Ever thought about how amazing it would be to have your own outdoor range right in your backyard? If you're someone who loves spending time at the outdoor or indoor range, this idea might have crossed your mind more than once. And guess what? If you've got a big enough property and the permission to build, turning this dream into a reality is totally doable. In this guide, we're going to walk you through the steps to create your very own shooting range outdoors.
How Much Will It Cost?
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Building a gun range outdoors doesn't have to break the bank, but it's not exactly pocket change either. A basic setup could cost you around $2,000 to $4,000. This includes the essentials like a safe backstop, target stands, and basic range equipment.
If you're thinking of something a bit more fancy, like adding shelters or high-tech targets, you might be looking at a price tag closer to $7,000 or more. Remember, the final cost depends a lot on how elaborate you want your range to be and the materials you choose.
What Type of Ammunition Can You Use On Your Range?
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When it comes to building your own range outdoors, you've got a fair bit of freedom in choosing your ammunition, but that does not mean everything is permitted. Standard ammunition types like .22lr, 9mm, .45 ACP, and .308 are all great choices for most backyard shooting ranges. Stick to lead-free or frangible ammo to avoid any sort of pollution.
High-caliber rounds like .50 BMG or armor-piercing types are generally not a great idea for a backyard range. They can pose a safety risk due to their long-range and penetrating power. Plus, let's be real – your neighbors probably won’t appreciate the extra noise and potential safety concerns.
What Do You Need To Keep in Mind Before Building an Outdoor Range?
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Here's a list of key points to keep in mind before building your home shooting range outdoors:
Check Local Laws and Regulations: Before you start, make sure you’re in the clear legally. Different areas have different rules about building and using outdoor ranges.
Consider the Noise: Remember, gunfire can be loud. Consider how the noise might affect your neighbors and if any noise regulations apply.
Get Insurance: Look into liability insurance. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it involves firearms.
Think About Long-Term Maintenance: Plan for upkeep. Think about how you'll maintain the range, including cleaning and repairs.
How Big Should Your Range Be?
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If you're mainly into handguns, your range doesn't need to be huge. Typically, handgun ranges stretch from 5 yards (that's about 25 feet) to 25 yards (or 75 feet). For airguns, a 25-yard range usually does the trick. And if you're into small-bore rifles and shotguns, think about setting up a 50-yard range. This distance is pretty standard for long-range shooting and works well for these types of firearms. For rifles over .22 caliber – you're going to need more space. A minimum of 100 yards is recommended.
Where Should You Build It?
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Alright, so you've got the plan, but where should you actually build your range? First things first, think about safety. You want a spot that's far enough from your house and your neighbors' to avoid any accidents or noise complaints.
Next, consider the direction of the range. North-facing ranges are generally a good idea because you won't have the sun directly in your eyes most of the day. Also, look for natural backstops like hills or mounds of earth – they're great for catching bullets safely. If you don't have natural backstops, you'll need to build one. Consider the lay of the land as well. You want to be able to have an open, flat range.
Lastly, don't forget about the wind! A range that's constantly swept by strong winds might make shooting accurately a real challenge.
How to Build an Outdoor Shooting Range
Let's break it down into simple steps to make it easy:
Step 1: Build Shooting Stands
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First up, you’ll want to build shooting stands. Avoid using trees; instead, opt for building your own stands.
Here's how you can do it:
- Start by selecting a durable material like PVC pipe or wood.
- For a basic stand, design a simple rectangular frame. If you're using PVC, this will involve cutting the pipes to size and fitting them together with connectors. For a wooden stand, you'll need to cut your timber to size and use screws or nails to assemble it.
- Next, add a crossbar where you can attach a target board or chains for steel targets. Place it at a height that suits the type of shooting you'll be doing.
- Next, you'll need to stabilize the base. If you're using PVC, you can add end caps filled with sand or concrete to the base pipes for extra weight. For wooden stands, consider a broader base or stakes that can be driven into the ground.
- Do a thorough safety check. Make sure the stand is stable and won’t tip over easily.
Step 2: Build a Backstop
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A backstop is crucial for gun safety. It stops any missed shots from going beyond the range.
Here's how to build one:
- Your backstop can be made from various materials, but densely packed dirt or sandbags are commonly used for their effectiveness in absorbing bullets. If you prefer a more solid structure, rubber mulch or thick wooden logs can also be effective.
- The size of your backstop should depend on the type of shooting you're doing. Generally, it should be at least 8 feet tall and wide enough to cover the shooting area, with extra width as a safety margin.
- Position your backstop in a place where it will safely stop bullets, considering the maximum range of the firearms you'll use. Make sure that there's nothing behind it that could be damaged or pose a risk if hit.
- If you're using dirt, pile it to the desired height and width. It should be compacted to increase its density and effectiveness in stopping bullets.
- For a sandbag backstop, stack the bags in a pyramid or wall shape. Make sure that the bags are tightly packed and check them regularly for wear and tear.
- When using logs or rubber mulch, construct a thick wall, layering the material to make sure there are no gaps. Rubber mulch is particularly effective for smaller calibers and offers easier maintenance.
Step 3: Attach Targets To Your Target Stand
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Now for the fun part – attaching targets! You have a variety of options, from paper targets for precision shooting to reactive steel targets for that satisfying 'ping'. For DIY options, cardboard with drawn or pasted-on targets works great.
For paper or cardboard targets, you can use a simple staple gun or clips to attach them to your target board. Make sure the surface is smooth and large enough to safely catch any off-center shots.
If you’re using steel targets, make sure they’re designed for shooting and hung at a safe angle to direct bullet splatter downwards. They should be suspended from your target stand using chains or sturdy hooks. Remember, steel targets are best used with rifles or handguns at a safe distance to avoid ricochets.
Step 4: Add Shooting Benches
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Adding shooting benches to your outdoor range is a great idea, especially for those longer shooting sessions. Whether it's for spectators or for yourself, having a place to sit beats sitting on the ground.
If you decide to add a shooting bench, you have two choices: build one yourself or buy a pre-made one. If you're going the DIY route, use sturdy materials like wood or metal to make sure your bench lasts and stays stable. And think about where to place it: you’ll want it to be a safe distance from the firing line. Also, consider putting it in a shady spot, maybe under a tree.
Step 5: Consider Lighting
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If you're planning to shoot outdoors, you might be wondering why you need to add lighting to your range. Well, sometimes the weather gets dark, like in winter, or maybe you want to shoot early in the morning or late at night. Similar to an indoor shooting range, having lights helps you see where you're shooting and where your shots land. You could use a portable generator, or solar panels, run some extension cords, or even use power banks to set up lighting at your range.
Step 6: Place Safety Signs
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Lastly, don’t forget to place safety signs around your range. These should include range rules, warnings about active shooting, and reminders to wear eye and ear protection.
By selecting the right location, designing your range thoughtfully, and maintaining it properly, you can create a safe and enjoyable shooting environment outdoors. Remember to always prioritize safety, follow local laws, and promote responsible firearm use.
And, for the perfect target solution to make range time more fun, whether for outdoor or indoor ranges, check out EasyShot shooting targets. With EasyShot's high-quality targets, you can improve your tactical training experience and make every session a memorable one. Shop with us today.