Setting up range on my property

Discussion in 'Rallying Point and Range Discussions' started by cdahl383, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. cdahl383

    cdahl383 Member

    Jun 2, 2020
    Recently purchased my first gun and quickly found that I love shooting! Currently I go over to my buddy’s house to shoot as he has a range on his property.

    We live on a 2.5 acre lot in a rural farm area. I was thinking of setting up a backstop in the back of our property so I could just shoot at home at my own leisure. My obvious concerns are safety of others in the area and where the bullets will end up.

    The way our property is situated, the back butts up against a huge farm field. If I were to shoot from one side of the yard diagonally to the center rear of the yard, there is nothing but farm field and trees for at least a full mile or so. I could probably set it up for 50 yards max.

    Has anyone else set up a range on their own property and if so, how did you set it up? Back stop, length in yards, proximity of others nearby.

    I am located in Michigan and would be shooting either a .22 rifle or 12 gauge shotgun (most likely bird shot or target loads etc).

    Thank you!


    Attached Files:

  2. DocRock

    DocRock Member

    Aug 19, 2019
    Colorado Springs
    Check local and county laws before moving ahead and ensure you are compliant.

    Also, if you have any tricky neighbors, consider how they might react to the shooting, which will be heard for quite a ways. You need a big berm as a backer. Logs covered by earth are probably best. If not logs, sand bags or tires covered in earth (exposed tires not a great idea). It's not just important that it be effective, it's also important that it look effective and like you put some real effort into it. In the event that some authority of some kind ever has to or wants to "look into it", an impressive well constructed berm/backstop will have been worth the effort. Enjoy.
    Hangingrock, jobu07 and cdahl383 like this.
  3. 748

    748 Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    clovis, NM
    I wouldn't. I could at my house but I only occasionally shoot suppressed rim fire and once in a great while I'll rip off 1 or two 5.56.
    I'll blame it on the neighbors if it ever comes up.
    Never set off energetic devices that could be thought of as something other than fireworks. I'm staying under the radar.
    But that's just me.
    cdahl383 likes this.
  4. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    I made one out of steel for the house, so I didn’t have to deal with erosion, mowing it and the fact that I can move it. It’s 8 ft tall and 16 feet wide, I shoot it mostly 100 yards or shorter distances.



    I recently built a smaller version of this as well that’s towed with a 4 wheeler.

  5. Charlie1022

    Charlie1022 Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Ohio City, Ohio
    I have 2 outdoor ranges and have RR ties and dirt berm on rimfire/handgun 50 yd. range and a large dirt bank on my 100 yd. range. Every few years when the power company is trimming trees in the area I let them dump the wood chips in front of my backstops and I use my front loader on my tractor to stack them up in front of the back stops. Works great to stop bullets and have never had any bounce back. Just spray and it hold the weeds down also and prevents erosion on thee banks also.
    Check your local laws before you do anything! Good luck and shoot safe!
    magyars4, cdahl383 and DocRock like this.
  6. drobs

    drobs Member

    Feb 15, 2017
    I shoot into the base of a hill. I have family in the Traverse City area of Michigan. I note that their soil is sandy - perfect for range construction.

    Some berm ideas for you:




    A large pile of sand makes for a great backstop. Dirt works as well.
  7. cdahl383

    cdahl383 Member

    Jun 2, 2020
    I like the railroad tie idea. Those can usually be had for pretty cheap. I need to check with my town first to see what the rules are. Might be a project for next year.
    Golfanaticshooter, magyars4 and drobs like this.
  8. Tortuga

    Tortuga Member

    Sep 9, 2020
    I envy you. This is my dream one day.
  9. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    1. Never rely on "farmland" being empty. Worked land will go from fallow to cropped out in just a year. The product being farmed may have vehicles on it at unpredictable times. It can also have livestock turned out on it unpredictably.

    2. Over-build the backstop. Local dirt is your friend. My recommendation is, always, for at least 12' of height. You can grow grass on a 40º slope--and grass will hold your berm in place. That does, somewhat, commit you to about 28' of berm base to get 12' tall.

    3. "U" shaped berms are also your friend.

    4. If possible, use a northern orientation for the berm--shooting into rising or setting sun or with midday glare behind the targets is less than convenient.

    5. When cutting dirt to make your berm, take it from the "middle." That gives you drainage away from the shooting spot, and away from the berm (placing targets while standing in water is under-fun).

    6. No one will approve of your set-up. Half will tell you it's overkill, and half will tell you it's woefully deficient. (And both of those groups will happy shoot up your range anyway.)

    Now, 2.5 acres is a small patch for a rifle-length range; but it's a ton of area to keep mowed. Nice fat berm can cut down on the mowing. Which lets a person turn it into a plus.
  10. The Happy Kaboomer

    The Happy Kaboomer Member

    Dec 16, 2012
    I built a skeet field and a rifle pistol range on my property. Much fun and available 24/7. I have neighbors(both 1/4 mile away) and I told them both when they move that shooting was my sport so get used to gun fire.

    Attached Files:

    Chuck R. likes this.
  11. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Leavenworth, KS
    I was lucky and bought 80 acres with a "valley", so for my long stuff I shoot from higher elevation to lower with a hill for a backstop. My closest neighbor is 1/4 mile away and my newest neighbor is a sheriffs deputy whos going to build his own range once my closest neighbor gets his cows off his land....

    I have from 30yds to 760yds depending on firing position. I dug into one hill and graveled in the 30x30 yd pistol range that one backstop serves for 30-200yds. The other backstops (3) are dirt I moved/pushed up for sets of swingers. When we had our 2nd pond dug, I used a bunch of that dirt for backstops, not so much for safety due to the slope, but so I can see the misses. For some of the stuff we practice I'll run 5 or 6 rifle plates up the hill so we can work multiple tgts (rifle) at different distances.

    A suitable backstop is EVERYTHING, when it comes to home range construction. As one of my construction guys said "dirt is cheap, but getting it here that's going to cost you" at about $250-300 for 26tons, it adds up IF you have to truck it in. Obligatory range pics:

    Pistol range:



    200-300 rifle (shares backstop with pistol range)


    Out to 760 on my M32A1 Mobile "Sniper" Platform (I own to the horizon):

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020 at 11:45 AM
    drobs and Frulk like this.
  12. film495

    film495 Member

    Aug 26, 2019
    been thinking about it on a similar sized lot for 8 years and have not done it. have other places to shoot - and the time/expense and possible liability has kept me from really doing it. that open space, is almost nothing in terms of safety, better than a house, but not much ... what is beyond it? the challenge is a bullet that skips hitting a backstop and goes up at a 30 degree angle, where does that bullet go and how do you contain it?
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