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Safety of Shooting On Personal Property

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by MyDogNelson, May 30, 2009.

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  1. MyDogNelson

    MyDogNelson Member

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    I just signed a purchase agreement to buy 130 acres of heavily forested property (about 40 miles from Houston). The proprty measures approximately 2,650 ft by 2,100 ft. At the moment there is nothing on the property except trees - and lots of them - but we are going to build a house there soon. The property, a retangular shape, is rimmed on one long side by a quiet road, on the two short sides by property occupying one single home each, and on the other long side by a small development of eight or ten single family homes.

    I shoot mainly pistols (9mm, .40 and .45 cal) and ocassionally a rifle (30-06) and a 12 guage shotgun. My question is, assuming I shoot into the trees in a direction where I know no houses are and where no cars or people are likely to be, do you think that would be safe or should I build a berm? Also what about hunting? You can't use a berm for that. I'm hoping that 130 acres of heavily treed land should be safe for shooting as long as I am mindful of neighboring homes, etc., but I'd thought I ask here for any advice. Thanks...
     
  2. Hungry Seagull

    Hungry Seagull member

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    2 Kilometers radius from your firearm is the fall zone for various shot. Some wont make it that far.

    I say get a dozer and dig yourself a 50 yard range. Just go downhill about 10 feet and pile the backstop twice as high and here is your safe firing range.

    Some of my neighbors live on a acre and shoot anyway. I wonder sometimes what they are shooting or who.

    As long as no one near your property hears shooting and complains, it can be very nice.

    Good luck!
     
  3. edelbrock

    edelbrock Member

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    I would say that is good advice except I would probably go for a 100 yard range.
     
  4. jfh

    jfh Member

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    What you're asking is what constitutes a calculated risk--for you--and only you can determine whether or not the risk for your desire to shoot into the trees is small enough to offset any safety issues.

    My opinion: were it my property, I would put in some sort of berm / backstop for your range shooting. The reason for that berm is not only for safe shooting, but taking into account possilbe "cultural" issues with neighbors--particularly the small development.

    As for hunting, that should depend on your state codes. What--if any--they say about population density, etc., in your area.

    Jim H.
     
  5. redranger1

    redranger1 Member

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    Use the way your land lasy to your advantage and learn the way your nieghbors land lays. I didnt see where your from, but if it anything like where i live you dont have any flatland! Find a place in your property that would make almost a natural berm or a place that would require only having a dumptruck load or two of dirt being dumped in a strategic point. Theres no need to higher a dozer if you plan this out carefully. And for hunting, hunt from a stand and your shots will go into the ground. If you hunt on the ground the best thing you can do is be mindful of the way your nighbors properties lay and then use your head from there. Oh, google earth can be a great help in doing this aswell! Good luck!
     
  6. jnyork

    jnyork Member

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    I have a similar arrangement except that there are no neighbors in my shooting direction, only occasional campers and some cattle. I have a 100 yard range about 8 feet wide through some dense aspen trees. I am shooting into a gently sloping soft dirt hill and at the butt end of the range I have a large pile of aspen logs to shoot into, 8' or so high and maybe 15' long and 20' deep. Something along these lines should serve you well.
     
  7. rbernie
    • Contributing Member

    rbernie Member

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    You will need a berm backstop for any handgun and rifle shooting. Earth berms are best; wood backstops get chewed up awfully fast and are not as ricochet-proof as a great big ol' pile of dirt.

    You should also likely contact your closest neighbors and let them know your intentions, so that they're not surprised by the gunfire.
     
  8. mcdonl

    mcdonl Member

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    +1 to what rbernie said....

    It is just safe and prudent to KNOW where your bullet went. That is what a backstop is for.
    .
     
  9. MyDogNelson

    MyDogNelson Member

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    Thanks all for such good advice. The land is very flat so to be safe I'll design a range with targets at various intervals but with the last one against a tall dirt berm. As for hunting, I'll probably need a stand so my shots will be pointed down at the ground.

    Hungry Seagull, you mentioned the possibility of neighbors complaining. Although I don't want that to happen and will be sensitive about shooting too early or too late in the day, my guess is that if I'm shooting safely on my own property I'm within the law, right? This is in the country; it's definately not an urban setting.
     
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    You can add some features to minimize the noise when you build your berm. Plant some low busy trees like juniper or cedar along the sides and back. Hang some canvas tarps to the immediate sides of your shooting station or put up couple of berms. The whole idea is to muffle the sounds of your shooting to the point where only an unreasonably jumpy person would complain.
     
  11. john paul

    john paul Member

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    texas state law says if you have at least 10 acres you can shoot as you like. as long as you're not in the city limits. which direction from houston? i live up north myself.
     
  12. MattTheHat

    MattTheHat Member

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    My family ranch started as a 100 acre tract, shaped exactly like a capital T. I've been shooting there for over 25 years without any sort of embankment, and so far without incident. I have two neighbors within a few hundred yards, but I'm generally shooting in the opposite direction and into the woods. The land is about half old pasture land with a few trees peppered here and there and the other half is heavily wooded creek bottoms.

    Several hundred additional acres have been purchased over the years that border the original tract, but mostly up towards where the neighbors live. So that same T-shaped tract is where I do probably 85% of my shooting. A lot of shooting. As in many thousands of rounds per year. Probably half hand gun (.32ACP, .380ACP, 7.62x25mm, 9mm, .40 S&W, 10mm, and .45ACP), and half long gun (.22LR, .22 Mag, .223, 30/30, .357 Mag, .454 Casull, 30-06, and 12 gauge). Again, never a single problem that I'm aware of within that time.

    I'd say shooting in a direction where you know is not inhabited, you should be fine.

    YMMV,


    -Matt
     
  13. ReadyRob

    ReadyRob Member

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    It doesn't sound like you are in city limits. I don't know of city that allows shooting within. Check your county laws to avoid trouble later. The District Attorney or legal department of county (whatever they call themselves) should be able to help you w/a phone call.

    The idea of you (or hiring) someone to come in and move some dirt sounds like a great idea. They could rough it in in a day easy. What fun that would be! Design your own shooting range.
     
  14. MyDogNelson

    MyDogNelson Member

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    "which direction from houston? i live up north myself."

    John Paul, the property is just inside the east side of the Waller County line and is approximately 5 miles west of Magnolia. If you live close enough, grab your guns and come on over. Seriously...
     
  15. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    Definitely go with the berm. I can't see how there could be any downside to increasing safety.

    Man, I wish I had 130 acres just outside of Houston!
     
  16. bhk

    bhk Member

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    If you are building your berm behind the furthest set of targets, be sure the trajectory of the rounds you shoot at your close targets does't let them hit the ground in front of the berm instead of the berm itself. These bullets will then often ricochet off the ground and go OVER the berm (and possibly your trees). Shooting slow pistol bullets at 25 yard targets set 125 yards in front of a berm 150 away can really be dangerous unless you really be sure you place the close targets high enough. A safer way is to build a close berm for handguns and a far one for rifles.
     
  17. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    I have a place about the same size, 100 acres. I've used it for hunitng and other kinds of shooting since it belonged to my grandfather when I was a kid.

    One thing to look into is grant money for construction of water holding ponds, we called them "tanks" in West Texas.

    The dams for those make excellent berms, and if you can get some kind of farm subsidies to pay for part of it, even better.

    We'd even get them stocked with freshwater fish every few years through a state program for a very low cost, though it hasn't rained enough in the last few years for me to bother with that one anymore :(

    Win win all the way around.
     
  18. flocker

    flocker Member

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    I was shooting at a slight down hill with a slight up hill on the other side, all open and rolling hills. I could see the entire back ground. (All my property so no one SHOULD be there but you never know.) Just as your woods No one Should be there but.

    Now a local farmer has planted that area I shoot into a side of a burm.
     
  19. mg.mikael

    mg.mikael Member

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    Congrats on the new property purchase and future home. :)
     
  20. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Member

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    My folks in Morgan Hill, California, have neighbors across the street with about 10 acres. I hear shotguns going off every now and then. I figure they have a range on their property. I'm not sure if it's legal, but I'm not calling them on it. I'd like to be invited to shoot. Other neighbors don't complain because it's country living. Again, this is California I'm talking about here.
     
  21. gbw

    gbw Member

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    Here's my range, on 25 acres out behind my house. The backstop was built with a dozer, average 10' tall. After Hurricane Katrina scrap wood was cheap(free!) and plentiful. I love having the wood wall, makes attaching gongs, targets, whatever so much easier. It is 8' high and each section 4' wide. Entrie cost was around $3000 to build. It has water and power, range is 75 yards long although as you can see I can shoot longer range if desired.

    I've spent many peaceful relaxing afternoons down there.

    [​IMG]
     
  22. rondog

    rondog Member

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    First make sure you're not within any city/town limits where discharging a firearm might bring bad ju-ju down on you. The city limits where I live reaches far into the country, into areas that I would have thought were safe.

    Good luck to you, a large country property with my own range is my fondest dream!


    gbw - I'm sooooo jealous!
     
  23. DRZinn

    DRZinn Member

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    Those worn-in lanes between the shed and the targets are great to see!
     
  24. gbw

    gbw Member

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    Thanks. I have to re-build the wall (just 2 or 3 sections, and then only the centers) every year or so. Takes a day and $30 for planks. The gongs (4) are are 3/8" steel plate, fine for nearly any lead pistol bullets at any range, but a rifle .30 Ball rd. will penetrate them. You can hit them reliably from 80 yd. offhand with a good 1911 or revolver if you pay attention to business. Gizmo mounted on the front table is a machine rest (can't recall the name, but the new competitor to the Ransom). It works well, reduces average group size about 30% from hand held. Chronograph goes next to it. Nearest neighbor home is about 700' to NW, range fire direction is South, nothing that way for a couple miles. It's a nice toy to have.
     
  25. mooseracing

    mooseracing Member

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    I would just use common sense. What would you like your neighbor behind you, who could be shooting at you, to be using as a backstop.

    I only have 2 acres, then there is about a half mile of hay field behind me, a small woods then field.

    When I shoot my Pistol or Shotgun, I'm not shooting more than 20yds while standing and point at a target on the ground.

    When I get out the rifle, I lay on the ground, and shoot at targets maybe 50yds, that are also less than a foot high.

    I do it this way just to guarentee I won't have any that get to far.

    My nearrest neighbors are 1/4 mile on the east and west, South of me is on the other side of the block, about a mile.
     
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