Placement of Steel Targets


April 1, 2012, 07:34 AM
Hey there,
Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I have about 100-125 yds of space in my backyard to shoot. The problem is that the land is flat for about 75 yds. and then slopes upward for the remainder. It makes for a good backstop.

I would like to place some sort of steel target at the end of that 100yds and the target would basically end up being on a hill.

My question is that since most steel targets are angle downward, will the impact from what I shoot increase my chances of a ricochet vs. shooting on perfectly flat land.

If I shoot a swinging type target, would that matter? If I shoot a pepper popper type, would that matter?

Thanks for your help.


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April 1, 2012, 08:02 AM
Ricochets are not predictable in any way. Build a boxed or three sided trap around your steel targets and reverse your field of fire to where you are firing down the hill. This is just my opinion.

April 1, 2012, 08:26 AM
Have an excavator cut into the slope so you have a level firing lane out to 100 to 110 yards. Perfect bullet trap.

M2 Carbine
April 1, 2012, 11:40 AM
The problem is that the land is flat for about 75 yds. and then slopes upward for the remainder. It makes for a good backstop.

Sloping ground does not make for a good backstop. Bullets hitting the ground at a low angle can skip off and go quite a distance.

I've had a couple ranges on my ground since the late 1960's.
Think of it this way. You are totally responsible to assure that no bullet leaves your property. Bullets can travel a mile or two, or more. So unless you own all the ground around for several miles you had best construct a good bullet stop, like a dirt berm.

I shoot at steel a lot. The steel will stop the bullets 100% but still a good backstop behind the steel is necessary.

April 2, 2012, 07:14 AM
M2 Carbine, I keep admiring your range every time I see the pics. And your shooting :)

M2 Carbine
April 2, 2012, 09:37 AM
M2 Carbine, I keep admiring your range every time I see the pics. And your shooting

I was a rather poor city kid.
I said someday I'll have enough land so I can shoot guns and land airplanes on my own place.
I made it.:D

Chuck R.
April 2, 2012, 08:02 PM
Here’s my setup. I basically own 80 acres and shoot from hill to hill. I dug into one hillside to build a backstop, then graveled in a 30x30 meter area to use as my pistol range:

The backstop/pistol range sits on the end of my 9 acre pond dam which I graveled the top to form road/shoot lane. At the end I put in a bench which gives me 25-220 meters depending on where I stick my target stand. I graveled in around the bench to make a prone shooting position.

Next I put another smaller berm in part way up my hill and put up a swinger. This gives me 300 from my bench/prone position, 400 from the top of my hill, and 500 from the edge of my property.

I would focus on building your backstop, in my case I dug into the hill which gives me a pretty decent one. Even up on my midway berm, which I again cut into the hill has another 20ft of elevation rise behind it. I wouldn’t count on the steel stopping anything because you just might miss or ricochet one of the edge.


M2 Carbine
April 2, 2012, 10:46 PM
Very nice setup.:)

April 2, 2012, 11:37 PM
OP-Without moving dirt I think you're going to find it hard to set up anything and be comfortable with being able to contain bullets. I agree that hiring a excavator to dig out a trench to use as the backstop is the best way....assuming you can do such things....if not might be time to get creative.

Chuck R-I'm a bit jealous....but you're pictures remind me that I'm at least not crazy(or I am crazy but I'm not alone!) on my goals for my personal range.

Currently backstop is roughly 60' wide(not tall enough) and it's been dug out/smoothed roughly 12-15 yds back. As I get time I fire up the tractor and dig it out farther back/smooth out more. Eventually I'd like to gravel it but that probably won't happen as I don't think I'll live her long enough to make it worth it.

Using the dirt pushed up from the pistol range I have a roughly ~150 yd rifle range and can shoot off concrete(old grain bin pad). Lots of work to still do on that backstop berm to get happier with it but it easily stops 5.56 and there is a hill behind it in addition but I'm still not thrilled with it...probably going to do some scouting of different firing angles before I put too much work in on the rifle side.

April 3, 2012, 02:57 AM
My club's pistol range has an angled backstop. Up the hill and to one side behind a berm is where we also shoot CAS events. Due to ground skips and the angled end of the rather loose fine gravel nature of the berm on the lower level pistol range we get a LOT of ricochets off the ground, berm and then overhead above the cowboy pits. The odd bullet hits a bigger tree branch and falls to the ground reasonably harmlessly. But it's not a bad idea to be wearing a stetson as a hard hat.... :D

So all in all I'd certainly agree with those that say a gradual rise is worse than simply flat land. It would be worth getting a loader in there and push back and pile a section of that gradual slope into a definite backstop berm for as much width as you think you want. By the sounds of it by the time you extend the level area into the slope and pile up a 12 to 15 foot berm you'll have your 100 yards and it'll be a lot bigger safety net to shoot at.

And for the record I'm highly envious of you having the land to build your own range.... :D

April 3, 2012, 07:58 AM
If I read you right....sounds like your hill is more of a nice easy slope that goes up and you can't see what is behind you.....don't be tricked just because you can't see what is behind you. Bullets will bounce off that slope and go who knows where.

I would suggest cutting into the hill, and a machine as small as a skid loader might do the job for need a few feet of dirt behind impact.

What I did with my home range is I used RR ties behind the dirt and shoot into that. 2 ties thick and IIRC 7-8 ties high....all tied together...then dirt infront of those.

Building a safe range takes time....but in the end it is well worth it....I worked all my life for my stuff....I would like to keep it. M2's comments are spot them twice.

Chuck R.
April 3, 2012, 09:28 AM
Guys, thanks for the compliments, you all know like any do it yourself project; it’s been a work in progress! Unfortunately I’ve got more ideas than time & money, my wife helps out by keeping my “good ideas” in check.

Can’t stress enough what M2 and fpgt72 are saying. I technically own every round that’s fired on my range, they’ve got to stay on my property or I risk losing everything. In the very least, my range would be shut down should a “minor” incident happen. I used Google Earth to verify that there’s no structure behind my impact area for a few miles, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.

I used a “tracked” skid steer to cut into my hill to build the berm, total time for earth moving was about 4hrs. Spreading gravel etc was done with my tractor in about an afternoon. IF you can’t do the earthwork yourself, figure about $125 an hour to have it done. The backstop is the least “sexiest” part of the range, but it’s the most important.

Another consideration is your neighbors. Legally I can do whatever I want, shoot whenever I want on my property. I’m still respectful of my neighbors, by only shooting a couple times a week, and at decent hours. I don’t think that anybody wants to live right next to a range, even if they are avid shooters.

Be sure to check your zoning, here in Leavenworth, anything that has a commercial implication, or “club” use requires a “Special Use Permit” from the County. That requires an “Environmental Impact Study” and additional insurance/fees. So I’m very careful not to have money change hands, formal training classes or anything that might be construed as a “club”.


April 3, 2012, 01:07 PM
On the noise issue if you can build up even some lower side and back berms for cheap you'd be surprised at how well it focuses the sound up instead of out towards the neighbours. Or even a three sided structure with roof. It'll work to keep you cooler in the summer, drier if it rains and greatly aids in containing and focusing the noise downrange. Of course it means you'll hear a little more than before so you'll want to be sure you're using adequite hearing protection. But as you say, it makes for better neighbour relationships.

April 3, 2012, 01:45 PM
Wouldn't the type of bullet you use affect the propensity for ricochet? If so why not use a bullet that is "destroyed" on impact if you are concerned about ricochet?
This is a legitimate question. Not trying to disagree with anything that has been said. Really will appreciate some comments.

April 3, 2012, 08:08 PM
Jim, such bullets either may not be available in calibers that the OP or others want to shoot or they may cost a lot more. Thus adding to the costs of shooting.

Also the piece still go SOMEWHERE. Nope, the best way is to have a relatively vertical wall of soft dirt or some other backstop you know will collect and hold the bullets. And then to ensure that everyone shooting practices proper trigger discipline so that the guns are all pointed at the berm via targets before the booger picker touches steel or plastic.

April 3, 2012, 08:15 PM
Thanks BC. I have a 220 yd + range on my property which is backed up by very high creek banks. Then corn and bean fields for as far as any bullet will go. Nonetheless, every time I squeeze the trigger I do think about the possibilities.

April 3, 2012, 08:38 PM
The "best backstop in the world" would be a 30' X 30' section of the side plating of an Astoria class cruiser ! Obviously most of us can't obtain - let alone transport/install - the ilk ! But on a more practical level any of a variety of "attenuating/deforming" materials will suffice for most of us, particularly if you're going to be using steel targets !

"How to create a berm" ? Depends upon your pocketbook and trading skills ! A dozen tri-axle loads of dirt dumped strategically will go a long way to creating one ! Some "sculpting" with a track hoe will do a lot more ! Some intelligent work with a backhoe/loader combo in the impact area will forestall any future contretempts about lead, as well. But never forget not to let the size of your pocketbook dictate your solutions ! Smaller - and more affordable - machines only take longer and burn a bit more fuel in the process ! Hell, even a mule and a "fresno" will accomplish what you want, provided you have a desire to be a "mule skinner" ! >MW

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