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Building Your Own Backstop

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P3990
View as PDF: P3990.pdf

Sometimes it’s hard to find a safe and secure place to shoot. But you can make your own safe backstop without spending much money. Follow these steps and you’ll see that building your own backstop is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Step 1: Location

You will need to scout the area carefully. Make sure you choose a secure location away from roads, outbuildings, or homes of any kind. Be absolutely certain no people or animals are or could possibly be downrange. For any small-bore or muzzleloader activity, make sure you contain a downrange distance of at least 1 mile behind the backstop free of the areas mentioned above.

Step 2: Materials

The following materials will construct a backstop approximately 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall. You can adjust the size of the backstop according to the materials you use. You will need six to eight railroad crossties. Make sure the crossties are sturdy and in relatively sound condition. You will also need four cinder blocks and two 8-foot fence T-posts.

Step 3: Construction

Begin by finding a relatively level section in the area you located in step 1. Place the cinder blocks end to end with the hole-sides down. Remove the back cinder blocks and use a shovel to remove about 1 inch of dirt, then replace the cinder blocks. This will give the needed offset once you start stacking the crossties.

The following photos show how to construct your backstop.

When you’re done, you’ll be ready to begin shooting. We recommend you use this backstop only for small-bore and muzzleloader shooting. Lighter projectiles such as pellets and BBs may bounce off the hard surface.

As always, stay safe and have fun!

In a clearing is a completed backstop. The brown crossties are on cinder blocks with trees in the background.
Figure 1. Space the left and right cinder blocks according to the width of the backstop you are constructing.
The reverse side close-up shows the T-post going through the hole of a cinder block. Two crossties are visibly flush against the T-post.
Figure 2. Next, drive the T-posts into the back left and right cinder blocks. These T-posts provide support for the crossties as they are stacked.
A close-up of the T-post shows how level it is to the crossties.
Figure 3. The T-posts should be level with the back of the top layer of crossties once the structure has been constructed. This is to prevent any ricochet from a projectile striking the metal of the T-post.
Close-up of the stacked crossties shows how they are offset."
Figure 4. Cut the crossties in half and stack them two deep with the long side facing out. As you are stacking the crossties, make sure the seams of the back layer are offset from the front layer. This will prevent a projectile from passing through the backstop.
The reverse side of the completed backstop shows the crossties, both T-posts, and two cinder blocks.
Figure 5. Once completed, the backstop should not be leaning or unstable.

Publication 3990 (POD-03-24)

Reviewed by Reid Nevins, 4-H Environmental Science and Education Specialist, Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development. Written by John Long, PhD, Assistant Extension Professor (retired), 4-H Youth Development.

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Portrait of Mr. Reid A. Nevins
Extension Specialist I
4-H Environmental Sciences

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Portrait of Mr. Reid A. Nevins
Extension Specialist I