Build-my-own Firing Range help

Mountaingoat61

New member
Hi all,

I'm new to the group and think this is awesome. I live on a 5-acre property with a 44x84 pole barn that I want to set up a firing range in, mainly for handguns. This would be for personal use plus a few friends, not for general public use. I live outside city limits and am currently checking on what county requires so those bases are covered. What I mainly need is any input regarding inexpensive materials to use for the backdrop. I've read other forums and most discuss outdoor ranges which won't work for my location. I really don't want to bring in a few tons of dirt to use either. I know there are commercial materials/backdrops etc as well but my budget is limited. I have 2 one-ton bales of hay but I'm not sure about the stability of that, especially after a few hundred rounds have started to break the hay down.

Any suggestions about backdrop materials is appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
 

Good luck with your venture, I have little real information to help however remember how important it is to have sufficient ventilation in an indoor range. Gunfire creates many nasty gases and other dangerous emmissions which need to be adequately exhausted to keep from slowly killing yourself.

If it is cold outside, you may decide to close up the doors and find you have far less than sufficient natural airflow to do the job so be certain you figure the requirements equipment and installation of ventilation in your project.
 
Yes, ventilation and sound insulation are both factors as well as ricochet protection. I do have neighbors about 100 yards away. I just talked to the sheriff's department and what I want to do is legal, I just have to minimize noise so I don't generate complaints. I am proficient in carpentry so I can basically frame in an enclosed area inside the barn, insulate it well, then put the backstop at the other end. Doesn't look like it's going to be a low-budget venture to do it right. :-) But it would pay for itself after a couple years considering what gun clubs charge to use their facilities. Keep shooting!
 
The expense and complexity coincide with how much time you wish to spend maintaining your back drop. Something as simple and inexpensive (initially anyway) as a couple of rows of 1" OSB sub-flooring would be sufficient to stop handgun bullets. (I sometimes find them lodged in the first sheet of OSB.) Of course, this would require you to periodically replace the OSB and clean up a mess of wood chips.

Also, obviously if you plan on shooting a rifle, you'll need to significantly beef up the layers of OSB.
 
utimmer43: Yes, I thought about just using layers of wood. This would not be a rifle range, handgun only but up to 45auto so it still needs to be substantial. OSB is cheap so replacing it every once in awhile wouldnt be a big deal. I'm setup for framing, tools and all and they're even stored in the barn. Gears are whirring.....
 
Out of curiosity, where are you located? I've heard that old tires are good for that, but i think you would need lots of them.
 
utimmer43: Yes, I thought about just using layers of wood. This would not be a rifle range, handgun only but up to 45auto so it still needs to be substantial. OSB is cheap so replacing it every once in awhile wouldnt be a big deal. I'm setup for framing, tools and all and they're even stored in the barn. Gears are whirring.....
I'm picturing some sort of rack that would enable you to easily cycle the layers of OSB. IOW, once the front layer is getting pretty chewed up, you pull it out, move each sheet forward one position, and add a new one to the back. I sometimes find .357 sig FMJ rounds lodged in the first layer, so 2 or 3 layers would probably suffice. Just for overkill sake make it 6 layers (with 2" between each layer) and you're good to go. If a 4' x 8' area is smaller than you want, be sure to alternate the seams so that they don't line up.

Hmm, I hadn't even considered doing this myself, but now my gears are turning. :wacko:

Make sure you post some pictures when it's finished.
 
To get started, you can contact the NRA. That had some folks that would give info and assistance for opening and building public ranges. Don't know about personal range though.
 
I just talked to a friend of mine who did this a while back. He went to warehouses and big stores like Wal Mart and got as many pallets as he could find. He also went to junkyards and tire shops and got old tires. He cut the tires in half (like you would if you wanted to line your driveway:sarcastic:) and stacked them between layers of pallets that were turned on their sides. He said it ended up being about eight feet deep, and held up pretty well.

I would think if it's the back of the barn for the backdrop, you could start piling dirt and broken cinder blocks and such behind it for just a little more support to keep anything from going out.

Too bad you're on the other side of the country. I'm free this weekend!!
 
I like the rack idea. I would probably put a layer of 1/4 steel or something equal in strength as the final layer.
Another idea kicking in my head is to acquire an old semi trailer as the range itself with a backstop at the front end. Gears are still smokin. :-)
 
Out of curiosity, where are you located? I've heard that old tires are good for that, but i think you would need lots of them.

There was a range around here that tried that. It was a mess. bullets bouncing everywhere. The steel belts in the tires along with the elastic rubber didn't perform like they thought it would.

Gun club nearby put up a backstop made of railroad ties for shooting shotgun slugs for a fundraiser bull’s-eye competition. They did an alternate stacking two rows thick of ties with dirt behind. It was solid and nothing got through it. After the event, it was left as a short range backstop for general shooting.
 
Thanks for the replies, everyone. Gears are still turning, looks like this won't be low-budget to do it right. I'll repost if I come up with a definite plan. Thanks again.
 
What part of north Idaho? If your up in the boundary county area the local outdoor range is only 10.00 a year for a membership and 25.00 for indoor, but indoor is only open a few hours a week.
 
Sandbags, several feet thick and as tall as the walls. Hay bales, wood planks, sound good for about a week. Forty years ago I built a basement 25 foot range. There were 4 layers of railroad ties in front of a concrete block wall. After shooting a month or so, I decided to look behind the ties. Most of the shooting was either .22 LR and some handload testing.
There was a large hole through all 4 ties and the concrete blocks and about 2 feet into the clay outside the basement.

Make sure you know who and what is outside the building when you're shooting.
 
After shooting a month or so, I decided to look behind the ties. Most of the shooting was either .22 LR and some handload testing. There was a large hole through all 4 ties and the concrete blocks and about 2 feet into the clay outside the basement.
Good grief! How much ammo do you burn through in a month?
 
I'm in Kootenai County. We have the CdA Gun Club which is pretty cheap for NRA members and not that much more for non-NRA. I just want to be able to go out in the barn and plunk off a few rounds... which I did today. :0) I have 2 huge 1-ton hay bales, one behind the other and they stopped the bullets just fine. Not that I'll make a habit out of it but worked for now. My 15yr old daughter did awesome, especially 1st time shooting. Even hit a bullseye at 15ft. And I didn't draw any complaints from the neighbors. My wife couldn't hear the shots from inside the house so that was good. Scared the $h!* out of the horses outside though. :-)
 

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