Home Range Etiquette

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Aug 9, 2011
Kendall County, TX
I grew up in a situation where we had one neighbor direct across the street, and no other neighbors within a half mile or moreon any direction. With the better part of a dozen acres backed up to a mountainside, we shot at home regularly, and the guy across the street shot on his own property too. Never seemed like a big deal.

My wife and I have moved back to my childhood hometown, which has about doubled in population over the last 15 years or so. We'll be looking at buying a home with acreage, and I've already verified with state and county law. The areas we're looking are all legal shooting areas on private property (meaning Snohomish county hasn't classified them as "no shoot" areas).

I've done a by of research and it seems like many people feel it's best to get permission for your neighbors before shooting on one's own property. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Aside from ensuring I have a safe backstop and checking the legality of it, do I owe my neighbors an explanation or request before I shoot on my own land? Even if I don't "owe" it to my neighbors, per se, is it important that I get permission just to be a "good neighbor?"

I've always been of the idea that a person can do whatever he does on his own land so long as it's legal and it won't endanger me or my family. Even if I were to have a neighbor who's an anti-gun person who asks me not to shoot, I don't think it would keep me from doing it if I was within my rights. But I don't want to go out of my way to be a jerk, either. I've never owned a home and I'm just not sure what the best route would be.

What do you all think?
Assuming all correct safety procedures are followed and your neighbors are in no way in danger I see only one issue. Guns are very loud, it would be a good idea to give fair warning especially if you're shooting something especially noisy.
We haven't bought a place yet, but neighbors are between two and 500 yards from home to home. Most of the acreage lots seem to be rectangular and perpendicular to the road.

So yes, neighbors would hear the gunshots in most or all of the scenarios. But we aren't talking about anything within range to be damaging without ear pro.

I lived in AZ for the past few years but I just couldn't stay away. The beauty of Three Fingers as a backdrop is unlike any place else I've ever visited or lived. :)
it's not a bad idea to chat with your neighbors BEFORE you buy a house. tell them you plan to shoot in your back yard
Think about this

500 yards...they may not have an issue though the sound WILL carry.

100 yards and you have a problem on your hands unless you find neighbors who are shooters and want to join you. I am a shooter and it would drive me nuts.
Good call on talking to neighbors before buying. Idk why but that hadn't even occurred to me. Guess that's the value of experience.

I also appreciate the other input so far.
Sugar & honey will get you more bees then vinegar!

You PO even one neighbor, and they can make your life miserable, legal or not!

My buddy has 160 acres in the country, and has shot there since 1970.
In the last five years or so, city dwellers are buying up land around him.
And call the county sheriff every time he brings out the big guns!

Of course, he is perfectly within his rights.
And the sheriff keeps on telling his new neighbors that.
But that does't stop them from calling them again every month or so.

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I'll assume your county ordinances allows shooting with a safe backstop, and that if there is a distance-to-neighbour restriction, or a time of day restriction, that you'll abide by it. So you know you're legal.

However, before going ahead there's nothing to lose and some to be gained by first talking to the neighbour. Invite him over, show him your range, the berm, etc. if you give the neighbour a heads up he is much less likely to complain or call the Bylaws folk on you. Maybe he's another shooter or hunter. :)

But if he objects then call Bylaws first. Before you take a shot. Let them know what you're doing and that they might hear from the neighbour.

Then when he calls they'll tell him you're gtg and not to bother calling again.

edit: RC beat me to it.
Yep. Good stuff.

In regards to design of the range, I'm thinking of a high (15' or so), U-shaped berm to surround the actual shooting area. Obviously, bringing in some heavy equipment would help get that done. I was shooting at a private range in Arizona that had a very similar design. Seemed like it may have prevented the sound of shots from carrying far. It was basically desert area, and you still could barely hear the shots just a few hundred yards away.

Does anyone else have any similar experience? Is there a different type of design that might be more effective?
you'd want to call them anyway... to ask about the neighborhood, ask about the other neighbors, anything unusual that might affect property values, any impending changes (like new businesses moving in or zoning changes etc.... do any of the neighbors shoot much?
So yes, neighbors would hear the gunshots in most or all of the scenarios. But we aren't talking about anything within range to be damaging without ear pro.

Just because its not technically loud enough to do permanent damage doesn't make it not a nuisance. What if someone works 2nd or 3rd shift and is sleeping when you're shooting? What if the kid just went down for a nap? What if the dog goes ballistic over loud noises? Or what if the neighbors just genuinely view random loud noises as a nuisance?

Talk to them it will probably be cool, but do realize that guns are extremely loud (and therefore can be a nuisance) even from a safe distance. I too believe a man should generally be able to do as he pleases on his property, but some things affect your neighbors and do warrant some basic courtesy.
you are now the new guy on the block, and growing up there back in the day/ ancestral roots don't matter. You neighbors have preceded you and the neighborhood has a set of expectations for noise and other behaviors. Find out what they are before buying. Talk to the perspective neighbors and see if they are all shooters, or if they are all anti gun folks. But for heaven's sake, don't go in there thinking that you can do whatever you want on your own property. You can if you own the whole valley or are 5 miles up a winding gravel road. But if you have neighbors within earshot who were there first, find out the lay of the land before buying.
Snohomish county is a big place.
I could see it out past Granite Falls, but I would expect a lot of resistance in the south/western part of the county.

People regularly get upset about the noise from the Kenmore gun range; even though it's been there longer than most of the houses.

It might be worth asking the question to the Snohomish County Sheriff.
Just because you talk to your neighbors and thier ok with you shooting dosent mean new ones who arent ok with it arent going to move in later. Where i live the property has been in the family for many years and most of our neighbors have built homes in the last 15 or so years. Some are shooters like us and some not so much. I have one neighbor (450 yards away) who moved in about 10 years ago and dosent like me shooting. He came to my home and literally was screaming (and spitting) at me to find a public range. A different neighbor blamed her dog getting loose and getting hit by a car on my shooting. Were down to 40 acres now with backstops at every station and i have been legally shooting here since i was 5. I personally would never let a disgruntled neighbor hinder my shooting. Its one of the main reasons i still live up here. Im not saying dont be polite and ask around but in the end i doubt it will make a whole lot of difference. Eventually old neighbors move out and new ones move in anyways.
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Yep long as I'm legal my neibhors can whine all they want my land my choice I'll shoot if I choose
Not saying you have to take no for an answer, just be aware of the noise factor. You can always phrase it so it sounds like your asking WHEN you can shoot and not IF you can shoot.
I limit my shooting times to, mostly, mid-afternoon. My neighbors all shoot also and occasionally use my range. The only time I notify them in advance, typically via text message, is when I shoot our .50BMG and that is typically limited to 10-15 shots.

I can guarantee my gunfire is not nearly as obnoxious as the dirt bikes on the next property over....I wish they would respect neighbors more....they ride until 11 at night sometimes. The bikes are only a little louder than the fireworks they seem to have a never ending supply of.....neighbors like them are what gives rural living a bad name.
I agree with the trend of everyone else. I would probably at least warn the neighbors, as opposed to "getting their permission". At the same time, I would build this thing with the knowledge that I might need to modify my shooting habits to make my neighbors happy. Just because it's legal for you to shoot all day every day doesn't mean you have to be a jerk about it (not that you would ;) )
Don't ask permission. Inform the neighbors you will be shooting and when you will likely be doing it. Ask if that is acceptable to them. Ask if they would like to be notified so they can be expecting it.

Don't ask permission from someone else to do something that's legal on your own property. You're essentially forfeiting your rights to them of your own accord. Make sure they know you're going to do it, but don't give them the ability to control your behavior.
I agree that on my own property I would shoot if I wished, but that doesn't mean I would have a "screw you" attitude about anything.

These are going to be your neighbors, probably for many years. Be considerate and communicate and you likely won't have any issues. Of course there are some people who will make an issue out of anything. There's not much you can do about folks like that.

When I was out in the sticks, I would have thought it strange if a day went by and I didn't hear gunfire.
I think I would chat with at least one of your prospective neighbors and try to get the lay of the land. I agree with most everything that has been said other than being a butt and doing whatever you feel like, just because you can.
There is a house over a mile away from the state range I shoot at--he is on the edge of state land.
He complained to the DNR that he could hear 50 cal shells being fired & they no longer allow them.
DNR says that they will never sell state land near that range--I don't believe them.
Time will tell.
This is 70 miles from my house--when I was a kid we hunted about 4 miles away
Houses on both sides of me (both about 50 or 75 meters away) are shooters and have their own backyard ranges which they regularly shoot on. The other day I was shooting some vent holes into my burn barrel on my incomplete backyard range. As a courtesy I went over to both houses to let them know I would be firing .22LR, nothing big like they shoot but still thought to give them a heads up as I have given no other indication I own firearms.
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