Outdoor FT target Backstop/Trap requirements
Our club is forcing us to place a pellet trap or similar backstop behind every FT target. There are no houses or roads in the direction we shoot. It is a wooded lot abutting non club private land with no structures.
I have shot in 5 or 6 states at several clubs and never shot an outdoor course with such a requirement. Our Club "Board" ( all trap/high power shooters) now wants such behind every target.
Does anyone else out there do this for a 6 times a year, one day competition ( with 6 to 10 attendees) or should I find another venue/club?
I have adequate land to do set a course on my property and can afford the targets ($400) and the $100 a day porta potty fee, ( ~$1k for 6 shoots) but additional Liability insurance is around $250 per event or two to three times that for a yearly policy. So I would be looking at first year startup costs of $1.8k to host 6 shoots. My recurring costs would be about $225/ shoot.
I've not been to any clubs that impose such a requirement on FT shooters although there may be some out there. The thing though with rifle/gun clubs is that FT is simply not understood at the beginning with most of them, and they need time to figure out what it's about. You don't say in your post how you and the club's board have been communicating. If you haven't had a meeting with them yet there may be a misunderstanding about the power of FT rifles and you might consider doing a demonstration with a target so they can understand what is going on to get them to change course on the backstop requirement.
If they persist in the requirement and don't define what is needed for a backstop, you can make a minimal backstop with 1'x1' backboard with a way to stand it up, or even an L shape with two boards and the target mounted on the bottom of the L.
Some more background. We have been running FT shoots there for 4 years, and now suddenly they require this. They are ignorant and refuse to be educated. They "researched" airguns on the internet that air rifle pellets can travel up to 800 yards. Doesn't matter we are shooting down at targets in Hunter classes and down or level with other classes and limited to 20 FPE. We have only 4 elevated targets on our course. Elevated targets have a plywood backstop as per their previous request to not harm the trees they are attached to (the lead pellets will stain the wood and reduce their lumber value). They were talking having a dirt Berm behind each target. This would result in fixed unchanging distances on each lane, ( like the rifle range) this would totally eliminate the ranging aspect of the FT game as each target would have to be placed directly at the foot of the berm.
We host matches on our own leased land and in some areas I'm more concerned than others, about the lead fragments created at the target... (especially where my chickens are grazing). I've designed and used target houses to collect the lead fragments and also keep the targets out of the weather. The houses can be mounted in a tree or on a post, or on the ground and are heavy enough to be secure for the string pulling without stakes. The roof lifts off for target maintenance.
A lot of the shooters don't like the extra shade, especially if you don't get the target close to the front of the box. I made a model with a sky lite shinning light on the back of the target thru the kill zone, and that was really cool and shooters liked that one for sure.
This for sure increases your investment and might not work for your budget.... but if on your own land, you save time in the long run because you can leave your targets out and just move them around to keep them guessing the distances.
I don't know if you folks have ever looked at how small the lead gets fragmented when it hits the steel. It does make quite a mess at the target. On a gun range where they plan for the lead clean up every few years, it's one thing, but on your own land, where your animals graze around your targets, I'd be concerned. And someday, I can go and collect all the lead and melt it down into 45 long colt bullets for my center fire guns.
We "had" this requirement here. We cut 1/2" outdoor ply down, added a leg, and placed it behind the far targets in the woods. Did this for a couple shoots and then never did it again and the club never said anything.
They honestly can't expect that all lead will be contained, so that isn't the issue. Most likely they're just wanting to be assured that no projectiles leave the property.
I have been running field target matches for 30 years and never had to put a backstop behind the targets. Rifle shooters don't understand the limited power and range of the airguns we use and the pellets don't go any farther than the shot used in trap shooting assuming that they are actually shot up into the air. Once in a great while I have put some sort of backstop behind a target if I thought it could ever be an issue. I did put a piece of Masonite in a tree one time because of the possible trajectory of a miss. I would not totally stop a pellet but it would render it pretty harmless after in went thru the Masonite. We have done other things depending on the specific condition but it has never been a requirement. A bale of hay should work fine. Even if the pellet got thru it there would not be much energy left.
Incidentally the NRA range construction guide says if there is nothing down range of an airgun range a backstop is not necessary.
Wayne, thanks for your reply. Can you provide some dimensions of your "Houses"?
We made them different sizes, but basically, just big enough to let the target fall and be reset. Some targets are taller than others. I really like the "rat on the run" from air venturi. They have thicker face plates and kill paddles (no kill paddles shot thru at 10 yds like a gamo will do) and a low profile so they won't rattle down with a miss like a gamo can at times.
I think they were about 13" square and 11 or 12" high. We made both a gable roof and shed roof model... careful on the shed roof to make sure the pitch is not too steep of the target can hit the roof when falling. A gable roof gives clearance the full way back, but is more labor to make.
I have lots of scrap lumber to work with so I made some from 2x6 T&G lumber and some from 1x6 T&G. The 2x6 never got shot thru, but the 1x6 did on some close boxes where they were hit in the same place over and over. If using plywood, then it should be at least 3/4" CDX.
I made some simple shed roof models with a 1/8" thick tempered glass roof, since I had a bunch of pieces that were about the right size... they really let the light in and I never had a piece break from pellet fragments. Plexiglas is expensive, but might work.. not sure.. should not break, but would most likely get real cloudy over time from pitting lead fragments.
It's most likely only worth it if you lease or own the place you shoot and can leave them out in the weather year round.... ready to shoot anytime you want. If you add up all the time setting and taking down targets, it's starts to make sense, if on your own property.
Years ago Illinois used 1/4 of a 55 gallon drum as backstop. A cutting torch was used to cut in 1/2 lengthwise and then these 2 were cut in 1/2. It worked great. A simpler backstop would be to just assemble some pressure treated 2 x 12 boards together to about a 24" wide X 36" tall shaped in "L" shape. These could be easily moved anywhere.
Jeff P, no backstop for trap just out onto club property. Also a pond in general direction of trap shooting on some shots but they may be using non lead shot so the wetlands are protected don't know and don't want to.
Thanks all for your replies, seems we have some conveyor belt 2' x 2' that we need to fabricate a frame/hanger for. Then we will see if they leave us to hold shoots or come up with another hurdle.
I seriously do not think trap shooters use steel shot for practice. If your sportsman’s club does sporting clays, five stand and skeet, everyone of those shotgunners use lead shot. I believe they think air guns are as powerful as rim fire ammo. I would just place one foot square 3/4” plywood behind each target and call it done. I hope you are not being undermined by other members of the your own club. I have seen it happen in person.
Are you sure this club isn't located in Canada? 🤣
We went through similar troubles years ago, but were thankfully able to work with the Chief Firearms Officer to develop a set of range guidelines for sub 20fpe air rifles - previously they were lumping FT in with .22lr range requirements. 573 yards is the maximum distance a .22 pellet will travel at 20fpe when shot at 26 degrees incline. For shooting shotgun trap, the fallout distance is about 300 yards if I remember correctly.
We weren't allowed to place backstops behind targets unless it was a full dirt berm, which is extremely expensive and must be of a certain height to be effective.
The CFO explained that they must approach things from a 'worst case scenario' point of view, meaning someone is down range, looking up and a pellet lands in their eye. Even through the range is in a densely wooded area and there's no chance a pellet could exit without striking any of the trees/leaves/etc. they had to assume that it could.
We also had to allow for 200 yards of wind drift on either side of the range - I'm guessing this was just in case we were shooting during a class 5 hurricane 🤨.