Ever wonder what happens to all that lead we use up target shooting? To be honest, Im not much of a tree hugger but if theres a way to be more ecologically responsible and it also increases safety, then why not. Since Safety is really the most important factor, lets jump in and talk about one of the most important pieces of your airgunning equipment, your pellet trap.
Im mentioned before that my town, Lake Havasu City Arizona, has an ordinance forbidding the discharge of any airgun in town limits. Fortunately that is quickly followed by a list of exceptions, one allowing for target practice on your own property. There are a couple of stipulations to that exception; the most important being that you must capture all your projectiles. If any of them leave your property, you may in in violation of the ordinance.
One of the key commandments of shooting is to know your target and whats beyond. An inadequate means of stopping a projectile could equal property damage, injury, and in some cases, loss of your equipment, severe fines, and jail time. Shooting a high powered air rifle carries with it the same responsibility as shooting a firearm. Anytime we lose sight of that fact, we open ourselves up to a very rude awakening.
The easy way to stop a pellet is with some sort of pellet trap. These are usually always made of metal and are angled to deflect the pellet into a specific, safe direction. Unfortunately, most of what you see on the shelves is just not up to the task of stopping todays modern and powerful airguns. They may be perfectly fine for 500 fps .177 airguns, but the moment you start slamming lead into them at 1000+ fps, their days or numbered. I destroyed at least a dozen cheap traps before I got smart and bought what I really needed.
The product Im referring to is the Champion Rimfire Trap. Now why would I purchase a bullet trap vs a pellet trap? Well if it can stand up to repeated hits from my .22 lr, then it will certainly be able to handle all of my small bore airguns without an issue. In short, it has with 100% reliability.
TheChampion Rimfire Trap is built from heavy gauge steel with an ample opening for 8.5 x 11 landscape targets. Ive shared some of my favorites with AirgunDepot which you can download right from their site. I will usually cut a piece of cardboard to cover the front of the trap and give the target something to back up against. This helps prevent the target from flapping in the breeze.
Once set up, its time to shoot. And you can shoot all you like. You can throw anything short of big bore pellets at this trap and it will just keep smiling and asking for more. The only damage Ive had is that the pellets will knock off the power-coated finish, I think thats pretty much to be expected.
Occasionally Ive had an errant shot and hit the holder. It happens and it can take some creative metal work to get it back into shape, but Ive managed ok so far. The clip is a bit flimsy and it will only take one hit to send it to the trash. I simply switch to a large paper clip, which works just as well.
There is one down side to theChampion Rimfire Trap if you are shooting in close quarters. It has a loud gong or thawng sound when the pellet collides with the trap. The sound of the impact can often exceed the sound of the rifle. There are several ways to overcome this issue. One is to get 1 foam insulation and attach it to the outside walls of the trap with something like liquid nails. This will dampen the vibration and give you more of dull thud vs a loud ringing noise after each shot.
You can also use a couple of bricks of electricians putty slapped on the outside back of the trap. When the pellets hit the inside steel plate, the putty prevents the trap from resonating.
Either method will work, and Im sure many others will too, to quiet down the Champion trap. For me its a tool that I just cant live without. It makes it safe for me to shoot on my property and because its very portable, I take it out into the field when I test airguns at longer ranges.
The final benefit is that you capture your lead. If you are at all interested in reusing all the lead you shoot, then this trap is really the cats meow. Just empty it after each session and when you get enough lead, drop it into your smelter, clean off the junk, and cast your own lead ingots for use down the road. Safety and responsibility is very important and theChampion Rimfire Trap certainly covers both of those exceptionally well.