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Hay bales a suitable backstop?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by CliffH, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. CliffH

    CliffH Well-Known Member

    During a recent conversation with a CHL instructor, he said he's used the large (~1200 lbs) round hay bales as a backstop for both pistol and rifle shooting. He cautioned against shooting through it long-wise (with the grain), but to shoot through the side. He maintained the hay would stop a 30-30 at 100 yards.

    The minimum distances from the bales would be .357 at 5 yards and 30-30 at 50 yards. I'm assuming farther distances from the bales would increase their ability to stop the rounds.

    Has anyone tried this and how well did it work?
  2. GlowinPontiac

    GlowinPontiac Well-Known Member

    I have not tried it but those hay bales can be really dense. they should stop most handgun rounds if you fire into them cross-grain.

    I'm not sure if i would trust them to stop rifle rounds though.
  3. Rubber_Duck

    Rubber_Duck Well-Known Member

    A friend of mine shoots a bow and arrow using hay as a backstop and the arrows come out the other side with regularity. Now this is with the standard square bails that you see everywhere, so I don't know about the large 1200-Lb. bails. Not sure how well hay will stop a bullet (however, I suppose enough of anything will stop a bullet). That said, I would use something else for a backstop.
  4. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Well-Known Member

    Unless you're making them yourself and can fiddle with the density in a safe area, I would say no.
  5. Kind of Blued

    Kind of Blued Well-Known Member

    It depends. What's behind the hay bales? :)
  6. ColinthePilot

    ColinthePilot Well-Known Member

    Aren't those usually made for feeding livestock? I'm no farmer but I usually see them scattered around fields full of cows or other big animals. I would worry about my cows getting lead poisoning or penetrating the bale and hitting an animal.
  7. One Shot

    One Shot Member

    To use hay bales as a back stop is unsafe. They have the potential to allow a round to pass through. My oldest boy thought it was a safe bet shooting at some two high bales and at the time I thought so too, but a loud clang of some ag equipment proved other wise.
  8. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

    Ok, see how many people volunteer to stand behind the hay bale. There's your answer!
  9. Big Boomer

    Big Boomer Well-Known Member

    absolutely not, you would need them to be at least 20-30 thick to be decent. I blew through 10 easily. Think of them as loosely stacked cardboard.

    Even then bullets can change direction within them providing once again for a poor backstop.
  10. CliffH

    CliffH Well-Known Member

    What's behind them depends on where they're placed. In two directions there are a line of trees about 20' deep with houses on the other side, the third side has 5 acres of scrub & trees with a highway on the other side of it.

    So, I need a reliable backstop.

    There's no problem of livestock getting to the hay, unless they break down/go through a couple of fences. And that's not my problem, the responsibility for keeping them off my place would fall on the owners.

    I've also got a couple telephone poles that can be used in conjunction with the hay; maybe cut them into shorter lengths and stand them side-by-side vertically behind 2 bales of hay - i.e. shooting through 2 bales into the poles.

    Big Boomer What were you shooting that went through 10 of the big bales? Good point about the possibility of the bullet changing direction.
  11. Nate C.

    Nate C. Well-Known Member

    I don't think haybales would be sufficient.
  12. kingpin008

    kingpin008 Well-Known Member

    Agreed, not a good idea. True, that much hay is going to be nice and dense and would probably stop most bullets (well, at least pistol bullets) with relative ease, you'd just be drilling a hole through it as you went. I'd imagine that an afternoon's worth of shooting would go a long way towards making a previously "safe enough" bale of hay a bullet tunnel. I'd avoid it, even if you did manage to rig up something with the telephone poles. I'd much rather have a big ol' dirt berm backed with old tires or telephone poles/boards than a couple big haybales any day.
  13. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Hay Bales Are Not Suitable As A Backstop

    Hay Bales Are Not Suitable As Cover

  14. goon

    goon Well-Known Member

    Depending on whether or not you can locate something near a suitable bank and on how good of a shot you are...
    I can tell you that a 16" white pine tree stump will stop 30-30 at 50 yards and it will also absorb about a bazillion handgun bullets before it needs replaced.
    For my uses, it's a lot easier to move around and replace than a bale of hay would be.
    But I do have mine set up in front of another pretty decent backstop.
  15. Radagast

    Radagast Well-Known Member

    I've used hay (roughly 18 x 18 x 36inches) bales to prevent ricochets from exiting a pistol range when targets where mounted low to the ground. 90 percent of the time a .38 super or 9mm FMJ would not penetrate the bales placed behind the targets, but the bales quickly became chewed up behind the A zone of the target.

    You need to do some earth moving and build a proper backstop & side berms, preferably with a steel shield over the target area to catch ricochets from going over the top of the backstop.

    http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/133140/Range_Guide.pdf has, among all the standard government 'you can't do that' fairly detailed information on designing and building safe ranges.
  16. ckyllo

    ckyllo Well-Known Member

    I would just get a dump truck load of fill dirt and have it dumped where you want it. You would need someone with a loader or skid loader to pile it high enough for a back stop. Chances are if you contact a landscaper with a dump and skid they could make a pretty good back stop for you.
  17. cmidkiff

    cmidkiff Well-Known Member

    I was at a shoot last summer where we used a round bale as a target holder. There was a dirt berm behind it, the bale was already there, and was a convenient place to hang targets. We fired many different calibers, but all pistols, no rifles. By the end of the day, the entire center of the bale was gone.

    No sir, a hay bale is not a suitable backstop.

    A dirt berm works best.
  18. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Well-Known Member

    Sure those haybales would work just fine...
    If you put 'em in a circle and use 'em as a retaining wall for the mountain of loose sand you pour in the middle. :evil:
  19. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    No way I'd trust it.
  20. Vaarok

    Vaarok Well-Known Member

    I was going to say that too. Big-squares, the one-meter-by-one-meter-by-two-meters kind, make excellent retaining-wall for a sand backstop.

    They don't stop a damn thing by themselves.

    GREAT for bayonet practice, though.

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