Personal outdoor shooting range (what's needed?)

Hello all. We were able to get out to our land by the lake the other day and were finally able to shoot a little there. It surely makes both of us want to set something up for next time. (We were working out of bags on the ground this time…) I’ve been doing a bit of research but would like to know some “good ideas” and some “things to avoid.” Perhaps this will help others also.

My thoughts so far:
1-A bench or two (facing slightly different ways, if two of them) similar to this ( I would like to add adjustable seats to this model, maybe even with more than one seating surface, where we could just add one more for shorter folks. Cheap and easy. I would precut and finish with stain/paint all of the pieces, carry it all out there and then build this on site on top of some concrete blocks.
2-We would also need something to set all of our crap on once we hiked out to the shooting spot ~1200 feet in. There is a sold earth backdrop already as this is down a hill.
3-Something to catch brass with. Is this as easy as a way to attach a tarp like an “L” to the right?
4-Does it make sense to cover it when we’re not out there or does that just build spider heaven?
5-A place like this looks like it makes reasonably priced targets, especially when they have a 50% off sale. Some say 1/4" is enough, others 1/2", but always 500 grade. Thoughts?
6-Does the lead just stay in the environment or does it make sense to build in a trough for it to fall into and be collected/disposed of properly?
7-Great advice?

Thanks all!


We have talked a smidge about this in the past, check out this thread, @Brad, it might help:


Looking at that now.

The other piece I forgot to mention is target mounting. It seems like there are stakes with hooks on the top, things that look like small swing sets with targets hanging from chains, and bases that allow items to spring back. We’d want to leave it all in place, so what makes sense?


All ranges come with their own quirks when setting them up. So let me ask…

What distance is your backstop from where you want to put your bench?
How “down hill” is down hill as in angle?
Is this primarily a rifle or a pistol venue?

As to your questions:

Benches: Depending on your stature and the answer to how down hill the targets are you can build a three legged bench with concrete block and perhaps a paver or two for moderate height adjustments. I am a fan on POURING a concrete table top on sight and with the help of a friend or three hoisting it on top of said blocks. A 3" thick bench weighs about 250 lbs give or take. That said you can build a portable one with “meeting hall” table legs and plywood for pretty cheap.

Something to set your crap on: Tote in a picnic table, or build it on site. Lots of designs out there to include one that you fold the table top down to create a bench with a back (preferred).

Something to catch brass: Cotton Painters Tarp, they don’t melt with hot brass and I have never had one catch fire from the same.

Cover it: Cover what? The whole shooting position? or the benches? If you are going to build benches I would strongly consider a pole barn. Easy to erect on sight.

Steel Targets: YES!!! Those do look like good prices for 1/2" AR500. If this is going to be a permanent fixture invest in some “Black Pipe” or rigid EMT conduit from the hardware store. That failing 2X4’s and “Saw Horse” joints will take you a long way but they will degrade over time and WILL sustain FRAG damage from shooting steel. ALWAYS wear gloves when handling them. Grade 78 Truckers Chain from Harbor Freight and Snap Link’s are your friends.

Lead: Lead and copper are found in the ground…

Good Advice: I am a big fan of shipping containers when I have to leave stuff somewhere I can’t watch it. They make very small ones and ones that are 65’ long. I have spent more than one enjoyable day in a camp chair inside a shipping container watching liquid sunshine pouring down while chatting with a shooting bud or two.




You’ve no doubt seen Hickok45 on YouTube? Great backyard range setup. And he’s an excellent shot which is fun to watch.

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I fear that my setup will be sub standard if that is the standard. lol

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Craig, thanks a bunch!

There are two lots, 1200’ long and 230’ wide each. We’re likely going to shoot on just the one, so 200’ max, but most likely shorter with handguns/carbines for fun…not skill. :stuck_out_tongue:

The hill is significant, probably 60’+ drop over ~400’

Primarily pistol .22lr to 9mm, some .22lr rifle, 9mm + 22M carbine. Very occasional .357.

Bench will be permanently placed there (assembled there) so not worried about weight. I am worried about seat height variance from me to others. Treated/painted wood feels easier than getting cement all of the way back there, not to mention that there’s no water. I’m open to great ideas.

I like the assemble a picnic table idea. Thank you!

I meant cover the bench/seats, but we started talking about a pole barn over dinner. Nothing get cheaper or easier the more you talk about it. lol

Great advice on the chain set. :slight_smile:

It is currently a quite difficult place to get to. We’re going back out there soon to start in on cutting a path and relocating some dead wood spread all over. Getting the wood bits down there now would be a challenge. A shipping container is out of the question, although we did discuss building a two decker structure to hang out in from time to time. Running 1100’ of copper for power sounds reasonable…


The first and most important aspect of your personal range is to build it within walking distance of my house. After that, whatever you build will be just fine, I’m sure.

Thanks, buddy!


@Brad so if you are just doing it to 200’ for pistol and carbine you don’t have to get all hog wild about your steel stand structures. Rigid EMT would probably work well for you and there is a company I am familiar with that has just about every “joint” you can imagine to make assembly that much easier.

Kee Clamp Pipe Fittings

They make them in various pipe sizes and are just WAAAYYYY easier than trying to figure out what to do with 90* standard fittings. Think swing set and let your imagination run wild.

I will tell you with an 8" x 8" x 1/2" AR 500 plate it’s probably going to weigh 20+ lbs so it’s not going to move or dance much even with a 357Mag. Most of my stuff is 12" X 16" X 3/8" and weighs north of 30lbs and I have shot them with a 408AI (BIG Frikkin’ Rifle round) at 35 yards and not a dent even with lathe turned solids. That said shooting them with M855 (5.56 Green Tip/Tungsten penetrator) will leave a dimple out to 200 yards. I did shoot my 18"x24" plate with a 50BMG running Black Tip (Armor Piercing) by mistake once but it was at 1770 yards so no damage there. AR500 is the only way to go and with those prices stay with 1/2" and you can zero your 300WM hunting rifle and not worry. OH one bit about steel, PAINT it, A LOT. The cheap Rustoleum white paint is the best. Bring a new can with you for every trip because if you try and use the stuff from the last trip it won’t spray. Also if it’s COLD don’t try and paint unless the can is warm, it will freeze the paint in the nozzle.

Look online for “Portable Shooting Benches” and “Folding Picnic Tables” lots of plans and ideas out there you might even come up with one that combines the two. That failing, Cinder Blocks held together with Industrial Liquid Nails can be assembled on site, I recommend that you “Top” it with a paver stone. Then you could haul up what ever double thick 3/4" ply wood top you wanted and glue it to the paver. Just use silicone caulk where the wood meets the concrete to keep the critters out of the nooks and cranny’s.

Love me some Pole Barn! Build them to suit your needs and other than the hassle of hauling in the lumber they go together as easy or complex as you want. Tarps make cheap roof’s for sun and mild rain and you can upgrade with stringers and fiberglass or tin roofing as time and $$ allow.

One other tip for a home range. It’s election season soon. All those “Vote for me” signs make GREAT paper target holders. Just zip tie a piece of cardboard over the sign, staple your target to it and the little metal legs will go into just about any ground other than rocks.

Hope that helps.




You may or may not be interested in any of my ideas, but I have some that I’m going to use myself that’ll work just fine for me. I have a natural earth backstop in my woods that I use for shooting, and have plans for some basic upgrades that will add some function and comfort. I’m going to take down some strategically located saplings for two purposes: 1- as a stool base onto which I will screw 2" thick wood slices at stool height for seating, and 2- as table legs onto which I’ll screw long boards at table height. If I need extra table legs, I’ll have some sapling posts, and can burn the in-ground length to treat it, and will finish up with some marine grade urethane on all the wood surfacing to help protect it. I have a cured tree conveniently down in my spot, from which to source the wood I need. As I’m repurposing all the materials I can, I have a few shepherd’s hook plant hangers placed about for clipping up targets, and intend to cut a few extra thick wood slices to set up as targets too, and there are always cans, water bottles, and such. Like I said, keeping it simple, but I’m open to ideas as well. Good luck with your range, @Brad.


I built a bench similar in design to the one in the video, I built the right hand model. I ended up replacing the top with a double layer of plywood to get a smooth surface. The grooves created by the lumber always seemed to be catching something or causing some issue that a smooth surface addressed. I wished I had made some over lap on one side of the top to cut notches to hold shotguns while we shoot clay pigeons. I also took the boards that frame in the bottom and moving them up a few inches. My bench is not on a level surface like concrete and the framed in bottom made it wobble. Moving the bottom frame boards up a few inches allowed the weight of the bench to settle the legs in to the ground and provide a stable bench. I would also round over the corners with a router before I stained my bench if I had it to do over again.

I like black gas pipe for target stands. It is easy to replace damaged parts, it breaks down, and it can be configured into different configurations with the same basic parts. Trailer hitch safety chains make good hangers for steel targets and a sheet of cardboard can be attached to the frame to put .22 targets on.



Thanks you, guys. I like a lot of these ideas. Is there an easy way to seal the plywood? I had the same question about the top made of individual boards.

I just used Thompsons Water Seal for decks. The ‘turd’ brown color must not have been very popular because it was on sale for $3 for a gallon. I move my bench in and out of a old corn crib, so it is not constantly in direct weather but it is not completely protected from it either. The top is 4 years old and looks as good as the day I put it on… If your bench is going to be out all the time you may want to look at marine grade plywood or a water proof sub floor type maybe?

Mine too!!! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

On plywood, if all the edges are straight you can use the Liquid nails and a 1" x 2" to act as an edge sealant. Curved edges will require “kerfing” the 1 x 2 so that it can bend and filling the “kerf’s” with the liquid nails.




We’re getting closer…

For hanging targets, are 4X4s needed or 2x4s? We’re thinking of putting up some upside down U-shapes to hang targets on chains from. The idea may be to use the items for mailboxes so that boards can be replaced easily as they rot/get shot. ~$15/each in bulk of 4+, or are they even necessary.


Some interesting options…


I believe that metal was also mentioned.

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hillbilly style setup: only because I’m a busy resourceful individual. That being said, I had an dismantled hillbilly-golf setup in the garage and a quick trip to the lumber/hardware store for some pegboard, chainlink, few bolts/washers/nuts…put it all together and, whaw-lawh #masterpiece in progression, alpha-version-0.2 Yep there’s a second version too, but its pegboard extended arms didn’t fair to well with the smaller AR500 hanging and swinging from accurate firepower hits.

• this setup was good enough for helping me/they to qualify for my/our CCL last fall. A couple extras for this setup included my newish, and overly-taxed_license-sticker-registration @ 655% increase from last yrs’ $18 to this yrs’ $118…yah, let that sink in for awhile there…

…you probably need some more time to process that 655% increase in fees to own a single axial trailer I just bought for $550.

• oh ya, the painter’s cloth tarp was the bomb for collection the brass, however that all good if you like to stand still while shooting.

• I’m retiring the alpha versions…gonna use some wood/metal framing this year.

Note: don’t know how to rotate uploaded images

Thanks for the pics, they’ve shown me some options I didn’t know were out there. The tree targets esp. are something that’ll work well for me.

What are you all using as a backstop in your outdoor ranges?

I have a natural earth backstop, as the land slopes rather sharply down into a little valley. W/o a measurement, it’s roughly 15’ high with 30’+ in length.


Mine will be natural earth also with all targets aimed slightly down and to the outside.