Building a Shooting Range – Part 2

We are building a new home shooting range, and we’re taking you along for the ride by documenting the process. Welcome to Part 2, or as we like to call it, “Where We Are In The Process as of The End of June.” If you’re new around here, check out Building and Shooting Range – Part 1 to get the full experience. We also started a running tally of the cost of the range so you’ll know what to expect if you are interested in building your own.

Disclaimer repeat: I’m in no way an expert range builder, so take any advice and try any techniques at your own risk!

Step 4 – Trees

I’ve never had more respect for arborists in my entire life. I’ve got trees EVERYWHERE. But that’s a good thing. I wanted a natural barrier to cut down on the sound for my neighbors and keep the range relatively private, so carving out a spot for it in the woods is ideal.

I, once again, enlisted friends help felling, bucking, and limbing the trees on the range. One of the larger trees we felled was about a three-foot wide, 100-foot tall pine that came down like a champ. Even Harry’s Holsters laughed at my excitement of how well the felling of such a large tree went.

I still have quite a few trees left that need to come down to clear the full shooting lane. But I’ve stopped any more tree felling until step 5 is complete.

Step 5 – Under Brush Decisions

Fortunately for me, building a shooting range is a legitimate business write off, but just because it’s a business expense doesn’t mean the money doesn’t have to come from somewhere. It’s nice that I’ll save a little on taxes, but it’s still an out-of-pocket expense.

With that being said, I had to make some decisions about spending money which would save time, energy, and be more efficient than my initial DIY approach.

As you can see above, I have a lot of underbrush, including a number of trees about the diameter of a softball or smaller. Taking these out by hand is easy but requires time and effort including figuring out what to do with them after they’re down. So I decided I needed to have someone come in and take care of the underbrush so I could focus on the big trees on the property.

I reached out to Monster Mulching to come out and handle the underbrush and small trees. Part 3 will feature this phase because it’s awesome to see the before and after photos and video of these forestry mulchers.

But back to Part 2, deciding to underbrush this way wasn’t cheap, so a lot of thorough groundwork needed to be done before he arrived to mulch.

Step 6 – Drainage

The range area is not actually situated on any kind of wetland. It’s situated on the highest pitch of the area but slopes on the backside, which makes it perfect for the back of the berm. The bullet will always be traveling down toward the ground.

However, the entrance to the range is where a drainage ditch should be, so any runoff or excess water can run toward the nearest creek. The issue with where the water is draining currently is that if it rains a few days prior to Monster Mulching coming to mulch the range, he won’t be able to get his several thousand-pound high-pressure hydraulic skid steer through the wet mud.

Once again I had to spend some money. This time on a 15-inch by 20-foot culvert pine, which I would cover with dirt to make a land bridge to access the higher range. But it wasn’t just the culvert pipe that cost some coin. I don’t have an abundance of dirt laying around much less an efficient way to move it (i.e. – skid steer with a bucket or tractor with a bucket). So I got a tandem load of dirt delivered and harrassed my brother until he let me borrow his skid steer. I tried moving some of the dirt by hand… friendly advice – don’t bother.

Recap & Cost thus far

We felled around 15-20 trees of varying sizes since the start of the range project in May. There’s a functional space of around 25 yards that could be used; however, there is not a berm I feel is functional enough to stop rounds at this point. The berm will probably be the last portion of this project. Getting to the berm and working around it will be much easier once the underbrush and trees are not in the way.

The far side of the range has not been touched yet to allow Monster Mulching to handle the bulk of the work since it’s largely small trees and underbrush.

The cost has increased slightly the table below shows the added cost so far in Part 2 and the running total.

 

ItemCost
Stihl Chainsaw$579.95
Culvert Pipe$296.77
Dump Truck Load of Dirt$175.00
Running Total$1,051.72

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