A backyard shooting range can keep you sharp

Even in Wyoming, sometimes it’s hard to find a place to practice your shooting. But to be a good hunter, you need practice.

I realize this idea won’t work for everyone, but if you have a handful of acres and live outside city limits, you might be able to build your own backyard shooting range.

All you need is a little bit of space, a good backstop, a sturdy bench, some targets, and understanding neighbors. Well, I suppose a shootin’ iron or two would be handy, too, as well as a stockpile of ammo. A big stockpile, if you have your own range, because you’re likely to run through it at a pretty good clip.

The first thing you need to find out, though, is if having your own range is legal where you live. Check with the county to be sure you’re not going to be violating any statutes. It’d be a shame to do all the work and then find out you can’t use it.

In most counties, the answer you’re likely to get will be that you’re free to set up a range, as long as it’s safe. Safety is the number-one consideration. When you’re laying out your shooting lanes, be sure there’s absolutely nothing behind your backstop other than dirt. A good hill is your best bet, but only if there’s nothing behind it. You don’t want a stray ricochet to blip over the rise and cause any damage on the other side.

Once you get that all figured out, build a backstop. The most common berm is simply dirt piled up behind your targets. If you go that direction, try for a pile that’s about 8 feet tall and about 12 feet thick at the base. You also can use railroad ties stacked up, or even piles of tires with sand poured into them.

For the bench, you can get by with a picnic table, and you can make target frames with a few two-by-twos and not have to worry about breaking the bank.

Then get to shooting. You might invite the neighbors over as often as possible to keep them happy, though.