 09:30 AM
Using a wood pile to stop bullets is effective for about 99.99% of your shooting. It's that nasty small percentage that always worries me. Now, having said that, I'll admit to often using a large wood pile myself. The difference here is that my closest neighbor is a mile away and there is a large hill in the corn/bean field between us. No way I would be shooting into my wood pile if there was anyone in the field on this side of the hill though.

Ghost Tracker
December 28, 2011, 09:46 AM
Now long are your cut trees? Bury the cut trees horizontally to half (5-6'?) their height creating a wall. Pile dirt against the wall. Shoot into the dirt.

conw
December 28, 2011, 03:23 PM
Is the land absolutely flat? If you have even a slightly sloping grade anywhere, it may (can't say for sure of course) be enough to work, if you can set up some target stands where it begins to slope. If you stand on the flat and shoot the targets on the flat, with the grade just behind the targets, that should give you a "danger zone" behind the targets of no more than 10-30 feet.

kragluver
December 28, 2011, 06:39 PM
I have personal experience - and a fortunate one at that - of rounds ricocheting off of wood. I once had a .357 round ricochet off the cut end of an oak log, coming back towards me at about a 45 deg angle. It struck a propane tank but did not penetrate. I learned my lesson about wood. As others have suggested - just use the wood to support the dirt. Dirt filled tires also make an excellent backstop.

Fred Fuller
December 28, 2011, 08:31 PM
Not really a topic for ST&T... moved to General.

essayons21
December 28, 2011, 08:59 PM
As others have said, fill it with dirt. Especially with some of the hardwoods. I have been hit with .45 ACP ricochets from shooting into some hardwood stumps. Hurt, and I'd hate to think what would happen when shooting rifles.

TXSWFAN
December 28, 2011, 10:21 PM
I pushed up some top dirt (silt at my place:() about four feet tall and five feet thick. I used four 6' t-posts set on the back of the dirt mound to hold the eight- 8" diameter post oak logs I bucked off my place. Then I stacked up railroad ties between the mound and the oak logs and more RR ties at a 45 to catch jackets and what not.

The RR tie itself will stop a hot 10mm. The hottest I've shot is .308 and the dirt stops it.

http://i42.tinypic.com/25i2gyb.jpg

I'm envious of y'alls place in Maine. It sounds incredible.

kludge
December 28, 2011, 11:39 PM
My 30 caliber rifles will go completely though 10-12" logs. I haven't tried bigger logs, so I don't know what the limit is.

As others have said. Dirt.

malpaismike
December 29, 2011, 02:16 AM
Hello the camp! Having grown up in the Phx area, I feel the pain of those upon whom progress has snuck up and soiled their messkit. Places I took my boys to shoot 20 yr ago are planted in houses--spoken as one who shot against the canal berm back in '02 in N Scottsdale; I hunted pigeons and doves behind Tovrea's at 48th and VanBuren--now central Phx.
I have a 4-ac 'ranch' in southern AZ now; my current scheme is 2 40ft conex's. 25 yd is plenty to famfire/initial sight most anything. It is way more than nominal cas target ranges.
I figure it at about $6k--3 for conex, bal for foundation and furring out. Saw a video for a bullet trap under 1k. Cuts out the need for a lot of dunnage and dirt.
There are still a few cutbanks I know of; that said, there are a lot of unsavorys floating around in S'AZ to make the trip to the range ~15 mi away not a biggie. My .02. mm

Sav .250
December 29, 2011, 07:51 AM
I think you need to re-think your plan. Plus, hope you have insurance that covers your back yard gun range just in case something bad happens. J s/n.

we are not amused
December 29, 2011, 10:40 AM
I agree that using dirt piled up against the trees is a good idea, but depending upon the terrain, may be unnecessary. If the terrain is slightly hilly, you may be able to use a hill as a back stop.

Some of the above statements don't make a lot of sense. I don't believe a .45 acp is going to ricochet back at a 45 degree angle after striking wood. It was probably a wood chip, or possibly a fragment of the bullet jacket, but not the majority of the round. People who shoot at steel plates can have ricochets come almost straight back at them due to the recoil of the plate, but such ricochets are of low speed unlikely to cause serious injury provided one is wearing eye protection, and again consist of mostly bullet fragments.

On my modest 250 acres of land, I have a mix of terrain, including a large creek with steep and deep banks, which me and my brothers use for causal shooting.


My favorite shooting range is in my 80 acre pasture. I pistol and rifle shoot in the draw running through the middle of it out to a range of about 100 yards.

For really long range shooting, I can shoot diagonally from corner to corner of the pasture, well over 3000 yards. (and no, I can't hit anything at that range, it is just how far I can shoot if I could) The terrain allows me to shoot in a slightly downhill direction with a hill rising behind my target at any distance I set. All of this without the need of any artificial backstop. I only have to worry about the cows.


Assuming, that your terrain is flat, simply use the trees to support an embankment of soil, or skip the trees, and simply mound up some dirt, it need not be terribly high, 3 or 4 feet and 6 to 8 feet wide, would be plenty, especially if the terrain behind it was empty. Some people might say that is larger than necessary. Simply keep your point of aim below well below the top of the berm. If I was in a more urban setting, I would recommend a higher and wider dirt berm, but it sounds like you live in a pretty rural setting.
I have noticed on other discussions of shooting ranges on this site, extravagant claims of unlikely ricochets and claims that the minimum backstop requirements involve heavy construction equipment and a civil engineering degree. While I agree that one must be safe, the extremes some people believe necessary are sometimes ridiculous.

Every situation is different, and if you are surrounded by houses or have an area directly behind where you want to shoot that is frequently occupied, or if you can't visually tell is occupied, I would opt for a larger backstop, but if the area behind your proposed range is infrequently occupied, (farm field) and you can visually confirm it is unoccupied, a smaller backstop would suffice.

Common sense should prevail.

AK103K
December 29, 2011, 06:34 PM
What ever you do, dont take the logs to the saw mill when youre done. ;)

We shot into a pile of logs my buddys father in law had piled up at the end of his yard. Worked fine. A couple of months later, he took them to the mill. They were not real happy with him and told him they didnt need his business anymore. Apparently, the bullets in the wood tore up some of their equipment.

We also used to shoot out pistol caliber SMG's in my other buddys basement. The backstop was a couple of staggered rows of 2', 12"+ cut logs standing on end. They had a lot of rounds in them and we never had anything come out of them.

Another word of warning, dont shoot a 1919 inside on a concrete floor without sandbagging the tripod. Backstops only work if the bullets hit them. Cinder block walls wont even slow down a .30 bullet. When it rains hard, lots of water comes in through .30 caliber holes. Oh yea, dont shoot under florescent tubes either. :)

Deltaboy
December 29, 2011, 06:40 PM
Dirt or Sand piled infront of the logs.

The Lone Haranguer
December 30, 2011, 01:26 PM
A straight-up wood pile, without any dirt in front of it, covering it or in it, doesn't sound like a very good backstop. Bullets may ricochet or even slip through openings. If a bullet emerges from the other side, there is no telling which way it will go.

Cluster Bomb
January 8, 2012, 07:31 PM
thanks for the info. Construction is under way. working on a pulley system, and sand bags behind logs.

WALKERs210
January 9, 2012, 08:24 PM
I have been giving a lot of thought to doing something on the same line for shooting here at home. Right now all I have to do is walk out back about 300 ft and let rip, but every once in a blue moon some kid or adult will come trekking out of the woods with no idea where they came from. I have always believed in over engineering anything to be sure, cause I don't want to hurt anyone or anything except for a paper target. Few days ago I saw something on the military channel where a container(for lack of better term) was unfolded and then tons of sand was loaded in. From what I understood they said it would stop a big truck from breaking thru and provided protection from shrapnel. I have tarp material that is made to allow air flow while covering items like sod, trees during shipment, and I was thinking of sewing these to make containers around 15-20 ft long, around 6 ft tall and around 8 ft thick and fill it with fill dirt. Then back the thing up with rail road ties. As of right now the biggest round fired here is 7.62 x 54R or 30-06, but if I know my sons and nephews one will show up with a cannon.

sugarmaker
January 10, 2012, 05:35 PM
One thing to keep in mind with any backstop is it'll collect lead. If it's a sloped sandpile it'll work until it gets bony with lead and / or the slope gets gradual, then rounds will start to ricochet and go to points yonder. Gravel or fill will do the same off the small rocks they contain. Wood will collect lead and, if you're a good shot, you will be surprised how quickly it breaks down and you also start shooting into old rounds stuck in the wood and you get a ricochet. Not every round but maybe one in 100, which is too much. Gotta stop 'em all, not just most.

My rule: If I wouldn't stand at or beyond my property boundary (or property I have specific permission to use as a backstop area) behind my berm while shooting, it's probably not safe.

browneu
January 10, 2012, 05:39 PM
My brother in law built a back stop out of railroad ties. No sides just a back wall. Doesn't seem very safe but he seems to think it works.

Sent from my LG-P999 using Tapatalk

ErikO
January 10, 2012, 06:06 PM
I agree that using dirt piled up against the trees is a good idea, but depending upon the terrain, may be unnecessary. If the terrain is slightly hilly, you may be able to use a hill as a back stop.

Some of the above statements don't make a lot of sense. I don't believe a .45 acp is going to ricochet back at a 45 degree angle after striking wood. It was probably a wood chip, or possibly a fragment of the bullet jacket, but not the majority of the round. People who shoot at steel plates can have ricochets come almost straight back at them due to the recoil of the plate, but such ricochets are of low speed unlikely to cause serious injury provided one is wearing eye protection, and again consist of mostly bullet fragments.

On my modest 250 acres of land, I have a mix of terrain, including a large creek with steep and deep banks, which me and my brothers use for causal shooting.


My favorite shooting range is in my 80 acre pasture. I pistol and rifle shoot in the draw running through the middle of it out to a range of about 100 yards.

For really long range shooting, I can shoot diagonally from corner to corner of the pasture, well over 3000 yards. (and no, I can't hit anything at that range, it is just how far I can shoot if I could) The terrain allows me to shoot in a slightly downhill direction with a hill rising behind my target at any distance I set. All of this without the need of any artificial backstop. I only have to worry about the cows.


Assuming, that your terrain is flat, simply use the trees to support an embankment of soil, or skip the trees, and simply mound up some dirt, it need not be terribly high, 3 or 4 feet and 6 to 8 feet wide, would be plenty, especially if the terrain behind it was empty. Some people might say that is larger than necessary. Simply keep your point of aim below well below the top of the berm. If I was in a more urban setting, I would recommend a higher and wider dirt berm, but it sounds like you live in a pretty rural setting.
I have noticed on other discussions of shooting ranges on this site, extravagant claims of unlikely ricochets and claims that the minimum backstop requirements involve heavy construction equipment and a civil engineering degree. While I agree that one must be safe, the extremes some people believe necessary are sometimes ridiculous.

Every situation is different, and if you are surrounded by houses or have an area directly behind where you want to shoot that is frequently occupied, or if you can't visually tell is occupied, I would opt for a larger backstop, but if the area behind your proposed range is infrequently occupied, (farm field) and you can visually confirm it is unoccupied, a smaller backstop would suffice.

Common sense should prevail.
Can you adopt me when my Dad passes? :D

You described my ideal property to retire on. I just hope that there's some area like that left when I'm ready to do so.

eye5600
January 12, 2012, 11:46 AM
Wood rots. Even if you had a wood backstop that worked fine today, there is the risk that it would be pretty rotten in a couple years, and you wouldn't notice.

goon
January 12, 2012, 04:55 PM
A range I used to shoot at had a backstop made of railroad ties. Although logs wouldn't be as durable I think they'd still work. I'd build them into a wall and fill in behind them with twice as much dirt as you think you'll need.

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