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Old 02-03-2011, 07:26 AM
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Default Target practice area backstop



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I hope this has not been asked before, I kind of nosed around a bit first.

Let's say you had 6-8 acres of land and you were going to 'build' a dirt backstop for rifle and pistol practice. Assuming you had the equipment to do such a thing, how thick would the dirt need to be to be a safe backstop? I am thinking of standard 9mm FMJ at various distances but mostly thinking of 30-06 practice, anywhere from 50 to 400 yards.

Thanks for input!!!
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:27 AM
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my back stop is dirt pushed up with a cat 8 ft high 12 to 15 ft wide you could shoot a cannon at it ..our range barriers are 6 ft wide 8 ft high put in place with a backhoe id put treated planks with 2 to 3 ft of dirt inbetween that would stop a 30/06 easily
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:43 AM
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It doesn't take that much dirt. The height and angle are more important. You need to have the back stop angled away from the shooters and tall enough to be 2 times as high as your tallest target (just as a general rule).

If you want to know how much dirt you need shoot your gun into the side of a hill and look to see how deep it goes,... not very far.

It is hard to pile dirt up and have it not be at least 8' thick if you are trying to go 10' high. Try to avoid rocks in the main shooting area to reduce richichets however they need to be buried in the hill to help with erosion.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:01 AM
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Consider a dump truck load? At least a half load. I would be careful just firing off into a dirt pile for testing. A fresh pile of dirt is not as solid as a weathered and settled pile. Depending on the type of dirt used the 30-06 may put a round through 3 of 4 feet a loose pile where it may only go 1-2 feet through a pile thats been weather packed.

Im no good at the measuring but I would venture to say 3 -4 yards minimum, 6-8 if its loose sandy type dirt that can be washed away by rain easily.
Old 02-03-2011, 11:21 AM
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^^^Agreed^^^

Forgot to emphasize that you need to pack the back stop and occasionally maintain it based upon the weather.
Old 02-03-2011, 12:34 PM
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Great, I think you guys have given me some things to think about and work on.......thanks.
Old 02-04-2011, 07:57 AM
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I have everything in my backstop from a IBM typewriter to a kitchen sink and just put a house foundation in it. Mine is about 14' high now and 50-60 feet wide which is way overkill but I got a big new (to me) 410C JD and it works just fine.

The middle of mine contains a complete set of footers for a transformer substation.

Mine started off by taking felled trees and placing them (with a trackhoe) and started putting dirt, concrete, whatever in it. Caught a guy that was doing to dump a bunch of curbing. Got him to bring it and give it to me so it is there too.

At Bridgeville, Del the land is all flat so they dug out a big hole about eight feet deep, built a retaining wall on one side and piled all the dirt up for a backstop.

You can probably buy old power poles from your power company. They will work for a retaining wall. Around here a 30 ft pole is $15.00

There is also a NRA publication on range building you could call and order. That will give you some good ideas.

I have also seen a range where they got reject drainage pipe from a manufacturer and laid them end to end, piled dirt up to cover them up and left the ends open for storage. There were like five foot diameter pipe.

Also saw a range where a guy took about five 55 gal drums and stood them on end with three in back row and two in front row and filled them with gravel. He shot holes in bottom of drums so they would not fill with water at first.
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:15 AM
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Cool...thanks for the ideas Hummer.
Old 02-04-2011, 10:05 AM
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I used two rows of 8 inch thick railroad ties. I found that the 7.62X39 will go through one thickness after it is softened up a bit, but to date nothing we use has ever gone through the second row. Behind the backstop is the side of a dirt hill "just in case"
Old 02-04-2011, 12:44 PM
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2 rows of tires full of dirt. Stagger the rows and fill behind them with dirt. Still know what is behind the backstop while you are at it.
Old 02-04-2011, 08:50 PM
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Sgt. Booker is right. forgot about those. At Camp Perry there is a tire house which is a room sized shooting facility. Two rows of tires thick. I remember reading somewhere the trick with tires is to get a pneumatic tamper and make sure the ENTIRE TIRE is filled with dirt. Find a place that changes out truck tires and they will give you all you want.

I would suggest that after you get the mound built to cover the whole thing with dirt. Some locals get all funky acting if you want to bury tires. You don't need some tree hugger diming you out.

Oh by the way they are also queer about asphalt. Supposed to be a no no to bury it so if some happens along make sure it is deep in.

I would go with the tire thing but don't have a impactor. Haven't even seen one in years and may not be available???? Probably take a hoss of a air compressor to run one too.

Just remembered another range. Guys took transport containers like come on ships and carried one at a time on tractor trailers. They used to be available for like $500.00.

At any rate they took one and piled dirt up on one side and higher than the roof of container and used the container as a target storage facility.

Also saw a guy pour a footer about four feet wide and 8 feet long. then he took 3/4" plyform and cut it down the middle. He mounted it with spacers to hold it in place and poured cement in it about 18" deep at a time and 8" wide. He had No 5 rebar in the footer into the bottom of the wall so it would lock in.

At the top of the pour he placed in more short pieces of No 5 rebar sticking up to about the top of the frame. After it set up he raised the frame up leaving 4" over the lower section of wall and poured in another 16" of concrete and kept going till he got it 8 feet high.

In some areas of the country you can get foundation contractors with aluminum forms to erect you a wall that appears to be white bricks when form is removed.

Get the pros to do it and they will do you a 8 ft wall in one pour.It will be alot of work but you will have a nice wall. You could build a shed on backside for target storage.
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