7 Tips for Building Your Ultimate Home Shooting Range

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DIY Advice for a Home Shooting Range

The old saying “practice makes perfect” is never truer than when it comes to shooting. But who has time to load up and run to the closest shooting range a few times per week? And once there, you get to deal with the constant crowds, the tactical Range Rambos, the Perilous Muzzle Wavers, and the Selfie-Taking, Look-at-My-New-Rifle Horde. Who needs all that?

The answer is to build your own range at home or at your farm. As long as you have an appropriate space, a range doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. The following tips will have you dialing-in that hunting rifle or shotgun on your own range in no time.

Note: Laws on home shooting ranges vary from state to state and even town to town. Check with your local sheriff’s office, police department and zoning commission for regulations pertaining to your area.

Click through this photo gallery article for advice on building your home shooting range.

Rural AreasRural AreasRural AreasRural AreasRural Areas

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1 | Rural Areas

Rural areas are perfect for range location. With fewer neighbors, the chance of friction arising over the sound of firearms is less likely.

First on the requirement list for a home shooting range is enough space to shoot safely. Obviously, shooting ranges need to be located only in areas where firearms can safely be fired. In addition to safety, noise is also an important consideration. Locate your range in an area where frequent shooting won’t annoy neighbors. A great way to keep them happy with your range is to invite them over to shoot with you.

(Michael Pendley photo)

 

Safety EquipmentSafety EquipmentSafety EquipmentSafety EquipmentSafety Equipment

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2 | Safety Equipment

The proper safety equipment is required for even the shortest of shooting sessions. Eye and ear protection will pay over a lifetime of shooting.

 A range must have the proper safety equipment. Eye and ear protection is required equipment at our range. This is critically important with young shooters. Proper shooting habits learned at an early age will stick with a shooter for life and go a long way toward protecting eyesight and hearing.

A lifetime of shooting without always protecting my hearing has left me with a constant ringing in my ears and slight hearing loss. Don’t let that happen to shooters at your home range. Recent tests with young shooters have also proven that perceived recoil levels are lower when hearing protection is in use.

(Michael Pendley photo)

Shooting BenchShooting BenchShooting BenchShooting BenchShooting Bench

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3 | Shooting Bench

A sturdy shooting bench is a must for accurate shooting. Even when constructed from treated lumber, a roof over the bench will provide protection from the elements and lengthen the lifespan of your bench.

The shooting bench at your range needs to be comfortable and solid. It is hard to shoot accurately from a wobbling platform. The most stable benches are made from either concrete or steel, but they are heavy, permanent, and not really feasible for the average shooter. A bench constructed from treated lumber is a great compromise.

Bench heights vary, but 36 to 40 inches seems to be the most comfortable for a wide range of shooters. An L-shaped bench, or a bench with an extension from the rear, or shooter, end of the bench allows the shooter to comfortably rest his or her elbow on the bench to steady their trigger-finger hand. Bench plans and designs are plentiful on the internet, in both permanent and portable styles. Find one that appeals to you and spend a weekend building it with your shooting buddies.

(Michael Pendley photo)

Target FrameTarget FrameTarget FrameTarget FrameTarget Frame

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4 | Target Frame

Target frames can be as simple as a metal or plastic frame, or as robust as a full sheet of plywood held in place by posts set permanently in the ground. Whatever frame you choose, make sure you have the proper means to attach your targets to the frame when you head to the range.

Once your bench is complete, you need something to shoot at. Target frames can be a simple metal rod design, a more robust frame constructed of angle iron to allow targets to be placed at varying distances from the shooter. Large sheets of plywood mounted on wooden posts offer a more permanent target placement.

Regardless of the target holder you choose, make sure you have tape, staples, or clips to mount targets to the frame. There is nothing worse than getting ready to shoot and realizing you don’t have any means to mount your targets.

(Michael Pendley photo)

Good OpticsGood OpticsGood OpticsGood OpticsGood Optics

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5 | Good Optics

Good optics come in handy at the range. Being able to check your hit location without walking to the target after each shot makes for a more enjoyable shooting session.

A spotting scope or pair of binoculars is a must for any range time. Being able to see hit locations from your shooting position beats a trip to the target and back after each shot. Good optics are particularly necessary when you have multiple shooters on the line at once. No one wants to peer downrange through a scope and see a shooting buddy walking down to check their target.

(Michael Pendley photo)

Check Local LawsCheck Local LawsCheck Local LawsCheck Local LawsCheck Local Laws

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6 | Check Local Laws

Check your local laws concerning shooting ranges before you build yours. Make certain you have an adequate backstop to limit any liability from stray bullets. Roger LaPointe and granddaughter Hadley Rose check her results on the target in front of a massive dirt backstop.

As noted in the introduction, shooting laws vary widely from state to state and even town to town in the same state. Great sources of information on what is allowed in your area include local police departments, sheriff’s offices, zoning commissions and local gun stores.

A written copy of your local laws and state laws is a good thing to keep handy if your range is in an area where neighbors might question the legality. Regardless of local laws, make sure your range has a safe backstop to protect your neighbors. Liability issues will arise if your bullets leave your property and strike a non-intended target on nearby land.

(Roger LaPointe photo)

Screen MountScreen MountScreen MountScreen MountScreen Mount

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7 | Screen Mount

A screen mounted alongside your bench helps to catch any spent brass that ejects from your firearm, making clean up after shooting a snap. 

A few pieces of extra gear will make a trip to your range more enjoyable and efficient. If you are shooting a semi-auto, a section of window screen or a net will catch ejected brass and make clean up at the end of a shooting session much faster. A bucket with a snap-on lid is the perfect receptacle for all that spent brass. Even if you don’t reload, chances are good that one of your shooting friends might. They would probably be happy to trade a few finished loads for a bucket full of spent brass.

A solid rest for your firearm is a must. Sand bags work well, but can be heavy to transport. An adjustable shooting vice is the perfect accessory for maximum accuracy. An added benefit is that many shooting rests styles greatly reduce recoil, making prolonged practice sessions less painful and more enjoyable.

(Michael Pendley photo)

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