Setting up a home airgun range – Part 3Pellet guns

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Pellet guns are the highest form of indoor target guns, even surpassing firearms. They are the most accurate guns at the distances commonly available to indoor users.

Let’s start with the range
The ideal distance for a pellet gun is 10 meters, which is close enough to 33 feet that we use that figure interchangeably. The reason 10 meters is ideal is because all world-class competition is shot at that distance. The targets and scoring devices are all gauged for 10 meters, and the target guns are even called 10-meter airguns. So, you need 10 meters from the firing line (the muzzle of the gun must not pass forward of the firing line) to the target. An additional 3 feet are needed on the target end for trap and backer board and 5 feet on the firing line end for the shooting table (pistols) or stand (rifles). I recommend just using a table for all shooting because it is so handy. Of course, you can get by with less space.

The nice aspect of pellet guns is that pellets don’t ricochet like steel BBs or airsoft BBs. They do break into fragments and even lead dust when the impact velocity exceeds 600 f.p.s., but I am recommending that you shoot guns with lower velocity than that indoors. If you do, all you’ll have is flattened pellets in the target trap. Use lead pellets only, unless local laws force you to use synthetics. I realize this is inside your house, but some places in California have ordinances that restrict clubs to non-lead pellets. Synthetic pellets do ricochet, and they’re not as accurate as good-quality target lead pellets.

Lead indoors
There is little danger from lead pellets indoors, as long as the velocity is kept below 600 f.p.s. However, there are some things to consider. Lead is malleable and some small children like to chew it. If you have an indoor range, it is imperative that small children do not have access to pellets, spent or unfired. If you cannot do that, do not shoot pellet guns indoors. There is virtually no danger from lead dust if the velocity is kept below 600 f.p.s., because pellets don’t start coming apart until they reach that speed. At 800 f.p.s., a lead pellet will explode into tiny fragments and dust and often be accompanied by a bright spark, which is a portion of the dust flashing to incandescence from the heat of impact. To avoid that, keep it slow indoors.

The best trap
The best pellet trap for indoor use is the quiet pellet trap. The impact putty not only stops and holds each pellet, it also makes it impossible for lead dust to form. The downside of this trap, other than the initial cost, is the fact that it must be cleaned periodically. The pellets must be pried out and the putty smoothed over where the holes were. I have owned and used a quiet trap for 8 years, and it’s my favorite trap to use indoors. Besides the lack of impact noise, there’s no mess.

A word to the wise on quiet traps. Some shooters try to avoid the high cost of impact putty by filling homemade traps with modeling clay or plumbers’ putty. Modeling clay doesn’t have the resistance needed to stop pellets above 500 f.p.s. or so. It’s good for very low-powered airguns only. Plumbers’ putty dries out when exposed to the air. It crumbles and will get all over the floor. Don’t use it! Impact putty is actually Duct Seal and costs about $3/lb. unless you buy it in large quantities. But it is by far better than the other two.

Good traps
The next best trap in my opinion is the heavy duty metal trap. That’s because you can use it with every smallbore airgun, regardless of the power. It does make noise when hit, but it will last a lifetime. Mine must have more than a quarter-million shots on it. Except for the peeling paint, it’s still like new. However, if you are shooting under 600 f.p.s., you can get away with a lighter trap that costs less. The Daisy 879 pellet trap is a great trap for guns that shoot slow. My 10-meter club had 10 of them that we used for 20 years for all kinds of training and competition. None of the guns we shot went over 550 f.p.s., and those traps were fine.

Backer board
Behind the trap put the same 3′x3′ backer board that I recommended for the BB gun range. If you think you might shoot a more powerful airgun in the house, use a thicker board. Match the thickness of the board to the power of the gun. The .22-caliber AirForce Condor will shoot through one-and-a-half 2×4 boards at close range, and it can crack a cinderblock with just a single shot. Don’t ask how I know that! So, I recommend sticking with guns that shoot less than 600 f.p.s.

Well that was a big subject! I felt it was necessary for all those who want to build indoor ranges for some lucky person this Christmas.

50 Responses to “Setting up a home airgun range – Part 3Pellet guns”

  • Bob Says:

    Here’s a tip if you are using a steel trap: Go to your local car stereo store and get a square foot of Dynamat acoustic sheet (or whatever brand they have) and put it on the OUTSIDE of the back wall of the trap. This quiets the trap down significantly.

    I actually did this for my outdoor range. I shoot a Talon SS which was plent quiet itself. It was the sound of the pellet hitting the trap that was allerting nosy neighbors.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Bob,

    Thanks for the tip.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    or u could just use a phone book

  • Anonymous Says:

    I shoot my TX200 & 747 at a box stuffed with rags. The only sound is the pellets hitting the paper. When I hit the same spot it is silent. The back of the box is half inch plywood – eventually the rags will wear out.
    Question – how loud is the 2300S compared to these 2 guns?
    Thanks for all your help.
    MCA

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    MCA,

    The 2300S is only a little louder than the TX200. The 747 is a lot quieter.

    B.B.

  • GadgetHead Says:

    Hi B.B.,

    I guess I’m missing an important point here, so I’d better ask. Is there some reason for *not* using a layered ‘curtain’ set up (heavy canvas tarps, blankets, etc.) as the safety backing ‘board’ when shooting BB guns indoors?

    Cheers,
    GH

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    GH,

    No reason at all. In fact, I like it better than a board because the BBs don’t bounce as far.

    Good idea!

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    i was reding a benjamin sheridan manual an dit says noty to shoot at water. why is this? will the pellet bounce off water

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Yes. Water is a hard surface to penetrate. A pellet will skip off like a stone thrown hard.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    b.b.,

    I like to do my own product research, but you could be very helpful with a couple of choices I need to make quickly.

    Can you suggest good scope/mount combinations for the IZH46M and Beeman R7 (.20 calibre)? I’m thinking a red dot would be best for the IZH, and I’ve seen the one that Pyramid includes with their IZH46M, but wanted your opinion as well.

    In both cases, I don’t need anything overly exotic, but want optical quality, reliability and
    durability. With either gun, long range isn’t an issue, most of my shooting is at 10m and 20m.

    I primarily shoot paper targets, and I like open sights, but I have a hard time seeing the black front sight against the black targets and I think the scope (red dot or mil spec) will help.

    Many thanks for your advice, and the excellent blog.

    Brian

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Brian,

    I don’t use optics on handguns so I will have to defer to Pyramyd Air’s selection. Maybe one of our readers has put a dot sight on an IZH 46.

    The Beeman R7 is a different story. You want a scope that doesn’t overpower the small rifle. Normally the Bug Buster would come to mind, but the scope stop is going to position the eyepiece too far forward with that short scope. I think you need a full-sized scope, though not a large one.

    Leapers 4X32 fiull sized scope looks good to me, and it even comes with good mounts.

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=881

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    If I can ask a follow-up Q, I think a variable power scope might work better for my needs, and I’d be interested in a lighted reticle. Any additional suggestions that would be a good fit for the R7?

    Brian

  • mr-lama Says:

    I still say a great pellet gun trap is a good thick phone book. I use one that’s about 4 inches thick and I shoot my remington genesis at 5 yards without it going all the way through. It’s pretty quiet too. I have a pellet trap sitting behind the book just in case, but I haven’t needed it yet.

  • Vince Says:

    BB, I know it’s not related to pellet traps, but there’s 2 breakbarrel pistols I’m thinking about…

    1) IZH 53M

    2) A used Polish Predom – Lucznik “LP53″ copy.

    They’re both about the same – any suggestions? I am looking primarily for a decent practice pistol.

  • Anonymous Says:

    If we are one the topic of scopes, will BKL 253A scope mounts
    (http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=1115) with a Leapers 3-9×40 AO Mil-Dot Scope with R/G (http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=659)
    on a IZH 61?

  • Anonymous Says:

    Lama,

    I checked out the site you recommended on the Talon hop ups and WOW!

    I need more money!!

    Like I said in previous post, I gotta have that AR6. Sooooo…

    I’m ordering both! The AR6 because of it’s 6 shot mag and cool thumbhole stock, with like power. And the Talon SS because the only reason I don’t own one already is it’s strictly single shot. (Plus its a little more tacticle looking than I think the neighbors can handle!).

    The justifiable part of this insanity is that with the two together my purchase should be comparable to a Logun S16(hello, can you here me across the pond?)Which to me was my only other choice. Say, now that I think about it, the weight of the Talon and AR6 combined is less than 4lbs more than the S16!!

    I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait!!!!

    dsw

  • Tom Says:

    BB…Thanks much for your imput on the HW50, realy helped…Everbody likes action targets, try putting rigatoni (stove pipe macaroni) over nails on a board or post at 15+ yards and hitting then off-hand. They explode into a shower of harmless particals, probably ok bird food. Fun.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Brian,

    Then my choice is this 3-9X50 from Leapers:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=658

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Vince,

    The Predom is a copy of the Walther LP53. It is a vintage gun, plus it is Polisg, so how will you get it fixed when it needs attention?

    As much as the LP53 is touted as a “trainer,” I do not find it to be that good. The recoil feels odd – nothing like a .22 rimfire.

    The IZH 53M I have no experience with, but IZH makes a good barrel. I would go with it, unless you want the Predom as a collectible.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Tom,

    I’d like to hear from you when you get the HW 50. And thanks for the target tip. That sounds like fun.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    IZH 46,

    I don’t recommend BKL mounts for anything. They have failed me every time I’ve tested them. So I really cannot comment on your selections.

    It sounds like you want to build an IHMSA Unlimited silhouette pistol. I would research here:

    http://www.ihmsa.org/

    B.B.

  • dbarr Says:

    B.B.,

    Another great blog! I hadn’t realized lead pellets would act that way at higher speeds (I don’t have anything that shoots faster than around 600 fps right now)!

    .22 multi-shot

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    .22 multi-shot,

    It’s not just pellets. I learned this while studying round lead balls. All lead projectiles act this way and at the same impact velocities. It’s just that with airguns we are in the velocity range where it happens. With most firearms the velocities are so high we miss the lower-speed performance.

    B.B.

  • vinceb Says:

    BB, thanks for your input on the pistols. I was wondering about the recoil issue myself.

  • ryan Says:

    I have a benjamin legacy in .22 and I shoot out back with a crosman pellet trap(the strong one with a steel plate and shot curtains)at about 30 yds,it rips through the curtains and right into the steel plate effectiveley even though the curtains are supposed to stop most airguns,but most of the shots look like a molten mess after they hit the steel plate rather than explode.Considering it goes right through 2 layers of heavy shot resistent curtains at 30 yds its one heck of an airgun but the shots seem to melt rather than shatter,I use crossman hollowpoint and beeman kodiaks most of the time.

  • ryan Says:

    I dont know they stopped selling my .22 version of the Legacy but it seems significanty stronger than the .177 version,it gets velocities around the same range as my friends .177 version with the bigger caliber,maybe thats why they stopped selling it.It appears to be a significanty more powerfull gun then the 800 fps advertised for it,although I like that though cause the accuracy is mpersive as well I am very impressed with this gun for its price.Its probably the best gun for the money Ive ever bouht airgun or firearm.

    This thing seems to think its a firearm and its a perfect airgun for Adults that dont wanna spend to much.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Ryan,

    STOP!

    The Crosman 850 BB and pellet trap you are using is for guns with one-quarter the power of your Legacy. What you are doing is dangerous! Your gun will shoot through the thin steel plate before long.

    Get either the Quiet Pellet Trap or the Heavy Duty steel trap for the Legacy.

    B.B.

  • ryan Says:

    Ok thanks for the info good thing I found out now!

  • StiCkY Says:

    I used to use a homemade trap that worked quite well with my Sheridan 392. it consisted of a little box * little bigger than a phone book* and stuff it with around 2-3 phone books, it worked quite nice, the only problem was that it got kind of messy as it got shot more and more, as little pieces of paper would go everywhere… but it stopped the pellets! lol

  • Anonymous Says:

    can anyone tell me about the bam b-30 .22

  • Curtis Says:

    Hello BB,

    I am new to this forum and I’m afraid that I posted my question to you in an old blog spot. So…, here goes again: I just got done placing an order with Pyramid Air for a Drulov DU-10 which I happen to think is very attractive and looks to be accurate. I would use it for indoor target practice to improve my aim when I cannot get to the pistol range (cold weather). However, I noticed from your article on the Drulov that it seems to be intended only for wadcutter pellets. Is that correct, or can domed pellets be counted on to work with the semi-auto action of this pistol as well? I noticed later after placing the order, that Pyramid also sells the Tau 7 in 22 cal. (as a single shot). It occured to me that the Tau could serve as the same role for training as well as be used for silhouette shooting (a pursuit that I am considering becoming involved in). Anyway, I would appreciate your commentary on these questions and I thank you for your time and attention.

    Regards,

    Curtis

  • Anonymous Says:

    The shooting range of my shooting club has 25 meters long. I shoot airguns there. Some mates shoots fire-pistols there without any danger. My question is : CAN I SHOOT MY MARLIN 30/30 which is as you know a firearm WITHOUT ANY DANGER in this place ? I mean is there any risk that the bullet may ricochet and come back to me ? I questioned the boss in charge of the club who told me that this has never happened before.. Many thanks for your answer ! ERIC

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Eric,

    As long as you are shooting into an earth berm of sufficient thickness, it’s okay. The berms at my range at 15 feet of earth. They are also 15 feet high, but we don’t shoot above 7 feet.

    The distance is of no concern. Shooting into earth, there is no way a bullet can bounce back. Now if you were shooting into rocks, it would be different. I shoot a .45/70, .30/06, 7.5 Swiss and 6.5 Swede into similar berms.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.

    what would you think about getting a standard bullet box and placing it along a shelf system backed with 1/4″ plywood. then 4″ styrine. do you think this could possibly stop a lead pellet at about 600 f.p.s? I am on a varsity marksmanship team for my school and want to do shooting in my off time with a pump bb gun just to keep my technique down. would this be sufficiant?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    I’m confused, You mentioned lead pellets at 600 f.p.s., then you said a pump BB gun. I cannot recommend any hard bullet trap for a BB gun, as the steel BBs will rebound with force.

    If we are talking about a pellet rifle, then yes, a standard firearm bullet trap is more than adequate.

    I assume that’s what you mean by a “standard bullet box.”

  • Anonymous Says:

    i mean it is a bb gun but i will not shoot bb’s. just load the .177 cal lead pellet in the breech and fire. i hope to someday soon get a german made anshutz. do you think that the backing would need a metal plate at all??

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    You said you were going to use a “standard bullet box,” which I took to mean a firearm bullet trap. I don’t know what a bullet box is.

    You definitely need a metal trap to stop pellets at 600 f.p.s. Pellets will tear through 1/4″ plywood pretty fast.

  • Dmitri Says:

    B.B.

    What paper would you recommend for printing targets? Some pellet trap manufacturer (http://www.archerairguns.com/trap.html)
    recommends to print targets on 67 pound card stock paper so that they could be used without cardboard backing. In my experience such targets tear pretty badly, not as badly as targets printed on regular cheap 20 pound paper though.

    Also, what is the best setup to achieve perfect round easy to score holes? I understand that if I take a standard NRA target and put in on a new piece of cardboard, the holes will be perfect. But are there any other more simple options? My special concern is the backing that wears out very fast and takes time to replace.

    I am shooting Daisy 953 from around 15 meters and using Gamo Match wadcutter pellets.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Dimitri,

    I’ve never tried printing targets, but 100-pound cover stock might work okay. It’s about as heavy as regular target paper.

    The key to not tearing the paper is to use short-grain paper instead of long-grain.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    About the impact putty-
    Will lead dust form if using a gun over 600 fps?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    No dust, even at 1,000 f.p.s.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi, Does the pellet create lead dust from friction with the barrel, and might it be blown into the air from the muzzle? Thanks.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Yes, there is some lead dust created when a pellet gun fires. The amount is miniscule.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    thanks for the reply. i bet oiling barrel and pellets may reduce this amount further.m

  • kevin Says:

    Anonymous,

    Re: Oiling barrel and pellets

    Please don't oil your barrel. It's likely that you will cause dieseling at best and detonation at worst. Not only will this affect accuracy it could hurt your gun especially if you're shooting a springer.

    If you insist on lubing your pellets please use the search box on the right and type in "lube pellets" or "lubing pellets". You'll find suggestions on whiscombe honey and krytech among others to use in lubing pellets. It's unnecessary in your gun shooting around 600 fps but if you're concerned about the miniscule amounts of lead dust consider lead free pellets or harder pellets, like crosman premiers, that aren't 100% lead.

    kevin

  • Anonymous Says:

    what about the crosman phantom 1000 what could i do in a basement

  • Vince Says:

    The heavy-duty trap that BB references will catch .22 LR rimfire rounds… use that and you won't have a problem.

    There are other solutions – a nice, thick wood backstop that will eventually get shot to pieces and have to be replaced, or a box full of gravel that will eventually get shot to pieces and have to be replaced. You can use the 'silent' pellet trap (search for it if you don't know what it is), but it will have to be serviced occasionally.

    Get the .22 trap, use it forever and never have to worry about it. It looks like pyramydair doesn't have it in stock right now, but other outfits do.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I made an indoor airgun target that was FREE and worked real well.

    Simply take a large cardboard box, fill the real wall with 3" of magazines OR a couple old phone books. Staple tagets on the front, good to go. A heavy blanket as a backdrop will catch any strays.

    Think safety though, there ARE airguns that are capable of 500 – 1200 fps and are equal to a real firearm. The target I built is for Daisys Crossmans etc.

    Have fun

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB

    What if I use 2 inch pine board as a backstop and replace it when saturated.
    Will this create lead dust with 1000 fps pellets.

    Thanks!

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    The wood will keep the lead dust down, but you will shoot through it in less than 100 shots. Duct seal is far better.

    B.B.

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