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Ideas for a backstop?

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by Derek Zeanah, May 8, 2019.

  1. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

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    I have a pie-shaped 5+ acre plot whose tip extends down into the swamp. I have a pistol range there that directs into the edge of the pie into the swamp. Physically I'm shooting down, and the nearest building per google maps is a property at 10 o'clock from that position about 1800 yards up and over some hills. I have a chest-high mound of dirt as a backstop which is safe, but I'd like something more formidable that screams "super-safe" to that little voice in the back of my head that worries about everything.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I was thinking about mounting some landscaping timbers in an upright manner and finding some way to make it support sand bags. I'm sure there's something better, though...

    I'm not very intuitive with carpentry and such, but can follow basic directions. ;)
     
  2. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    I have a couple RR ties in my backyard that the chipmunks like to preen on, and I can tell you that low angle impacts will ricochet a .22LR bullet frequently.

    I prefer a protruding bit of geology to catch my bullets. Baring that, a steel trap that ricochets down into a soft bed is good.
     
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  3. <*(((><
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    <*(((>< Luke

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    Dig some post holes to hold vertical railroad ties at about 6' apart (railroad ties generally are about 8' long), bury 2-3' of the railroad tie into the hole, make sure they are plumb and in line with each other to form a \_/ type of scenario with the wide end facing the shooting position. Then lay railroad ties along the back side of the vertical railroad ties overlapping the joints with each course of railroad tie and secure the joints to the railroad tie above that spans the joint until a desired height is acheived; then back fill the back of the railroad tie \_/ with a dirt mound up to the height. Then you can at the back of the \_/ lay railroad ties across the top and secure them with lags to the vertical ties and horizontal laid ties to form a roof for the back section. I would think given your scenario it would be overkill but would satisfy your desires to be very safe.

    The roof railroad ties would take care of any errant bounce off steel targets, and allow for a hanging point for said targets. Good high watt solar lights can be used to light up the bunker if its dark towards the back.

    The vertical wall of railroad ties with backfilled dirt behind will be more than adequate to stop your shots.
     
  4. Mizar

    Mizar Member

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    Wouldn't it be more cheaper (and safer) to just hire a backhoe for couple of hours to build a C-shaped embankment?
     
  5. bearcreek

    bearcreek Member

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    Hire somebody with a mini excavator to build your berm higher. I agree that chest high is a bit low. Fine if you're just doing slow fire stuff, zeroing and that sort of thing. Definitely want to go higher if you want to really use the range for training.
     
  6. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I don’t have any dirt moving equipment at the house so I built mine out of 4000 lbs of steel. 8.5 ft tall and 16 ft wide.

    E3BD9CD3-DCB4-4811-9D47-6A09F7E62CFF.jpeg CB818A14-0B3A-4134-B868-59062BC4DD52.jpeg
     
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  7. bearcreek

    bearcreek Member

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    Makes sense if you already have the steel lying around, (although if I had that much hardened plate I'd be using it for other things besides a backstop). For what 4000 lbs. of steel cost, a person could hire an excavator to build a berm that was way bigger than that.
     
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  8. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I got it off Craigslist it was some “drop” from bridge construction.

    I have berms at the farm, they have to be quite large if you want the ability to mow and otherwise maintain them, erosion, critters that like to make homes in them because they are less dense than the ground they are sitting on etc. Not to mention I have the ability to move it fairly easy.

    Maintaining berms is something many “first timers” don’t think about.
     
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  9. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    Steel pit best if you don't have equipment to maintain berm. Size just depends on longest shot distance.
     
  10. lightman

    lightman Member

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    This was my first thought. After its done spread some grass seeds on it to help with erosion.
     
  11. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    I use rail road ties with dirt in front:
    uej9hdmscunGrrepyDne1-aTzmDQ9jx27Ri0b8Lr2BrO95kamTIXURvdWpf5a0DW1-JgfJfeY2AGcbdO7pY=w979-h734-no.jpg
     
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  12. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    Big pile of dirt like 15 ft high
     
  13. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    jmorris has the right idea, great for recycling the lead.

    I have seen power line poles and railroad ties set vertically then stack old car tires over them.
     
  14. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Dirt is your friend. You already own it. You just need to move it. Anything you shoot into will be eroded by the gunfire. How much depends on the material and how much you wear away at it. Twenty feet of compacted dirt takes much longer to wear through than just about anything.

    A 40º slope will hold grass which will keep the berm from eroding away.

    For 15' high berm, the base will be 32-33' wide.

    Since you mentioned downhill, it's a really good idea to invest in some HPDE drain pipes through the base of the berm (unless you want an impromptu stock tank after it rains).

    Collect the dirt from the low side and push it uphill to make the berm. It's really small dozer work, but you can use a front end loader (the dozer just gives you better compaction of the berm).

    But, that's just my 2¢
     
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  15. hdwhit

    hdwhit Member

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    Are you sure? Are you Willing to bet your freedom on it? Are you willing to bet your ability to ever legally own a gun on it?

    What about people who might be outside that building? Has there been any change in construction or occupancy since Google took that picture (the picture of my property on GoogleMaps dates from 2011 and there have been substantial changes since then).

    What if someone from those buildings is hiking on or near your "chest-high" berm?

    Frankly, what you describe seems to me to be a felony prison sentence waiting to happen.

    In my own case, the backdrop to my firing range is 105 feet (much more than "chest high") above the surrounding terrain. But, with nothing more than "chest high" you have no margin for error.
    • A distraction.
    • An interruption.
    • An accident.
    • A guest who isn't as capable as you.
    Any of that. And you potentially shoot a neighbor.

    And then you lose your gun rights.

    As others have already advised, get someone in with earth-moving equipment to build up your backstop to a responsible height.

    That, or recognize that 5 acres is not enough land to have a firing range on.
     
  16. bearcreek

    bearcreek Member

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    What's a "responsible" height? Only takes one idiot to shoot over a berm, doesn't matter if it's 500 feet high.

    Why isn't it? What is enough? Seems like it depends more on the configuration and location of the land than it does the size.
     
  17. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    It depends, I know of a number of indoor ranges that are in less than 10,000 square feet buildings (1 acre is 43,560 square feet).

    In my county it is legal to discharge firearms on private lots of more than 10 acres. They actually remind every one before dove season, every year in an effort to reduce the number of calls by “city” folks that moved out into the country and blow up the 911 operators center September 1st, with “someone’s shooting....”

    The commissioners court did vote to restrict discharging firearms on lots smaller than 10. I don’t have a small lot so I never did look to see what the restrictions are.

    So how much land is needed might be dependent on a few factors.

    I only have one range that utilizes more than an acre of space but here at home I need the other attached land to stay within the rules.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  18. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Have a load of sand delivered to the site and dumped into a berm built of old tires or cross ties capable of holding the material to a height of 8 ft.. Or ...Do you have access to retired conveyor belt? Build a frame that can hold 3 overlapping layers (think soccer goals with layers of belt).
     
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  19. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    My old, old (long gone) range had taken advantage of a plant closing to get a couple truckloads of 30mm rubber conveyor belt. They used it as target frame filler since it accepted either tacks or staples readily.
    hat it did not do so very well was stop bullets. It took about 5 layers to slow down pistol rounds. Also, which the holes would sort of seal up with 3 or 4 shots, once you got enough rounds in the same spot, the shot-through area would just rip out leaving a big gap.
    As a public range they got perhaps two weeks out of a sheet before is 25% hole; if they were being lazy, they'd go 4 weeks between replacing the sheets. They used 14-16 foot earthen berms behind the target frames.
     
  20. 1MoreFord

    1MoreFord Member

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    I've heard it's not a good idea to use steel belted radials for this. Not sure this is true but I'll repeat the caution anyway. 18-wheeler tires are definitely preferred. Two layers filled with dirt or sand is best. _-_-_-_ spacing is needed and the higher the better.
     
  21. Bob Willman

    Bob Willman Member

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    In 1971 when we moved out of town, but not too far out, I stacked used railroad ties spaced like a split rail fence in a cup shaped structure about 7' high. I did put vertical poles where the ties overlapped to hold the ties in place. Then I put corrugated plastic sheets against the ties and had 2 truck loads of yellow sand dumped against the plastic sheets. Yellow sand in NW Ohio has no rocks in it. This resulted in a sand pile almost 6' high in the center and about 5' wide. At the 2' high target level the sand is about 5' thick and the target area is almost 7' wide. The deepest bullets I have retrieved from the sand were from pure lead maxi balls shot from muzzle loaders that were elbow deep. Jacketed bullets maybe go 8" to 10" deep.

    Bob
     
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  22. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I would build a very large wooden box from whatever timber you can find (from pallets to tree trunks). And fill it with dirt.
     
  23. bearcreek

    bearcreek Member

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    Wow, how annoying. Once again proves that logic is a rare commodity amongst law makers, even local ones.
    Exactly. I have a 100 yard range and conduct CCW classes on my 5 acre property. My range wouldn't be any more or less safe if I happened to own 100 acres.
     
  24. bearcreek

    bearcreek Member

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    Was there a reason given? I've seen bullets go in one side of a tire (without rim) and fail to exit the other side. I would think a steel belted tire would work better than kevlar belted but hard to say I suppose. Maybe ricochets are the concern?
     
  25. 1MoreFord

    1MoreFord Member

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    I was told this a long time ago but IIRC it was because the belts might turn the bullets.
     
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