How Much Land to Shoot On?


Feb 27, 2024
This might be something you all might be able to advise on. I've always wondered how much land one would need to shoot on it without being a threat to neighbors. I know this is probably regional in some ways (like legally) but I'm talking about safe distances for bullet travel. If I want to buy some land to shoot on how many acres would I need to be looking at? What sort of backdrop would I be looking for assuming it wouldn't be in a hilly region?

I'm asking for long term goals to be honest. I dream of moving out of my suburban HOA controlled neighborhood and having somewhere isolated, wooded, and safe to shoot on. I hate dragging everything to the range and paying membership fees. My backyard is measured in square feet rather acres. That's how small it is! Right now I'm thinking about buying some land to shoot and camp on until I can afford to build a home on it.
I've always felt that about 40 acres, assuming mostly woodland, was a good minimum - but I base that on nothing more than my grandfather's 40 acre farm in Missouri, where the woods were thick enough that you couldn't have hit a neighbor's house if you tried.

Conversely, 40 acres wouldn't be near enough in the California desert where I spend much of my recreational time. That would mean much less than a mile from one house to the next, and most bullets can easily make that distance with lethal force...
In my County it depends on what and how you are shooting. A "gun range" in the city might be measured in sq/ft, for example.

I use natural berms at our farm and a steel trap at my house.


You can look up your local codes.

The discharge of a weapon is governed by Texas Local Government Code 229.003, which generally states that a firearm may be discharged if the following requirements are met: The discharge of a shotgun, air rifle or pistol, BB gun, or bow and arrow is permissible on a tract of land that is: 10 acres or more in size.
It'll depend on if you're shooting rimfire, handguns, or centerfire rifle.

I have 3 acres and felt comfortable shooting .22's and handguns but I had a good backstop made of logs to stop those projectiles and there was a mile of uninhabited mature woods behind my house. I shot .223 once and saw the backstop I was using at the time was not adequate for that.

I had an uncle who build an even better backstop with railroad ties and sand and he shot just about everything on just an acre. Neighbors called the cops numerous times and the cops came out and said his backstop was better than their county range and he could continue to shoot. But again, he had a lot of land behind his backstop that he didn't own but was uninhabited.
You can look up your local codes.

Yeah, I have. Where my home is it's considered a high residential area so you're not even allowed fire a gun here. I'm definitely talking about future plans somewhere else. I basically live at the edge of North Virginia and this area is developing really fast. I'd go somewhere more rural.
As the other guys said, it depends on a lot of different factors IE, zoning, terrain, firearms, type of shooting, etc.

I have 80 acres in a 1/4 wide, 1/2 mile long layout. My rifle range goes out to 760yds, basically because I own a small valley and shoot from a hill into a hill:


I still use smaller berms so I can spot misses:




For my pistol range backstop I dug into my hill and added gravel.


It also serves as the backstop for 50-100 and 200yds:


IF I was looking for land specifically for shooting it would:

1. Be as long as my intended longest distance shooting distance.

2. Back into a hill or larger

3. Face north. My range faces west and it OK for mornings and mid afternoons, sucks late afternoons.. unless I use an umbrella.

4. Far enough from a town/city as to not get annexed.
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I don't know about your State but this one is growing so fast, what is next door can change at any minute, if you're not the one that buys it.

For an example ~ 20 years ago, in our "home" county they doubled the tract size you need to own, it used to be 5 acres.

All it takes is a couple people to vote on doubling it again and one would need 20...
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I guess it's what is socially acceptable in your area.

Safety-wise, it really doesn't matter the size of the lot so much as the backstop. If you shoot a rifle into the air toward the horizon from the middle of 640 acres, you can still hit a neighbor.

To the other extreme, I could drop a container on a 1/4 acre lot and build a trap, or put a trap in a basement and be perfectly safe.
A friend has 100 acres but shape and elevation are uneven. He has an easy 600 yards on the flat from his building. He has thrown up berms at the silhouette ranges of 200, 300, 385, and 500 meters. He can get cattycornered and shoot farther. It is about 50 miles from his house but his building incudes living quarters so he can vacation there. Sometimes he has to shoo the cattle out of the line of fire.

BUT A group near here was setting up a range on ground with with a high bank, little earthwork required to put in a range. Noise complaints got the county commission to deny them permission to develop and shoot. The last time I was there after a match on the roughed out range, I passed the house of the leading complainant, complete with private backyard range.

My favorite is the guy with a 1000 yard range on one acre. But it is a 14 foot stripe 3000 feet long across a vast midwestern grain field.
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What concerns many people can be in regard to guests (when the owner might not be present) who are either new shooters or possibly careless types.

For example a son invites a buddy who you don't know etc.

And Northerners who move into their first actual rural land--and it's down South! 🙃
Somewhere in DeSoto County MS, south of Memphis, some guys on a nice Sunday afternoon saw a police Helicopter while there must have been at least one patrol car dispatched to rural land.
The new people from (probably) somewhere like Boston or maybe NYC heard distant loud gun shots on private land and assumed the worst!

The largest private gun club in the entire Mid-South has No Gongs for rifle chamberings such as .223, 7.62z39, .308 etc....the Action Pistol gongs are only for .22, 9mm, .40 etc,
I drive 1:20 to reach a club with gongs for any typical centerfire rifle, at 200, 300 yards and further.
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We have 3.25 acres located on a hillside with uninhibited "open space" behind it. At least until the Colorado Triple-D legislature gets around to restricting it, I can legally shoot anything on my property as long as the projectiles stay inside the notional fence line. We have a small range area with berm that we generally only fire air guns and .22 Colibri/CCI Quiets. On occasion, I will shoot a handful of something larger, but the concept of doing an AR mag dump is completely out of the question with trying to be a responsible neighbor.
What concerns many people can be in regard to guests (when the owner might not be present) who are either new shooters or possibly careless types.

For example a son invites a buddy who you don't know etc.

Doesn't happen on my place..

IF I'm not physically present, no shooting period. I'm an actual dick about it, but technically I own every round that gets fired on my place. Guys that do come out to shoot are the ones I trust, and have shot with, other's go through a "progression" of demonstrating competence. IF you're not hitting well at 100 & 200 (big hill backstop), you don't get to go further.

I also maintain pretty strict hrs. No shooting earlier than 0800 MON-SAT, no earlier than 0900 on Sunday. I sometimes do low-light shoots, but only spring/fall when it gets dark earlier. I don't have to, the county doesn't enforce noise issues, but it's good to be neighborly and everyone around here shoots, but nobody wants to live next to a range.

There was a guy south of me that put a lot of money in his range, shot at all hours, neighbors complained. County couldn't do anything about it, until they realized he was teaching classes etc. and that meant money changing hands, which requires a "special use permit" which then requires an environmental impact study. Bottom line was he was issued a cease and desist order. He got it cleared up because again, they can't prevent you from shooting on your own property (at least here), but the commercial aspect is finished.
I have ONE acre of property that the county sheriffs have said I can build a range on as long as I have proper backstops and R/L limits. Haven't done so yet as I feel this is below the bare minimum needed. But, next door is an 800 acre hunting preserve I can go on at any time.
It is possible to safely shoot on a relatively small parcel of land. The bigger problem is noise complaints from neighbors even if you have 100 acres.

Well, there is legal and not liked. I try to be a good neighbor, the only time anyone has called the Sheriff on us, here at home, was when we first moved into the area and were playing with machineguns. He could see we had a good back stop and did ask how much land we had, told us to have fun and left.

We have one piece of property adjoining our farm that the late owner allowed the County's Sheriff's office, to build their range on. Everyone around wants us to kick them out. Guess it does no good to call the cops on themselves...
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Chuck R. said (Post #6):

"I have 80 acres in a 1/4 wide, 1/2 mile long layout. My rifle range goes out to 760yds, basically because I own a small valley and shoot from a hill into a hill..."


You want to adopt me?

I'm clean, neat, quiet, can wash dishes, feed livestock, can do rudimentary welding, and I know how to reload your ammo for you.

Terry, 230RN
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Well, there is legal and not liked. I try to be a good neighbor

There is a pretty upscale sporting clays course about an hours drive from home that I've shot on a couple of times. They are WAAAY out in the country with only scattered farms for miles. No other structures for at least 2-3 miles. Legally they don't have to do so, but they don't allow shooting until after noon on Sundays trying to be a good neighbor.
Too many variables!!! In a divided area with 5 ac patches you will make enemies with most neighbour's. A 5 ac patch cut out of a large farm where they are selling off the house on 5 ac secluded that's different. Even with 50ac you can have neighbour's close.
My closest is 400 yds away but they have all night atv get togethers. No mufflers seem popular. So I start with the chronograph early on the morning after.
Otherwise never before 10am and 12am on Sundays. Week days are a bonus. We live in the sticks for different reasons . No reason to anoy nonshooters too much.
My neighbour's still wave when passing by.
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There were several excellent comments on "noise", and group shooting. If you are outside of city/town limits, noise and nuisance ordinances may be harder to accommodate than safety over berms and land size. The other is keeping your range personal use only. It's seems more possible to run afoul of combined ownership or anything deemed as "for profit", or group use.