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Old May 7, 2013, 05:43 PM   #1
everest
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Farm Firing Range - Backstop Question

Folks,

I have designed a firing range for my 150 acre farm that utilizes a large hill as a backstop. The challenge/concern that I'm facing is that while the hillside projects up about 50 feet from the point of impact behind the targets, the slope is only about 25 degrees or so. So while there is absolutely no question that my rounds will impact the hillside I see the distinct possibility of a round "skipping" off the hard ground and heading up over the hill. I have fired rounds at woodchucks in this field previously and have seen instances where I couldn't find the round at the impact point, it appeared to have "skipped". The nearest house is about a mile away downrange, but I still find this concerning. I don't want any bullet fragments leaving my impact point at all if I can help it.

The second aspect is that I prefer not to dig up a large berm on the hillside if I can avoid it because I use it as a source for hay and drive tractors in it quite frequently. Plus it would be a bit of an eyesore.

I was considering using two large round bales immediately behind the ground impact points to catch any skipped bullets or bullet fragments. I don't believe even a large round bale would stop a rifle round, but I DO think it would easily stop a bullet fragment or even a malformed FMJ round that's already plowed through 12" of hard ground or so.

Thoughts on this? Advice? Obviously safety is of paramount importance in all of this.

-Jeff

Updated: Added a photo of the range from the firing point. You can see two target frames at 50 and 100 yards. There is another at 25 yards, 150 yards, 200 yards, and 400 yards.
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File Type: jpg Range.jpg (132.8 KB, 227 views)

Last edited by everest; May 7, 2013 at 06:24 PM.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:15 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
have seen instances where I couldn't find the round at the impact point,
I've shot a WHOLE bunch of woodchucks with everything from 22LR up to 30-06. I've never once found the round at the point of impact. Bullets go pretty deep in dirt...

I wouldn't worry about shooting into a hill side of dirt, unless you know there's rocks on the surface or it gets extremely cold in winter with little or no snow.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:22 PM   #3
everest
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Beyond not finding the bullets I've actually heard the distinct whine of a bullet flying off into the wild blue yonder shooting that hillside. So I know they do come off the dirt. What you see is a shallow furrow about 12" long maybe 1/2" deep in the center, but angling down from the firing point and back up from roughly the middle of the furrow. So pretty much I know the bullets skip out. It's a pretty distinctive whine when they come out. My guess is that they couldn't possibly make it very far.

Anyways, I should have posted a photo with my original post. . .I've edited it so you can see the hillside, and you can see the massive barn off in the distance as well (it's .9 miles away or so). It looks closer but it isn't, it's a big one.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:23 PM   #4
Lucas McCain
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I have a similar situation. I use 5 gallon pails filled with dirt and the covers on. I stack 2 rows deep and 3 rows high, and cable them to the target posts so they tip over when hit.
Comes time to hay. mow around them or pick them up.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:35 PM   #5
everest
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The buckets is an excellent idea! I was thinking about dropping the targets down a few feet (lower angle into the ground as well). Buckets full of dirt just behind the impact point would be perfect! 3 high, 2 deep. . .15 buckets per firing point would do it I think. It would also be interesting to see what does skip and gets caught and what doesn't. . .and what kind of penetration the fragments get. Great idea.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:55 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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Well, let's do some simple math. Admittedly, it's based on assumptions, but I think they demonstrate the point.


Let's give your ricocheting bullet a VERY generous BC of 0.10. Some actual, stable bullets aren't a whole lot higher than that, so that number is extremely generous for a tumbling bullet.

Let's say it's a 150gr .308 bullet and it leaves the ground at an angle that maximizes it's distance and with a velocity of 1,200 fps.

It's maximum range would be about 1,400 yards, which is 4,200ft.

I'd say that is worst case scenario (maximum distance) in every sense of the word.

If it were a 55gr .223/.22-250 type bullet and had a much lower BC, like 0.05... which might still be generous... it would have a max range of 800 yards if it left the ground at 1,200fps.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:56 PM   #7
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I would guess that any bullet that skipped off the hard ground would have lost a lot of it's energy. Then again it only takes one mistake to give you a problem with the neighbors over the hill.

The bucket idea is a good one. I was going to suggest hauling a tank of water out and dumping it in the impact zone when the ground gets baked hard.

Bullets will definitely skip off of frozen ground so the bucket idea would work for winter as well.
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Old May 7, 2013, 08:25 PM   #8
leprechaun50
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If you don't mind giving up a small bit of ground, there are plans on the internet for building a railroad tie and sand backstop.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...AXUgfHwLADW3aA
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Old May 7, 2013, 10:57 PM   #9
Gbro
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I think your initial concerns are spot on! every bullet you let loose are YOUR responsibility!
You seem concerned only about ricochet's, what about a plain high shot??
I the photo you posted, is that a building roof showing at 1:OO??
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Old May 8, 2013, 08:21 AM   #10
everest
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Gbro,

That is a cattle barn off about .9 miles in the distance. I'm not sure any backstop is going to manage to contain a shot that's 30'-40' high Shooting will be done from a rested position and random spraying of rounds will not be permitted.

-Jeff
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Old May 8, 2013, 08:35 AM   #11
Hunter Customs
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I needed a back stop for both my rifle and pistol range and did not have a natural one.
So I made a rectangle out of stacked railroad ties, filled the center with compacted dirt, it made a darn good backstop/target butt.
I built this about 25 years ago and I'm still using it today.

Best Regards
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www.huntercustoms.com
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Old May 8, 2013, 08:39 AM   #12
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I've seen many such traps built with railroad ties and sand. If I were lucky enough to have enough land on which to shoot it is the way I would go. I would think the costs of ties and sand would be way less than excavation unless you have your own back-hoe.
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Old May 8, 2013, 10:22 AM   #13
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I used round bail for years, nary and issue, but a few year ago I had to take down a dead rotten elm tree. Chopped it up and piled it behind my back stop. I add to it when ever I get the chance.
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Old May 9, 2013, 07:25 PM   #14
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Don't know if it was Lucas McCain who posted awhile back about the five gallon buckets of sand used as a target to capture bullets for melting.
I tried a rudimentary version and it works well. I am looking forward to emptying it in a couple of weeks and reclaiming about 500 lead bullets.
Whoever it was it is a great idea and I appreciate it.
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Old May 9, 2013, 08:50 PM   #15
BigD_in_FL
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Quote:
That is a cattle barn off about .9 miles in the distance. I'm not sure any backstop is going to manage to contain a shot that's 30'-40' high Shooting will be done from a rested position and random spraying of rounds will not be permitted.
You still might want to move your distant target to the left somewhat as that roof looks close enough to a line of fire. Putting some big bales right behind your target stand should help, assuming your shots are close to being on target
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Old May 10, 2013, 12:31 AM   #16
Double Naught Spy
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Round bails are NOT sufficient ballistic backstops.
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Old May 10, 2013, 12:42 AM   #17
JohnKSa
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NRA publishes a book that provides information on how to build a safe range/backstop.

The manual states that the slope of a dirt berm backstop should be as steep as possible, but not less than 45 degrees (1:1 slope). The manual also advises removing all rocks and other materials that could cause a ricochet.

It states that while natural hills can often be used as the basis for a dirt berm backstop, shaping the impact side is generally required to achieve the proper minimum slope.

The link is to an article that quotes the NRA Range Manual.

http://nssf.org/ranges/RangeResource...y%20Management

Your backstop is high enough, but the angle isn't steep enough.
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Old May 11, 2013, 10:19 PM   #18
603Country
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You didn't say what caliber you are shooting (and it might be several calibers), but if it's a 22 centerfire, there are several highly explosive bullets that won't ricochet (say the manufacturers). I've gone to a highly frangible bullet (40 gr) in the 223 that I use for critter elimination in the areas around our ranch home. I do not want a ricochet.

And I have a regular range with backstop, where dirt is about 4 or 5 feet high and enclosed by timbers. Except for some unstabilized 60 gr Partitions that went somewhere (not the target) out of my 220 Swift, there's been no danger of bullets flying off into the unknown.
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Old May 12, 2013, 01:13 AM   #19
ClydeFrog
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US military field manuals; TMs...

The US DoD/armed forces have a few FMs or field manuals on range specs & how to set up safe ranges. The US Army SF or special forces training manuals or books will help too.
Many of these updated US Army USAF & USMC field manuals are now online or open source. I'd get a few or see; www.deltapress.com www.paladin-press.com .

Be safe!

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Old May 12, 2013, 05:18 AM   #20
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Ugly as sin but another option

I stacked 5-6 used pick up tires each filled with sand. It has stopped everything from .44 mag down in handgun and .243 down in rifle. It has absorbed thousands of rounds and still working great.
The tire shop was more than happy to give me all the tires I asked for.
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Old May 12, 2013, 07:02 PM   #21
22-rimfire
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If it were me, I'd shift my target stands a bit. But I would get a dozier and build a berm behind the 50 yd stand and create a limited area of a steep slope behind the 100 yd target point. The 50 yd target is your likely problem in terms of riccochets. You may know someone who has a small dozier that could do the job. If the scared earth is troublesome to you, I'd just seed the slopes with grass to get some cover on them.

You could do it with a rented Bobcat if the soil is not too hard and the soil zone fairly deep. You can rent them for a weekend (delivered) and they will likely charge you for one day's rental.
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Old May 14, 2013, 08:32 AM   #22
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OT - that sure is a beautiful piece of land you have there!
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Old May 14, 2013, 01:15 PM   #23
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What a nice view. What about building a shooting platform to elevate you to increase the angle? Like a Mini tower or deck. Maybe room for friends and a grill.
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Old May 16, 2013, 08:29 AM   #24
Brian Pfleuger
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What about building a shooting platform to elevate you to increase the angle?
If he's currently at 25dg and he wants to get to the NRA suggested 45dg, from 400 yards away his "shoot-house" would have to be 437 feet tall.
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Old May 16, 2013, 12:42 PM   #25
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So Base Jumping is out?
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