View Full Version : your suggestions on making a private shooting range.

November 19, 2006, 16:54
I've been thinking of making a shooting range sometime
in the future at the farm. nothing real fancy, a covered
shooter area (2 or 3 shooters). what is the best practical
range lenght? 50, a 100 yrds? I will have a dirt burm, how high?
and how deep? any pics or input from experiance would be appreciated. I
might be able to allocate 1.5k to it for material's, like I said 'nuting fancy.

Edit to add: pistol and rifle will both be used.



November 19, 2006, 17:59
My actual range is 100 yds but when my wife is gone it is 300 yards as I shoot from the house. I had to put a steep angle on the roof to block the SW sun - as late afternoon was when I shot the most. I don't use it nearly as much as I did say 10 years ago. The metal roof makes the shed very loud. It is open on all 4 sides and is simply a roof structure on 4 cedar poles set in concrete.

My berm is 12' and is about 40 yards behind the 100 yard mark. I put hanging armor on the berm for the 300 yard stuff. Every time I have to move it I mess up my back.

I have 2 small berms off the sides for 25 yd and 50 yd rifle.
Target frames are now expired real estate signs. Nicer stuff get blown to shit by stray rounds and people not looking at what is behind their target.

To shoot 300 yds I've got to fire cross the ridgeline of the shooting shed's roof.
Whenever I'm firing something that says Century on it, I jerk with closed eyes and put one through the roof.

Let's see....I laid about 16 yards of 3"minus for the 100 yd stuff as the mud here sucks if it ever rains. I does get sloppy in the winter, too.

I meant to pour a slab for prone stc but never got to it.

Visitors, even good people visitors, don't seem to get the picture that it is not cool to shoot up my trees as backstops. Also, any supplies I leave there seem to be used. That is okay, except when stuff gets finished off and there is none for me.

I have another mini-range next to the house for testing projects, pistol plinking and archery. That only has a 4-5' berm. Occassionally, I'll wing an arrow over the berm, but have not had problem with bullets. This has 1 stationary armor and some rotating pistol poppers. I U-shaped the berm because of the armor stuff and I used to have my bulk gasoline fairly close.

Hope this helps. I would suggest you only make one shooting position and share it while your weapons cool down.

Timber Wolf
November 19, 2006, 18:14
I have no experience building one but have given it some thought. The best home ranges I have seen had a natural backstop. They were in a ravine, gully, or valley of some sort. My brother's boss used a "borrow pit" a trench cut into the ground from which dirt is taken ("borrowed") for other purposes. It happened to have a large dirt pile at the business end to help out. Not very long though.

My idea would be to invest in a trench, depending on your ground water level. Also, I like to shoot slighty down grade when at an impromptu range. This insures if nothing else the rounds go into the ground and reduces the need for a huge back stop. To that end I suggest digging a long (100 yards prefered) trench that is slightly deeper on the down range end and put the dirt up and slightly around the end. Sometimes a dozer man can be found pretty cheap if you get lucky.

My buddy and his brother just a couple of weeks ago had a guy come in and work several hours pushing trees and general clearing of a house site and food plots on their place and it was less then $500 total. A lot of work was accomplished for $500 I assure you. Another option is renting a backhoe for a long weekend. I borrowed one to dig the basement on my first house several years ago on a Memorial day weekend. Went and got it Friday evening and took it back Monday afternoon. You can dig a lot in 2-3 days.

November 19, 2006, 18:21
Thanks lutefisk,

I was thinking of something like what you said,
ceder poles set in concrete. I will pour a slab to
stand on (8x16), and have a bench. The shelter will be
facing the east. I'm looking at placing it near the
foot of one hill and facing another hill, which is
about 3-400 yrds away, a small creek runs thru this flat.
So tell me more about your berm, clean dirt? depth?
The soil around this part of tenn. is about pure rock on the hills.
the flats have good soil.

November 19, 2006, 19:12

It will for sure be some dozer work,
I'll probably have to get the dirt
trucked in, Alot of rock here. That
is where most of the cost will be.
Can someone post some pics of
different types of shooting tables
I have seen some made of block with
cement tops that looked simple and

November 19, 2006, 19:37
My range has a natural berm that is in a semi circle about 50 yards in diameter. At 25 yards I can shoot pistol in any direction as long as I don't break the 180. The way my property is set up I can only go back to 100 yards. There is a natural and gradual slope down to the berm.

For my main target stand I used a couple old light poles. 12 foot lengths, burried about 5 foot in the ground and about 12 feet apart. Ran a couple 12' 2x4s to tie the posts together (4' from bottom 2x4 to the top 2x4). This allows me to use 1 and 1/2 sheets of plywood for the backer. Lots of portable stands are used as well to simulate IDPA.

I built a table to keep in the pistol area to use as a rest, or just to put ammo and extra pistols on. At the 100 yard line, I built a wooden rifle table. It's ok, but its really too light. I need to pour a concrete top for it to give it enough weight to make it more stable. I only have about $50-100 in materials.

November 19, 2006, 20:33
Oh seller of fake arrowheads,
One project I wanted to try and never did is a cast concrete table. Here's what I was thinking:
10" sonotube buried 2.5-3' with vertical rebar out top. After it hardens, bend the rebar to 90 degrees and form a plywood box as a form. Add temp drop legs to support it as the mud hardens. I thought of using fibermesh in the concrete but honestly don't know if that was a good idea or not.

I'm now using a desk and don't like it...it's too low and I like to have the bench wrap around my girlish figure.

Previously, I had a solid core door on top of good sawhorses(I built them). This also had a sled as well as an assortment of bags and other rests. Then I needed the sawhorses...thus, the desk. Then the guy that made the sled for the range moved to Alaska and repo'd it.

Oh yeah, I tried the depressed range idea (made my backstop 15'). The mud became a real problem and it kept drinking the gravel. The berm is huge and thick. I made it with my backhoe so the primary strike area is probably 12-20' thick. It has to be that way because of the ramp necessary to use the front loader. It was pretty ironic that a coyote made a den in the backside of the berm. Throwing seed on it is an interesting idea...maybe some nice tulips:D :D :D I could see those nice red blobs from a long way out. It'd be one heck of a shot from 300 yards.

November 19, 2006, 23:13
Know you don't want to spend this kind of money, but check out the pictures & copy some ideas down.

Fancy Creek Range, Randoph KS (http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=141636)

It's basically a huge bunker. We used the same principle on the farm to store chopped corn (silage) to feed the cows. This one was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in a state park. There are about 25 shooting positions, length is 100 yards. There's also a 25 yard pistol range there too.

The targets can be set at 50 or 100 yards at the rifle range. Top of the berm I'm guessing is about 25-30 feet. Don't know how deep it is, but I'm guessing it's at least that wide at the top, double that at the base.

Check out the photo's & get some ideas. It's one of the best ranges I've been at in a long time, even if it's only 100 yards. If I were to put one on the farm, I could get 800 yards in one area (in the middle of a pasture), but wouldn't be able to run cows there then.

Downhill shooting is ok, but the bullets could bounce. Most long range ranges I've seen (photo's only) shoot slightly uphill with a berm at the end.

Good luck on your design.

November 20, 2006, 07:08
Originally posted by lutefisk
Oh seller of fake arrowheads,

Now, Now, I've never sold one of my flint blades,
I really end up giving them away :D honestly.

12'-20' thick for the berm, yup that is where I
get into $, I have to haul the dirt.

Survey Punk
November 20, 2006, 08:09
Face your range North. That way the sun will never be in your eyes.


November 20, 2006, 10:54
You might make a fill debris pile and then cover it with "clean fill only." If there is any development in your area, haulers might be looking for a dump spot.
I'd look for 8 -10 dump truck loads as a rough volume.

Or build a house with a basement and recycle the dirt into your project...see, it's free! Oh yeah, don't forget the underground range through 48 " culvert from your basement.

November 20, 2006, 22:32
At my home range I use large round haybales for a backstop. The ground behind it slopes up in the woods about 40 yds behind them and rises up about 5 ft above the level of the shooting benches. The rounds hold up very well- I need to replace a couple of them but after 2 years of shooting into them nothing is going out the back yet. They're settling.
For target stands I planted 1 3/4" PVC sections into the ground 3 feet apart and use 1x2s to make cheap target stands. Free cardboard inside the open sqare of the stand. The wood costs about $2 for each stand. I have the PVC at 25ft, 25yds, 50 yds and 100.

November 20, 2006, 23:30
The backstop content and construction depend on how close to it you want to shoot from and how great of a danger fan or area you can have. The NRA has information on range construction. Also a internet search will bring up some good info, there is an interesting one on BMP of ranges by the EPA, it has a lot of information to give you a lot of ideas, ie clean fill/soil does not need to make up the entire backstop. The caliber and energy of the firearms that you use or may use make a big diffrence. The .50 bmg ball round has much more energy that you have to deal with compared to a .308 win. So there are some variables. Used tires are good bullet stoppers and they are often no cost other than going to get them. Then fill them with rocks, I think the Army looks for 2" in some applications. Then a couple feet min of sand infront to keep any bounce back from getting out is a possible option. Do'nt forget some side berms. Have fun, let us know what you come up with.

November 21, 2006, 02:53
the nra has a large expensive book on the subject. it can also be used as a sleeping aid.

November 21, 2006, 11:29
I'd make the range as long as possible. You can always place the targets closer, if you need or want to.

November 21, 2006, 20:17
If I can remember I'll take some pics of the
site this weekend. Keep the suggestions coming,
I'm sure other folks can/will benefit from the ideas.

November 21, 2006, 23:23
Originally posted by flint_knapper

12'-20' thick for the berm, yup that is where I
get into $, I have to haul the dirt.

Overkill. A lot of folks would be disappointed if they saw how little penetration a 7.62 achieves in a dirt pile.

November 22, 2006, 05:38
Originally posted by hedp

Overkill. A lot of folks would be disappointed if they saw how little penetration a 7.62 achieves in a dirt pile.

Well, how thick should it be? keep in mind 7.62 is not the
only round that will be fired, 45/70 and such will be used also.

November 22, 2006, 17:54
LOL at fry's comment! I have that book..paid the price and got LOTSA sleep;)


Use all the ideas posted! Long trench, hi-sides, fill and scoop for back stop, truck tires filled with stone/soil for sharp angles and corners.

IUt's not the penetration of one or two rounds that ya gotta worry about. It's the massive crater from intense, localized, repeated firing that will result in a section of berm giving way to daylight beyond! :eek:

We had it happen at our first range. A fella was doing sub-gun instruction and after 'bout 10 guys w/FA 9mm's went at at it for an hour or so; they carved a section out of the 100 meter berm and launched way too many rounds out of bounds. It took the top 3 or 4 feet off of a 6 foot thick (at the base of the divot) berm. Granted, it was a twilight shoot for nite familiarization; so they didn't know they had "holed" it 'till they saw tracer wafting off range!

I'd add overhead baffles and protectors to the "trench"; ala NRA Range manual.

If ya want any specific data/dwgs, lemme know!

November 22, 2006, 20:22
Originally posted by Deltaten

IUt's not the penetration of one or two rounds that ya gotta worry about. It's the massive crater from intense, localized, repeated firing that will result in a section of berm giving way to daylight beyond! :eek:


I hadn't considered that, although everyone's needs are gonna be different. My own range backstop won't see one full auto, let alone ten, probably ever. It just gets five or six thousand rounds annually of everything up to .300 Ultra. But I'm lucky, can use a tractor with front end loader to rework it anytime and access to plenty of dirt.
Damn, all this is gonna have me out on the tractor in the next couple days beefing things up. "Mr President, we cannot allow a backstop gap.":rofl:

November 22, 2006, 20:36
LAFAL, I thought of that too, but the wardens around here would wonder why I'd want those bales of prime alfalfa!!!!!!!!! Maybe have a gin pole right next to them to make the loading max efficient.

November 22, 2006, 21:23
im glad someone gets it.

in process of applying for grading permits.

November 28, 2006, 09:32
how high should the berm be? Mind you I mostly shoot off a bench, maybe a thousand rounds a year total for me and my buds. I will probably replace the haybales this winter (range closes for deer season except for smallbore) but if it's cheaper to do dirt then I will throw up a berm. How High and thick would you recommend? Thanks.