Being able to get some trigger time right on your own property is a real treat and Airguns go a long way to making that happen. While not every community allows for the discharge of airguns in city or town limits, those that do expect property owners to be responsible about their actions. Most recently we took a look at some basic bb and pellet traps that do a pretty good job at stopping projectiles dead in their tracks and trapping them before they can bounce out and go anywhere they were not intended to go. The one drawback to these is that they are meant for holding and shooting paper targets. What if you want to shoot something a little more “reactive?”
Bigger is probably better…
When I first moved out to Havasu, I contacted the local police department and asked them to come evaluate my range and shooting backstop. At the time, the officer expressed that I had really over-engineered my setup but thanked me for being proactive and respectful of the town ordinances.
What I built some 5+ years ago is still standing strong. I took some leftover sheets of OSB, 2×3’s, and 2x4s that I had lying around and I just started building a frame. I built what I hoped would not only capture pellets, but offer a decently large enough space to be able to shoot more than just paper targets. What I ended up with was a large trap about 5′ tall, 37″ wide and 4′ deep. Most recently I installed a piece of hot-rolled, 11 gauge steel plate that’s 35″ by 33″ and set at an angle. I had to have it custom cut by a local metal fabricator, but it was well worth the cost.
At the front of the trap is a place where I can set my other target traps, knock-down targets, shooting gallery stand, basically anything that I want to shoot and not have to worry about what will happen if I miss. With the addition of the steel plate, I’m able to shoot just about any airgun that I may want, with the exclusion of the higher powered .25 calibers and up. They would be too noisy anyway.
Once a suitable backstop system is in place, then the only limitation is going to be one’s imagination. There are so many great products on the market that offer multiple reactive targets. The Birchwood Casey GRT17 Airgun Gallery Resetting Target is a great example. This target can sit easily in my target box and we can shoot all day without the concern of misses damaging property. Most of the pellets that hit the targets flatten out and safely drop into the box. Occasionally one may bounce a little, but nearly all the energy is absorbed in the target rendering any ricochet essentially harmless. However, it’s always a good practice to wear safety glasses anytime you are out shooting just to be safe.
But, you don’t have to rely on commercially built shooting targets. We’ve found that resting paint balls on top of golf tees offers a great challenge and excitement, especially when you hit one dead on and watch it splatter. All you need to do is take a section of 2×4 and drill some holes for the golf tees to sit into. We buy the tees by the bag down at our local sporting goods store because we inevitably shoot the tops off over time. You can use this same concept with just about anything: hard candy, ice cubes, old fruit, water balloons, etc. Get creative!
Our most recent addition to our shooting gallery has been ice molds. Since we airgun hunters like to take “head shots” I picked a couple of molds that make ice skulls. These are a lot more fun than I would have thought them to be as they really explode into a million little pieces when you hit them dead on. It takes some time for them to completely freeze, but you can make up a bunch of them ahead of time and leave them in the freezer for when you want to go out for some fun.
Be safe, be creative, above all.. Have Fun!
I hope that this short series has been helpful and instructive. The basic concept that I hope to convey is that there’s a lot more to airguns than just shooting paper targets. While that may be what I enjoy most, it’s not the same for everyone and that’s where these ideas come in handy. My wife and daughter really like shooting things that do something, i.e. reactive targets. Setting this up in our front yard has meant that we all do a lot more shooting together, which puts a smile on all our faces.