Building a safe gun range on your property doesn’t usually take much time or money, but deciding if you should build one and how to do it takes some consideration and, perhaps, conversation.
Proximity to neighbors
“There are a lot of things to think about,” says Troy, a shooting instructor and member of Silent Hill Farms. “Talk to your neighbors first. How much annoyance are you going to be for them? If you’re shooting all the time, it’s going to affect their quality of life. It’s always good to keep your neighbors happy.
Size of property can vary
According to Troy, you don’t need a huge chunk of land to build your own shooting range.
“You can have a very small piece of property for a pistol range if you have the proper backstops,” Troy says. “You need a significant amount of land if you don’t have backstops to avoid hurting someone who might be passing by the firing line.”
Building a backstop
Building a backstop may not be necessary if your property has a significant hill on it.
“It depends on the lay of the land, and if you have hills,” Troy says. “I took my tractor and cut into the hillside and created a natural backstop. Some people use railroad ties to put sand down, and then another set of railroad ties. Some people use tires and fill them with dirt and sand to create a backstop.”
You don’t want to incorporate anything hard into your shooting range, unless it’s a walkway of some sort.
“Anytime you’re shooting into anything, you want it to be a soft surface that can absorb the bullet and not have it come out at you,” says Troy. “Hard surfaces ricochet. That’s why you see people using railroad ties and soil and sand and tires, because they’re soft.”
As far as how deep the backstop needs to be, it depends on the type of bullet you’re shooting.
“If it’s a hillside with almost infinite depth, you can shoot what you want to into it,” Troy explains. “If you just have earth that is mounded up, you need to keep it to a caliber that won’t penetrate through. Most handguns will not penetrate a backstop. But if you shoot a .50 caliber rifle, you can punch through that and more.”
‘It’s a perishable skill’
Shooting is “a perishable skill,” Troy reminds us, “and you have to practice.”
Remember to: Talk to your neighbors first. Assess your property: Is there going to be danger putting a shooting range on your property?
“Sometimes it is not feasible to be able to build yourself a shooting range,” Troy says, but if it is, build a sturdy and substantial backstop.