How to Build a Shooting Range

boy with rifle image by Joyce Wilkes from

Estimates state that there are anywhere from 77 million to almost 100 million gun owners in the United States. Many of them enjoy recreational shooting and having a backyard range can provide hours of enjoyment. Zeroing in a rifle, or making sure of its accuracy, is also vitally important before hunting season begins. A good range provides the necessary facility to do this properly.

Building a simple gun range in the backyard can be a easy process if you have enough room to use it safely.

Decide upon the type of firearms and ammo that will be used, and the preferred distance to the target. This will determine the longest length needed for a shooting lane.

Survey the land, looking for natural backstops and what potentially lies beyond the target. If there are areas such as homes within the distance of the type of ammunition that you will use, re-orient the target area to prevent any overshooting bullets from landing among people.

Pile dirt up high with an earth-moving machine to make a berm, or reinforce a natural berm until it is at least 4 feet higher than the top of the target stand. This is the bullet backstop. Do not use material such as straw bales that bullets can easily penetrate. Generally speaking, a .22 long rifle cartridge will need 24 inches of tightly packed dirt to be adequate, while higher-powered rifles may need up to 48 inches.

Do not use any building material such as rock or concrete that may cause a ricochet back to the shooter.

Mount either moveable or permanent target holders immediately in front of the backstop. For a permanent holder, mount two 4 X 4 wooden posts in concrete 4 feet apart and perpendicular with the shooting area. Staple chickenwire between the posts. Use wooden clothespins to hold several paper targets at one time to the chickenwire.


Always practice safe gun handling practices when using firearms.


Adjust your shooting distance by moving towards or away from the targets. Do not move the target away from the berm and towards you. The bullet may ricochet on the ground in front of the berm and bounce over it.