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Old August 6, 2006, 11:39 PM   #1
howard bleach
Join Date: June 13, 2006
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Shooting on your own property - how many acres?

Hi - my wife and I are currently house hunting in California (I know, I know - her idea / long story) and I was wondering how much land we should be looking for if I'm planning to shoot recreationally on my porperty? The legal aspects probably vary from state to state, and I'd imagine it's rather strict in California, but safety is also a concern. If I shoot at a bowling pin and miss, what are the chances I'm going to accidentally put a bullet in my new neighbor?
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Old August 7, 2006, 09:52 AM   #2
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Of course you need to check the local laws. I'm currently in the process of building my "range". I plan on cutting a lane through the woods about 100 yards deep and at the end i will be putting up a berm about 8ft high and 15ft wide. When i get this done I'll post pics.
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Old August 7, 2006, 11:52 AM   #3
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if you want to creep out the vicinity right off the bat, talk to your potential neighbors. i've never heard of people actually having problems with their local ordinances, but i have heard of them having social ones when the neighbors call the cops because they don't know what is actually legal and assume they're breaking the law by shooting. noise violations matter too. the terrain can dictate how the sound carries. given all those variables, it's hard to say what you'd need, but i wouldn't be too nervous saying 3-4 acres would be too small unless you're living next to fellow shooters.
the odds of hitting a neighbor if you miss your target should be nonexistent, save the impossibly long ricochet, because you should always have a backstop. when i'm on private property i usually shoot into hillsides, whether i'm shooting down into them or standing on one hill shooting into another.
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Old August 7, 2006, 01:07 PM   #4
Double Naught Spy
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Shooting bowling pins with pistols, right, and the distance is 25 yards. Is that also right?

Assuming you have a ricochet off a pin that takes off over the berm, the range of the round should be greatly reduced, should be. It should suffer some deformation, loss of rifling spin, and may even start its own spin that buzzes. These all upset the aerodyanmics, hence reducing risk compared to a round fired straight.

Down range ricochet threat to your neighbors is down range. Ricochets that are more lateral than down range will have lost a lot of energy as will have bouncebacks. So you are not likely to put holes in your neighbors to the left and right of the range even if a round manages to pop up and fall out of the sky onto their property.

Probably the most significant risk is the unencumbered unintentional shot over the backstop, not a ricochet. Once again, the danger is down range, not lateral.

To help offset the risk of putting holes in neighbors, you would do well to orient your range such that there are no homes, barns, buildings, etc., downrange in the direct line of fire and several degrees off in each direction from the line of fire. This should be for the estimated distance your ammo might go on an optimal day. I seem to recall artillary Lugers having a max range (on the sights) of 600 yards. After that, the threat of harm is greatly reduced (supposedly).

If you, yourself, can't shoot inside, you might do well to have your impact zone located in a structure such as an old barn where you still put in the same sort of backstop, but the sides and roof preclude any high velocity ricochets from taking off unencumbered.
"If you look through your scope and see your shoe, aim higher." -- said to me by my 11 year old daughter before going out for hogs 8/13/2011
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Old August 7, 2006, 01:24 PM   #5
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LOL its hard for me to think in acres and shooting since our small pasture is 3 sections , and in a non populated area , If nothing else this reminds me how well i have it on the shooting front .
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Old August 7, 2006, 02:04 PM   #6
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In my neck of the woods you have to be 500' from a dwelling you do not own,unless you have the property owners permission!I have ten acres and I can get about 800' from the nearest neighbor,so alot depends on how close your neighbors have built to the property line.
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Old August 7, 2006, 03:45 PM   #7
El Barto
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In LA, an acre of land can cost upwards of $1 million, so I won't be building anything!
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Old August 7, 2006, 03:45 PM   #8
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How far away from the neighbors nosy kids can you stay? I'd be willing to bet they will show up at the wrong end of the range shortly after you start your first box of ammo.
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Old August 7, 2006, 04:38 PM   #9
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Also consider checking (or not) with your homeowner's insurance co. Here in SC, an Insurance agency cancelled a homeowner's policy, Because the agent saw a shooting range on the property. I don't remember all the details, except there were some newspaper articles and talk of boycotting the Ins. Co. --Of course they are still in Business!
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Old August 7, 2006, 05:43 PM   #10
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I think if you live in the L.A area,or any urban area ,you are SOL!
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Old August 7, 2006, 06:39 PM   #11
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i shoot in the middle of 400 acres and the neighbors still complain.
invited them to come along one day and no more complaints
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Old August 9, 2006, 12:37 PM   #12
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Best place for all things considered, is a creek bed. It keeps the sound from being to bad on the neighbors, and will act as a back stop, as well as a safety net for richochets.
Try to find some property with a good straight creek running through it, and it will save a lot of time and energy building a shooting range.
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Old August 24, 2006, 02:45 AM   #13
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It's not so much how much land you have as how it's laid out. I'm on ~7 acres. I only need ~4 of that acreage to include the house and the rifle range. My parcel is rectangular, 115yd x 300yd, but the house is damn near in the middle; I don't really need any to one side--I needed the long 300yd strip to hide the 200yd rifle range.

Here, the law says I can't shoot any closer than 300 feet from my neighbor's dwelling/building; closest neighbor downrange is about 1800yd away at 45 degrees from the firing position. (I investigated all this before I closed escrow.)

As I recall, the NRA recommends a berm that's 15' high. Mine is about 13', and all my targets are about 8" off the ground with a 3-foot thick, 4-foot high, "compound", vertical, log fence backstop in front of the berm (I'm probably the only one to say "thank you, Katrina" for all those big trunks and limbs (stacked on ends). Any ricochets will go left and right). I'm glad the berm is 13' high; there was a time when I thought the trees behind the berm would render the berm's height unnecessary, but Katrina thinned that out too much. The berm at 13' works very well; for the pistol targets I use only steel plates angled to direct ricochets into the dirt directly in front of them. For my rifle target, I built a box in front of the berm 4' x 4' x 4' and filled it with sand. As backing for the bullseyes, I nailed 1" rubber gym padding to the box's wooden wall; that keeps the sand from spewing out as the bullseye's hole in the wooden wall gets bigger. Sometimes I'll wet down the sand so it won't leak out as easily.
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Old September 16, 2006, 06:48 AM   #14
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how about some pics of your range?
I've joined the 300.
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Old September 16, 2006, 06:45 PM   #15
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The last thing I want to do is start an argument, but wild bill bucks, what do you mean by using a river bed. I know in my state, New York, there is some law against shooting a deer standing in water, the state fears a bullet may ricochet of the water surface and hit another person. How would a river bed help? Or did you mean a dried up one? Just wondering, I personaly never shoot unless there is solid earth behind the target, don't even like to fire in the woods, even if I'm more than confident no one is suppose to be in these woods. Always wonder what if someone came wondering in, might be their fault but my ass on the line.

As to the topic, a friend of mine recently had a pond dug on his land, used the extra fill to build a massive burm, thought it was a great idea, kill 2 crows with one .22 shell.
got me a little lady, the gun buying has come to an end, sigh
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Old September 16, 2006, 09:02 PM   #16
Chuck Dye
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A creek bottom usually provides nice banks for backstops and channels sound upward and upstream, downstream. The sound channeling effect can significantly reduce sound reaching neighbors. My home is in a V-shaped draw in a mountainside with neighboring houses on the other side of wooded ridges away from line of sight. When I have asked, they have said they thought my rimfire activity was across the valley in front of their houses, not behind them as it really is. My centerfire activity registers as happening at my home, but my neighbors only request is that I forgo or minimize shooting during the deer season: they LIKE filling the freezer from the porch!

(One of the first bits of neighborly advice I received was to keep shooting into the hillside if I poach a deer out of season: one shot is meat, many shots just more plinking!)
Gee, I'd love to see your data!
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