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Old March 23, 2010, 08:12 AM   #1
jantman
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Home range backstop construction

My father just bought a wooded plot in rural NJ (yes, such a place still exists). The back of the property has a deep creek bed, and on the other side is a fairly tall (but not too steep - gradual climb) hill that forms the far boundary of a private game reservation. We're planning on building a handgun range for occasional shooting.

I was able to find a perfect spot - a strip about 150' long by 30' wide, with only a few trees that I can easily take down. The problem is that all the areas around it are too heavily wooded to get a bucket in to where we want the backstop, so a berm is out - we're pretty much limited to materials that can be pulled in by a quad.

Any ideas for a relatively safe backstop for handgun shooting (primarily .22 subsonic, but we'll probably want to pull out the 9mm or .45 at some point)? I don't want to put for one of the bullet traps for the .22, as I'd still need something behind it that's pretty heavy.

Thanks for any tips!
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Old March 23, 2010, 11:03 AM   #2
Don H
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Have you checked the county/other jurisdiction laws and ordinances to verify that what you propose is legal?

If you were to miss both the target and the backstop (think double-taps gone wild!) would the bullet endanger someone who is not on your property or who has inadvertantly wandered onto your property if it is not fenced or posted?
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Old March 23, 2010, 12:19 PM   #3
jantman
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Aside from noise ordinances (weekend mornings, or after 8-6) there aren't any legal issues. There shouldn't be any neighbor issues either, as both of them shoot in their yards.

Property is posted all around at 25' intervals. Straight back (following the line the range would take) on the other side of the hill, it's unused woods for about two miles.
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Old March 23, 2010, 12:41 PM   #4
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We are currently considering some changes at one of our private ranges. The one in question, is under the control of a conservation organization. We do have berms but some railroad ties as the primary stop that allows for stapling of targets. The ties have gotten pretty shot up as well as the verticle supports. A freind of mine, in another location has erected a berm made of old stacked tire, hand filled with dirt. States that his group is quite satified with this as maitenance has been reduced. We are in the process of getting some details as to construction, pros and cons. I do know that old tires are being used either whole, layered or shreaded. Might want to look into this yourself.



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Old March 23, 2010, 02:58 PM   #5
Vt.birdhunter
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Assuming your within your legal rights as mentioned, sand and wood are generally safe backstops. Sand pits shored by cut logs or railroad ties are safe and will permit you to sieve out the lead once a year or so.

I cannot express how detrimental dedicated shooting ranges can become to their environments when pounds of lead are allowed to concentrate and leach.

In addition to contaminating surface soils, surface water and wild food sources, you can contaminate your own drinking water if you are well supplied. Every year the permissible lead levels in drinking water drop.

Granted, we are talking about a WHOLE LOTTA shooting to need to worry about things like this, but all ranges around here are required to reclaim lead from their property.

Next time you feel the weight of a box of ammo in your hand, question where all that lead is going.
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Old March 23, 2010, 03:18 PM   #6
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It has been said that a good idea only last as long it takes someone to talk you out of it. .....

At one of our ranges, the EPA's primary concern was the close proximity to a water source such as a river, stream or ditch, that ran off rain water. Also stated that it only takes 7 to 8 feet of sandy soil to filter out any contaminates. We also hand-mine the lead out of our berms and have heard of large ranges that routinely contract companies to mine theirs. Lead does come out of the ground. It was not stated but perhaps it would be a good idea to do some homework yourself, on this subject. I know this subject has been kicked around for some time now. !! ...


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Old March 23, 2010, 03:37 PM   #7
Vt.birdhunter
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Quote:
Also stated that it only takes 7 to 8 feet of sandy soil to filter out any contaminates.
Not true for any of the metals including lead. Not true for almost any contaminates (some hydrocarbons can be filtered with absorbent sand.) Sand and other soils can hold or sequester lead, but only until more lead trickles down from above or until the sequestered lead is dissolved in solution. As soon as rain below a pH of 7 hits lead (the norm around here), it begins to dissolve and travel. It will continue to travel until in accumulates (usually in an aquifer), concentrates and precipitates out as salts.

To prevent the leaching of lead, soils must be sieved (like scooping turds out of kitty litter) or heavily titrated with lime and other pH raising chemicals to ensure the lead cant dissolve and leach.

BTW Clay type soils can hold or sequester concentrations of lead and other contaminates 1000 times greater than sands due to the tremendous surface area and cohesion effect of clay particles.

Last edited by Vt.birdhunter; March 23, 2010 at 03:48 PM.
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Old March 23, 2010, 03:49 PM   #8
1911rocks
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Backstop

I got this idea from a range in Arizona. Old tires arranged like below

O O O O O O O O
O O O O O O O

OK, not exactly, the rows are offset by 50% and the tires touch each other. I then filled the tires with earth, sand would work too. I paid nothing for my old tires. I just had to haul them away. I went 30' across and 6' high. It's nice because you can fill a layer at a time. You can staple targets directly to the tires. The other upside is you can do this all with hand tools, yeah it's slower but, the upper back arms and core get a great work out. Subsonic 22s usually just embed in the rubber. Even 338 Lapua only penetrates about 8" into the dirt in the first row. We used earth behind the last row, however, my son used RR ties.
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Old April 1, 2010, 10:23 PM   #9
kilimanjaro
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Bullets will bounce off old tires, and you'll eventually have to dispose of them, you are not the only person who will ever own your property, treat it right. You can use the downed trees and build a proper back stop with logs and tamped earth. Put filter cloth at the bottom to keep the dirt in.

Make sure the entire shooting face is on your property and plant some trees to the sides of the range to keep the noise down.
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Old April 2, 2010, 03:10 PM   #10
1911rocks
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Lead Contamination

Kilimanjaro makes a very good point. I live on a +400 acre farm that has been in my family 5 generations. My situation is an outlier for sure. Kilimanjaro's comment forced me out of the box. As a matter of fact, it prompted a conversation with a family friend who is a realtor. She informed me about a form that is required in this state that has to do with EPA type concerns, for which the seller is responsible. One of the questions has to do with heavy metals and soil contamination. The seller is responsible for remediation of the pollution. Ahh!!! Now do I foresee ever selling my place, obviously no. However, might this happen, absolutely!! So, much to my wifes dismay, I've contacted Meggitt Systems to discuss and provide a Reclining backstop to replace the earth, tire, and wood back stop. Surprisingly, it's not terribly expensive. Kilimanjaro, thanks for the nudge!!
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Old April 3, 2010, 10:21 AM   #11
mwar410
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old tires?

I heard of clubs in Mass. that spent alot of money removing tires from the berms, thanks to the DEP
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Old April 3, 2010, 10:47 AM   #12
"JJ"
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Soil contaminates?

I watched a program on the History channel a while back on the Civil War. They dug up some lead & inspected the soil. They found it had leached out to a distance of 1/4 of an inch!
I did a little research on lead leaching online & found a study by Virginia Tech.
Highlight from the article:
There were 20 million metric tons of lead bullets fired in the United States in the 20th century. Is that lead having an environmental impact?
Not at or near the U.S. Forest Service firing range near Blacksburg, Va., according to research by Virginia Tech geological scientists.

"We were invited by the U.S. Forest Service to look at the shooting range in the National Forest near Blacksburg."

The researchers' survey found 11 metric tons of shot in the shotgun range and 12 metric tons of lead bullets in the rifle range. "These ranges are 10 years old. Most of the lead shot has accumulated on about four or five acres. Some shots have been into the woods, which cover hundreds of acres," Rimstidt said.
Professor James Craig, now retired, and Rimstidt looked first at lead corrosion and whether lead is leaching into the water table or streams. "Lead metal is unstable when it is in contact with air and water. It corrodes and forms hydrocerrussite, the white coating seen on old bullets in museums. That slows corrosion," Rimstidt said.
However some lead escapes, he said. "But we learned that it is absorbed in the top few inches of soil and does not migrate beyond that," Rimstidt said. "Lead is not very mobile. It does not wash away in surface or ground water."


I think the deteriorating rubber from the tires will cause more contamination than the bullets!
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Old April 8, 2010, 01:01 PM   #13
Enoy21
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Nice find !!!! I am planning on going to the Blacksburg range sometime in the next week or so to avoid heading all the way out to 311 Potts mountain Range. I hope this means it's not overly crowded lol .


Although I've considered joining a local club there in Elliston/Shawsville area.
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Old April 10, 2010, 12:35 AM   #14
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Lead is not super-valuable, but it is worth money.

An outdoor range I visit recently had a company come out and "clean" up the berm area by removing the lead. There was no charge. The company, was able to pay for their labor and make a profit by selling the lead they recovered.
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Old April 12, 2010, 12:28 PM   #15
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Or you could dig up the lead yourself and use it for casting bullets if you reload.
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Old May 27, 2010, 11:39 AM   #16
wayneinFL
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Some good information on range construction.

http://www.rangeinfo.org/resource_li...fles_berms.htm
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Old May 27, 2010, 09:36 PM   #17
treg
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Call a local excavator and have them dump a ten yard load of sand where you want to shoot. Cheap and done.
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Old May 27, 2010, 11:40 PM   #18
zippy13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The OP
I don't want to put for one of the bullet traps for the .22
Humm… it might not be such a bad idea, after all.

treg,
The OP mentioned that he doesn't have equipment access due to the existing woods.
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Old May 28, 2010, 12:00 PM   #19
CPTMurdoc30
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As the studies have showed lead doesn't leach like other metals into the surrounding soils or water. It can if it is disturbed IE shoot all summer long then plow the field and plant a crop then plow again at spring and shoot more. That may have an impact. For just shooting into a berm it will do very little harm to the environment on a whole.

If you are wanting dirt. Put out a sign that says you need fill dirt. Many construction sites end up over on the amount of dirt they need on site to build so they have to get rid of it some how. I would also go around to construction sites around your area and stop by the head shed and ask if they have extra dirt they need to get rid of? When I ran Track hoes We would use our own truck to haul excesses dirt off to other site where people needed at no charge.
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Old May 31, 2010, 07:37 PM   #20
langenc
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""I cannot express how detrimental dedicated shooting ranges can become to their environments when pounds of lead are allowed to concentrate and leach"" from post #5

"However some lead escapes, he said. "But we learned that it is absorbed in the top few inches of soil and does not migrate beyond that," Rimstidt said. "Lead is not very mobile. It does not wash away in surface or ground water." from post #12

Which is fact-which is fiction???

Very different 'ideas'..

Last edited by langenc; May 31, 2010 at 07:42 PM.
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Old June 7, 2010, 10:01 AM   #21
WATYF
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Yeah, I'm kinda confused too. One person says it's a major health hazard and another says that tons of lead isn't even a problem. Which is it, and where would I find that out for certain?

I need to figure out what to use for a backstop on my property. I have about 65 acres in a hilly area of Missouri. There are plenty of slopes and what not, so finding a "backstop" is really easy. I currently use an area in a small valley on the property and since the land slopes upward down range, I shoot straight into the ground. But I need to know if this will be a problem long term? There are a couple of springs off to the left of the range. Do I need to be worried about seepage? Should I even be shooting into the ground? Should I make my own mound of dirt instead? Is there a way to remove the lead that I've already shot?

Thanks for any help on the matter.

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Old June 7, 2010, 01:42 PM   #22
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Well... Lots of opinions floating around about the health hazards of lead in dirt... I don't really have ahuge opinion, just a few questions to ask.

- Doesn't lead come from the ground naturally?
- Didn't the tree-huggers make us switch from lead to steel-shot for duck hunting because lead was damaging to wetlands?
- Didn't hunters groups protest this saying that the impact was negligible?
- Don't we wear gloves when handling lead for reloading?

Makes you wonder who's right and who's wrong...

One thing you could do is build a trench around your berm... At least you could keep the alleged contaminants contained to one area...
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Old June 7, 2010, 08:30 PM   #23
TOM RENZO
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Aside from noise ordinances (weekend mornings, or after 8-6) there aren't any legal issues. There shouldn't be any neighbor issues either, as both of them shoot in their yards.


Well you have tremendous liability even if you post and do everything by the book. I own a very big piece of property and used to shoot all the time on it. I have no neighbors for miles around and thought i was safe. But one day while i was shooting a boyscout troop wondered onto my property passed all the shooting in progress signs no trespassing signs and verbal confrontation from me fell on Deaf EARS. Bottom line if anything happens YOU ARE SCREWED. You will have to carry special insurance if its even available in NJ. NJ is not a very friendly GUN state. I would advise against it. Also studies on lead desolving and polluting watter shead is kind of FALSE. Tests have shown that once it gets a coating it does not LEACH out. Example my MOM had a real old house years ago and the watter main in the house was made from lead PIPE. I drank the watter in that house for many many years. The old plumbers believed once it got coated it never leached out. This is a very difficult thing to decide. If for some reason you get a flyer and someone claims a hit you are SCREWED. I would pass on this unless you have lots of acres or live in a real isolated place. Its hard ot figure NJ is isolated but they do have big farms and stuff. Good luck and be careful Tom
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Old June 8, 2010, 08:12 AM   #24
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Living here in FL, the land is sandy soil mixed with some porous limestone - if there was ever a scenario where things might "migrate" into the soils, this is the place. A year ago, we had our shotgun club mined for lead reclamation. The miners scraped off three inches to be sure, but were not finding anything more than two inches below the surface. They cleaned and regraphited the shot; the club got 40% of it and sold it to its members - everyone is happy with the outcome
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Old June 9, 2010, 05:10 PM   #25
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Bullet catcher = free lead for bullet casting.

Backstop is for misses and punch-through bullets.

Backstop = staggered tires, filled w/ local dirt to stop mosquito breeding & stabilize the pile.
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