Shooting at home in the back garden is one of the biggest attractions of airgunning… and setting up your own range is simple, says Mark Camoccio
It just has to be the number one priority. Airguns are super-flexible as to where they can be used, but there can never be any compromise on safety. In fact, the relative quietness of many airguns can lull people into a false sense of security. However, at point blank range legal-limit guns will penetrate thin metal plate, so a strict safety regime must be adhered to, and the implications for a home range have to be considered at every turn. It is absolutely vital that no one must be able to walk into the firing line.
We need a safe location, clear from any object that can get damaged. When setting up in a suburban environment, where gardens lie alongside each other, it’s crucial to keep the range low profile and out of the neighbours’ sight. Not everyone shares our enthusiasm for shooting! Indeed, many people will understandably panic at the thought of someone shooting nearby or even remotely in their direction.
3. ACCESS DENIED
We’re back to safety. On my home range I’ve often shot down a side path, alongside the house, to provide greater distance. However, any doors left open and unlocked will introduce the chance of a disaster. So lock any door from the outside and leave the keys also on the outside. It’s also a good idea to place warning signs across any access door.
4. PELLET CATCHERS/TARGET HOLDERS
There’s a plethora of inexpensive target holders/catcher boxes on the market and most should do the job well. But I’d suggest paying a bit more and getting a durable product made from thicker gauge steel.
Soundproofing the target box makes sense for several reasons. Firstly, the box will last longer because the padding will absorb much of the impact. Secondly, the slim chance of any ricochet will be minimised. Just as importantly as these points, the typically loud impact noise will be significantly reduced, which in turn will help to keep your neighbours happy.
6. ABSOLUTE BACKSTOP
For home ranges I prefer the padded target box (see picture, right), best sited in front of a total backstop consisting of a large plate of metal (pellets will eventually eat through wood). The side of a disused fridge is absolutely ideal, but be wary of using hardwood, which can cause ricochets. Remember: the final backstop is a belt and braces addition for total safety; shots shouldn’t get past the box.
For back garden shooting a silencer, especially when fitted to a PCP, can make a huge difference to the muzzle report. Neighbours will understandably get tired of hearing repeated cracks and bangs from your range, whereas the dramatically muted ‘phut’ of a silenced PCP can go almost unnoticed. Yes, we have a right to shoot, but we also need to keep the peace!