We had built our first shooting permanent shooting range about ten years back on our property when we had a concrete, covered "shootin' porch" put on the back of our new barn. My good friend Matt over at Jerking the Trigger helped me put a bit of sweat equity into that barn back then and he has joined me on occasion back then and over the years to shoot on our range.
Over the years, the one thing that has changed is we did have quite a few new neighbors build houses in the area during the first decade of the new millennium. So along with that... and the very wet, clay ground here at our property... and to add the ability to shoot multiple targets at various angles for practice, 4H Shooting Sports, NRA/CCW courses, and other shooting activities... we decided to re-design our fifty-yard range in addition to putting in a lot of tile for drainage on the property.
Since the gals and I shoot regularly, often multiple times each week, we wanted to be able to shoot year 'round without having to slog through water and mud to set targets so we decided to put drainage in the base of our range and cover it with compacted, number-eight washed-gravel that is ten to twelve-inches deep. This small gravel will not cause ricochets, with .22s or .308s - it's been personally tested by the gals and I, although the gravel will scatter. We put a commercial-grade plastic cloth under-layment down after the excavation of four to six inches of sod and top soil to keep the mud and weeds out while preventing the gravel from endlessly sinking in.
The earthen berm is thirteen to fourteen-foot high and configured in a "horse-shoe" shape so that shooters can safely address targets at various angles. We've planted it with a mix of grass seed and Crown Vetch with a straw-mat covering so hopefully what has started growing so far this fall will fill in nicely during the spring. We may need to over-seed in the spring, but it's a good start.
Since some folks may ask, the finished range is sixty-five feet long and thirty-five feet wide. We put in commercial-grade white-vinyl, privacy fence down each side that is seven feet tall with six-foot high privacy panels. The gals wanted it to look nice and while it may not offer ballistic protection, it does provide privacy, safety, a minimal amount of sound abatement, and a "what stray bullet, show me the hole" liability mitigation factor. Fortunately, our neighbors are to the left or right or east... the range is almost four-hundred feet off the road, points west to the state nature preserve and the closest structures due west of us and the range are almost five and a half miles away... did I say we live in the country?
I know you can never be safe enough with firearms and shooting, but I think we've taken more than adequate precautions in the re-configuration and construction of this range. We'll also be able to use the range for parties and entertaining too since we have a spare refrigerator and freezer in the barn and my Dad's fairly new gas grill to put out there on the shootin' porch when it's needed... ... for bacon, steaks, and bangs... I think Dad would approve!
We'll be relocating our archery range to take advantage of the side of the new earth berm outside of the new shootin' range and we still have the two-hundred yard range on the far side of the property for tweaking our rifles. If our home facilities don't always fit the need, we're fortunate to have the local gun club just ten minutes or a few country miles away with archery, shotgun, pistol, rifle, and cowboy action ranges.
There's still some landscaping, roto-tillin', and grass seedin'' to do around the outside of the range and for all the drainage trenches throughout the property... but we still have a few good weekends left to work on that this fall... when we're not shooting on the range, of course.
So now you folks know why lately I've been down to one post each week. What can I say... it's been busy 'round here... and the gals and I are blessed with more than we deserve... including... The new shootin' range...