How much land will I need?


May 28, 2004, 06:56 AM
Ok, so I'm moving to Oregon. I own a home here in CA, and I'm sick of it all. Sick of the gangs, sick of the weather, sick of the recession, sick of the people and the legislature. I want something better for my family.
I am in a position, when I sell my home to do a serious upgrade in terms of land.
How much would I need for a private range for personal use? Any ideas?
I want to be able to go outside and plink up to about 50 yards. I'll build a good berm. How many acres would be sufficient? Neighbors probably won't be a real problem, I'll inform them of my range, and I'm looking for rural areas, anyway. No city ordinances to worry over.
I've looked over home prices online, and found some really sweet deals in good areas. I figure the minimum I'm buying will be about 4.5 acres. I can do that and make a profit of around $100 grand. Will that be enough? How far should my berm backdrop be clear?

Is this even a possibility? Or am I smoking crack? Any of you plink in your yard?

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Highland Ranger
May 28, 2004, 07:13 AM
Government (state, local) ordinances aside - and that's a big aside because you need to check noise, environmental and other ordinances to make sure you can do as you intend, you probably are looking at 50-100 acres to get the job done.

Keep in mind that this will not be enough room to fire anywhere but into a backstop. Even a 22 goes something like 1 1/2 miles so you'll still need to construct something to trap the projectiles.

Bordering up against state land might be an idea as wll.

The NRA has a source book for range design - suggest you invest in it and do things right. I don't have a copy as yet but they may have minimum land requirements in there as well.

General information here:


This has also been discussed here in a number of threads like this one:

Do a search here on acreage . . . . good luck.

May 28, 2004, 07:13 AM
The total land area isn really a personal and monetary thing.My shooting range is only two lots but that is enough for me.It is next to the marina of a lake resort(if you could call it that)and the only one who complains is the drunk who bought it a few years back.Otherwise there is a total of about 12 homes in the rural addition where I live and no one has ever complained.It's not rare to hear the report of a shotgun or pistol in the neighborhood."oh that's just Mike.He's either showing off to a friend or testing out a new acquisition.Damn that boys got a lot of guns,is that a new one?".The town has turkey shoots a couple times a year for different holidays at the local park accross the bridge.So I guess what I'm saying is that "most" country folks don't go ape $ht over hearing gunfire.My backstop is a large mound of dirt,rock and cement that was left in the far corner of the second lot when they finished building the house.They wanted to knock it down and haul it off.I told them not to even think about it,that it was going to be my bullet stop.I got a funny look from the city boys who did the construction.:D

May 28, 2004, 08:34 AM
Heh, out here in semirural tennessee I hear gunshots all the time, i generally just sit back and wonder what's in season or if the dogs are running cattle again.

Now, when the neighbors across the road start playing with dynamite *again*... (seriously. They blow stumps though :)

Brett Bellmore
May 28, 2004, 08:54 AM
How much acreage you need is very dependent on it's shape. Unless, of course, you're a really rotten shot. :D My 16 acres, for instance, is only 160 feet wide at the front, but it's all of half a mile long, with another half mile of somebody else's woods on the other side, and farm fields to the left and right. But I still need a backstop. Exactly 100 m from the rail of my back porch...

May 28, 2004, 09:37 AM
Get a copy of a book by Gene GeRue titled "How to Find Your Ideal Country Home." There are 2-3 editions. I talked to Gene last year and current edition was temporarily out of print while he changed publishers. Rather than go in to a lengthy dissertation about the book, let me just say that it is the most complete and concise primer available on the subjects you're interested in. It is written in layman's terms with a good dose of common sense, practical advice, and a measure of Will Rogers type humor thrown in. I have read everything out there I am aware of and this book is by far the best. I cannot stress enugh that it is worth the effort to find a copy. By the way Gene is a Northern California/San Francisco expatriate who left for the same reasons you cite. He currently lives in the Missouri Ozarks.

May 28, 2004, 09:39 AM
50 yards deep x 10 yards wide is a lil over 1/10 acre. 50 yards square is about 1/2 acre. 250 yards square is about 13 acres. 250 yards x 50 yards is about 2.6 acres. 43,560 square feet per acre.

another okie
May 28, 2004, 09:47 AM
I own 40 acres. The amount of acreage is not all that important. Location is vital. Buying on the edge of a town is a good investment, but a lousy way to be able to shoot. Cities can and do annex land, and you can suddenly find yourself subject to town ordinances. The population is going to continue to grow, so go well out from a town.

Look around and see if the neighborhood looks like people who hunt and shoot live there. (BMWs are a sign you're in the wrong place; four-wheel drive trucks with grill guards and winches are a sign you're in the right place.)

I am able to shoot into the side of a steep hill, and in a direction in which no one lives for about 5 miles. Otherwise rent a bulldozer and put up a backstop. It's sure nice to have a tree screen between where you shoot and the road, both for noise muffling and because people get more agitated when they can see you shooting.

This is a little off-topic, but one of the first things many people do when they move to the country is buy a couple of dogs and let them run loose. Don't do that. Some of us use our land for productive purposes - cattle, gardens, sheep, pigs. Dogs will cause damage and eventually get shot, causing hard feelings all around.

May 28, 2004, 10:17 AM

Good plan. The Pacific Northwest is God's country. Once you move here, as long as you and your family are EX-Californians, you'll fit right in. Too many of the northwest's immigrants from the south bring the California attitude with them ~ but I'm sure you will not. ;)

Dunno about land size. I just wanted to point out for when you start looking at specific places that the Willamette Valley, even the rural parts of it, is the worst place in Oregon for shooting afficionados. If you are able to swing it, both eastern Oregon (avoid Bend itself) and southern Oregon are very gun friendly. The closer you get to Portland, the more likely you are to encounter neighbors who have brought California with them in their minds.

former Californian in the great northwest

Whatever starts in California unfortunately has a tendency to spread. -- Jimmy Carter

Henry Bowman
May 28, 2004, 10:54 AM
What Pax said, and it depends on the terrain. If you have a big hill (or butte or mountain) as a backstop, you don't need nearly as much land as if it's flat for miles. What part of the state?

R.H. Lee
May 28, 2004, 11:37 AM
Why Oregon? Why not Idaho or Montana? AFAIK Oregon is ALMOST as much a socialist paradise as is Californiastan.

Gordon Fink
May 28, 2004, 12:02 PM
Not landlocked (i.e., no continental weather extremes)? Shall-issue CCW permits? No sales tax? Some job opportunities?

That would be my guess. :D

~G. Fink

May 28, 2004, 12:09 PM
I am moving to Ohio in a month and my in-laws have there own private range at home. This range has two skeet throwers and targets set up all the way to 100yds. and that is just on the actuall back lawn. With the use of the farmers land behind us we can actually push out to about 800yds. if we wanted too.

Now thier property is not very wide as in street frontage but it is real deep and totally flat. The land that is ours is a 400 acre chunk and that is what the range is set up on and behind us as a back drop and what we can use to push back is a 20,000 acre farm of nothing but corn. Past that farm as far as you can possibly see with a telescope is nothing but farms and not a single residence or building. This is important as I said the land is completely flat, so all in all I would say that we have a good 15-20 miles of nothing for a bullet to hit and that is why I am considering buying a .50cal sniper rifle to shoot out there.

Now you certantly don't need that much clearance for most applications ecspecially shotguns. In fact I think that you only need a few hundred feet as a backstop for a shotgun. Like others said though if your land is hilly you can cut down on the amount of land you will need as a massive hill can be your backstop.

Another thing that you might want to look at is who's or what land is adjacent to yours. If it is a big empty lot you have more backstop to work with. Hope this helps.

May 28, 2004, 12:12 PM

Plus, Class 3 weapons are legal in Oregon. Wheeee!


Full auto is a great way to turn money into noise. -- Clint Smith

2nd Amendment
May 28, 2004, 12:16 PM
Maybe mentioned , maybe not: I remember reading here a while back, here I believe, that some states require a minimum acreage for shooting/hunting. I have been told by several people since that in Indiana, for instance, it's 5 acres. Personally I am on 12 and a 150 yd range is no problem but even with the other 27 acres of mine across the tracks I still feel hemmed in. Need more land. Never enough. :) Find some in BFE with a relatively low value and buy 45 instead of 4.5.

Henry Bowman
May 28, 2004, 12:16 PM
Crewchief - you still need a proper backstop for rifle rounds. Can you be 100% positive that there is NEVER anybody on that farm land (which you do not own) when you shoot? Does the farmer ever plow the field? The odds are small but the consequences are great. Obey rule #4. You need a backstop, especially if the land is flat.

R.H. Lee
May 28, 2004, 12:19 PM
Not landlocked (i.e., no continental weather extremes)? Shall-issue CCW permits? No sales tax? Some job opportunities?

That would be my guess.

FWIW, Eastern Oregon can be considered "landlocked" and is indeed a totally different environment than west of the Cascades. Also, both Idaho and Montana are "shall issue" states. As for unemployment rates, both Idaho and Montana's are LOWER than Oregon. See the U.S. Department of Labor ( table as of April 2004. Oregon appears to be FOURTH HIGHEST in the nation.

What was that other one, oh yeah. Sales tax. Idaho does have a sales tax, I'll even look up the rate for you if you like. Montana has no sales tax.

Doesn't sound like a compelling argument to me. :D

May 28, 2004, 01:23 PM
You know, I think he's the first person I've ever heard of leaving California because they're sick of the weather.

May 28, 2004, 02:14 PM
How much land wil I need?
Ultimately, about 6 feet by 3 feet

May 28, 2004, 03:03 PM
Look for land that adjoins a state forest or other government owned land that will not be developed.

May 28, 2004, 03:05 PM
My personal land that i shoot on sometimes, though not often because it is 3 hours from my home in cincy. We have 45 acres but where i shoot is about 7-10 acres. It is a nice flat spot where we used to have a cornfield when my great grandma still lived on the property. but i am lucky because it is at the foot of a mountain so God took care of the backstop for me.

Otherguy Overby
May 28, 2004, 03:38 PM
As said before, Oregon has no Sales Tax. However, property and income taxes are high and more than make up the difference.

Once you get up near Eugene (a liberal hotbed) you'll be surrounded by liberals all the way to Portland.

BTW, Washington state has no income tax and is also shall issue.

Eastern Oregon and Washington have a lot of high desert like land.

Montana also has no sales tax. Regretably, some of the nicer areas there have been infiltrated by very active liberals. Most especially around Flathead lake and Kalispell.

I'd tend toward Idaho.

Wyoming and South Dakota also have no income tax. South Dakota's property taxes are twice as high as Wyoming's, though.

Once you leave California, every state is shall issue except for Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

I ended up with 160 acres in the Ozarks. (low taxes and shall issue)

Finally, and most importantly, only buy unincorporated land well away from any town and watch out for any land use gotchas like well and septic restrictions/requirements.

"I don't mind if you don't like my manners. I don't like them myself. They're
pretty bad. I grieve over them long winter evenings." -- Phillip Marlowe

May 28, 2004, 03:59 PM
I'd recommend 40 acres, but if you're wanting to shoot 20 acres to my mind would be minimum. The ability to shoot into a natural hill/cliff/etc is a big big plus.
I have looked at flat land with the idea being to have a long narrow strip graded to produce elevation on both sides and

I have done shooting on a long thin 8 acre strip owned by a friend surrounded by others who own similar size/shaped strips. I limited it to pistol/.22 lr/ or black powder rounds. The site simply wasn't sufficient to contain high-powered rifle rounds.

May 28, 2004, 04:01 PM
I want to be able to go outside and plink up to about 50 yards.

I would suggest that you don't straightjacket yourself by purchasing based on your current firearms goals. A couple of months from now your firearms tastes may change and you're going to wish you could plink at multiples of that distance without having to drive somewhere. This would be especially true if you get into hunting or rifle competition.

R.H. Lee
May 28, 2004, 04:32 PM
Here are some relatively recent cost of living comparisons:

Idaho, Montana and Oregon rank lowest, middle, and highest, respectively.

May 28, 2004, 07:11 PM
Well, first off, I hate CA. I never realized how bad we have it until I started really talking to family and friends in other states.
I hate the weather. We have no seasons. Oh, sure , the mercury drops a little, so all the news anchors start whining about cold. But I want to live someplace with snow in the winter. And rain. I am sick of the eternal drought warnings here.
Shall issue is a BIG reason.
I wanted Montana. However, the wife has a sister who plans to move there. 'Nuff said.
I want mountains. The wife loves the ocean. That rules out landlocked areas.
No sales taxes. I've checked out property taxes, and they are actually a little lower than what we pay in the Bay Area. Cost of living works out to around 30 percent lower than where I am now. And I am not in an affluent community.
We have friends in Oregon, and my wife's father lives there.
Education. BIG reason. The schools here pretty much look at English as a second language. CA was ranked 44th in the nation last year, as public schools go. Oregon is 32nd. Not the best, but something we can work with, at least.
Ease of move. We're looking at about an 8 hour drive to get to Oregon. That beats anything on the East coast.
I don't want to pump my own gas anymore. Just lazy. I miss full serve.
I'm a right leaning Libertarian who belongs to a not so mainstream religion. (For those of you with time on your hands, my username is a clue.)
I don't fit in with liberals( can't stand 'em!), but hardcore conservatives tend to be a little intolerant(IME) of religious differences.
So, the best fit is a place with a good mix. It seems to make for the best laws, as well. More freedom for everyone.
I may have missed a few reasons, but that's a good start.
Oh yeah, I miss billboards in English. I'm of the firm belief(based on the political goings on here and personal observations) that CA will be turned over to Mexico in about 10 years.
Oregon may not be the final destination, but it's a huge improvement on my present situation.

May 28, 2004, 10:00 PM
Make sure to check all local (county) ordnances. I love living here in the Texas Hill Country, but when we moved here was surprised to learn that there is a county ordnance which restricts shooting to properties greater than 10 acres. Last year the county government was talking of increasing the minimum to 20 acres. Too many people.


May 28, 2004, 10:41 PM
First of all, I believe about 5 acres is about the minimum needed to make a mini farm which will grow all the food needed for a family of 4 plus have some fruit left over to sell.

Concerning minimum land to shoot that is a whole different ball of wax. I own a dirt pit which is only an acre in size but it is buried away a quarter mile from houses behindn the shooter and a mile from houses behind the berm. I can shoot on it all day without problems.

I used to shoot at a dirt pit which was owned by the sheriff of the county where I worked. It was between a ball field and an airplane runway, but since the sheriff owned it there was never any problem, even shooting machine guns. Just had to call his wife and tell her when and who were shooting.

On the other hand I have a fifteen acre woodlot with deer which has a neighbor who lives a quarter mile at a 90 degree angle from my shooting stand. He is insane (unrelated to hunting/shooting) and has spent the last 6 months trying to get me to refrain from hunting there, to the point where I had to get the deputy sheriff to tell him I was going to have him arrested if he trespassed again or put him in the mental hospital if he endangered himself by crossing over where I was hunting.

Go figure. :rolleyes:

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