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Old May 3, 2001, 08:34 AM   #1
Join Date: June 7, 1999
Posts: 32
I am moving shortly and will no longer be able to just walk out my back door to practice...

I can drive just 10 minutes to my mother's place for long gun practice but want to build a shooting house on my new property for my daily pistol work. I can legally shoot anything I want but prefer NO risk of lost rounds and maximum noise abaitment to avoid any complaints from my new neighbors. I primarily shoot 45 acp but have everything from 22lr through 44 mag. Here are my thoughts so far, I would welcome any suggestions.

I have found a cheap (all I gotta do is go get them) source for used car tires. I plan on stacking them overlapping, lay down first row and offset next row 1 / 2, and filling the tires with dirt. I have read several articles about building using this technique and it is simple, cheap, durable and energy efficient. Plus I have seen several shooting houses that use stacked tires to allow 360 degree safe fire. I want about 50 by 100 feet of shooting area but will settle for 20 feet wide. I will probably use stabilized sand (sand mixed with cement) for flooring.

What should I use for roofing? I was thinking plywood covered with sandbags.

Should I stack sandbags in front of primary target wall as bullit trap?

Would it be better to figure out a protected lighting system or should I just use cheap porcelin/plastic outlets and figure on occasionally replacing bulbs/outlets?
If they come for my guns and I stand up and fight...What about my kids???

if I don't fight...What about my kids???
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Old May 10, 2001, 09:22 AM   #2
Join Date: June 7, 1999
Posts: 32
Maybe I picked the wrong forum to post this...

Doesn't anyone have opinions/information on constructing a relatively cheap but safe place to practice with a handgun?
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Old May 10, 2001, 05:25 PM   #3
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Join Date: January 16, 2001
Posts: 115
Not many of us have the luxury of having our own range. I suggest talking with the local range.
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Old May 10, 2001, 07:22 PM   #4
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Join Date: December 3, 2000
Posts: 5
We have a large five room tire house to use for live fire excercises with the dept. We used 10' 4x4's to place the tires around. We then packed the vertical columns of tires with sand. The stacks are offset. There is no way a round can escape the house unless it is straight up. We have no roof, only a catwalk over the top for the instructors to observe and to run the pneumatic targets. Hope this helps
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Old May 11, 2001, 11:31 PM   #5
Jeff, CA
Posts: n/a
Free advice, and worth every penny

Plywood covered with sandbags for roofing? I realize you intend for the sandbags to stop an errant upward shot, or a ricochet, but speaking as a civil engineer, that's a horrible idea. Why would you purposely pile dead weight on your roof? You'd have to have one hell of a set of joists to hold it up, and that would also mean you'd lose overhead clearance unless you made the whole thing higher, and that means more tires, plus you'd have to engineer your walls (or some other structure independent of the walls) to hold it up.

Another alternative is various manufacturers' bullet-resistant fiberglass panels. I installed these on one of my projects (and tested the leftovers ), and it works. It’s not much better a choice, though. It's really expensive, and in the thickness required to stop a direct 44 magnum shot, it’s not light, either – about 4 lb per sq. ft. You might get by with a thinner panel since bullets will probably be hitting it at a shallow angle, but who knows how thin you can go? These are usually available in 4x8’ sheets, same as plywood, so you’d still need some structure under them.

How could I guarantee no bullets could escape, and do it cheap? I couldn't.

Another problem with any kind of roof: it’s going to be difficult to span even 20’ without having to go to something expensive, like steel or engineered wood beams, or prefabbed wood trusses. You could stick with sawn lumber beams, but you’d have to have a row of posts right down the middle to cut the span down to no more than about 12’ (you didn't say whether you plan to have "rooms", or you wanted the whole space clear. That makes a difference).

How’s the climate where you are? Do you get snow? Wind? You might find you'll need more roof than you thought you did, just to account for these.

Do you get the idea I think a roof is a can of worms? Actually, it's just a set of problems that can be solved with the application of enough money (like all construction projects).

As for lighting, if you dispense with the roof, you'll get all the light you could want, free, plus realistic weather conditions. Just remember to slope the floor about 1/4" per foot so the water drains off, in whatever direction is convenient.

As far as getting complaints from your neighbors, how close are they? IMO, a 50x100' "fort" made of old tires would be an eyesore. I'd run it by them first, if they're within sight. Have you considered a berm? It would take up more room, but it might look more natural.

Edit: I just checked your profile, and I would definitely consider a berm with no roof. A black-walled, enclosed structure in Houston is a sweat lodge, and you will have the occasional hurricane winds to deal with.
Old May 15, 2001, 09:19 AM   #6
Join Date: June 7, 1999
Posts: 32
I have a wooded 4 acre lot (and so do my neighbors) so my "house" will be basically out of sight.

I am toying with "stuccoing" the outside with a sand+concrete mix I heard about in a special on a house built using this same technique (tires filled with rammed earth) by Dennis Weaver in Arizona. Their claim was that the house maintained temperature similar to a cave due to the thickness of the walls and didn't require any a/c or heat at all.

Last week a friend offered to give me 2 WWII style quonset huts he has on his property just to get them removed. I am going over this weekend to look at them. Maybe I can use them to make my roof. A buddy was telling me about a spray in foam that is relatively cheap, maybe I could assemble the roofs of the huts and fill them with the foam before inverting and placing on top.

I plan on 12-15 feet high walls. My test wall section I built is almost 15 feet long and 4 feet high and took me and my 3 oldest boys(14,12,10) only 1 day to build. It is so solid I was unable to dent it using my tractor. Test shooting proves no worry over lost rounds trough the wall but I may need to build some kind og bullit trap, like a layer of sandbags, in front of primary target wall to insure against ricochets.
If they come for my guns and I stand up and fight...What about my kids???

if I don't fight...What about my kids???
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