Setting up a home airgun range - Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, Gamo has issued a recall of certain air rifles. This was originally issued in October 2006, but it's been reissued along with the gun serial numbers affected.
The recalled air rifles are the following GAMO models: Hunter Pro, Hunter Sport, Shadow Sport and F1200. These models bear the serial numbers 04-IC-415577-06 through 04-IC-579918-06. The model and serial numbers can be found on the left side of the barrel just above the front left side of the stock. Models Shadow Sport and F1200 look identical. Sold by: Sporting goods stores and gun shops nationwide from June 2006 to September 2006 for between $150 and $280. Model F1200 was sold exclusively at Wal-Mart stores. Manufactured in Spain.
The scope mount on these rifles can be installed incorrectly, causing the rifle to fire unexpectedly. This poses a serious injury hazard to consumers. GAMO has received one report of an air rifle firing unexpectedly. No injuries have been reported.
Contact Gamo USA (http://www.gamousa.com) for instructions.
Now, on to today's blog.
With Christmas bearing down on us, a lot of parents and grandparents are thinking about getting an airgun for some lucky shooter. Some of these folks will want to shoot inside the house, but they don't know how to set up a safe range.
What kind of gun?
There are three basic airgun types to consider when setting up an indoor range - BB guns, pellet guns and airsoft guns. They are each so different that I will address them separately, starting with the BB gun.
BB guns come in power levels ranging from under 200 f.p.s to over 700 f.p.s. For indoor use, I would keep the muzzle velocity below about 450 f.p.s., and below 300 f.p.s. is even better. You don't need a lot of velocity to shoot at the short range recommended for indoors, and safety is always a prime consideration. When you buy that present, look at the muzzle velocity if indoor shooting is what you want to do.
Don't shoot your eye out!
Steel BBs bounce back from hard surfaces such as steel, concrete, boards and trees. They can come straight back with nearly the same force they left the muzzle. For this reason, everyone in the area where shooting is taking place has to wear protective shooting glasses. This is nothing to be lax about. The danger is real, and every shooter knows that glasses are supposed to be worn whenever firing a gun, but it's just as important that the other people in the area wear them, as well.
A place to shoot
You need a safe place to shoot and about 20 feet from the muzzle of the gun to the target, if possible, though you can get by with less if necessary. Then, you need about three more feet for the target trap and backer board and five more feet for the firing line. Altogether, that comes to 28 feet of linear distance. The lighting should be low for the firing line and bright on the target. When shooting BBs, paper targets are one of the few things that are safe to shoot indoors.
Your shooting place should not allow people to be downrange while you are shooting. If there is a door downrange, or if you shoot down a hallway with doors you must make sure there are no people who can open the doors while you are shooting. If the door leads outside, it's best to lock it while shooting takes place.
A BB trap
Because BBs bounce back, you cannot use a conventional steel bullet or pellet trap. One good BB trap is Crosman's model 850 BB and pellet trap. It has cloth curtains to stop the BBs; and if you tilt it slightly backwards, the BBs will remain inside. To help keep them inside, you can lay a rubber magnet strip on the floor of the trap.
The other good BB trap is the AGE Quiet Pellet Trap. This trap is capable of stopping BBs from the most powerful BB guns, but I still don't recommend shooting powerful guns indoors because of how much the BB will bounce if you miss the trap. After a lot of shooting, BBs have to be removed from this trap's impact putty to prevent bounceback.
A backer board
Behind the BB trap, you'll put a backer board, so if the trap is missed the BB won't hit anything in the house. A thin piece of plywood, about 3 feet square is fine for this. I didn't have any plywood handy when I made my range, so I used a 5/8" thick slab of particle board. Of course, a BB will bounce off this board, so I slant mine away from the firing line at the top. Just leaning it back against a wall takes care of that. Most BB guns are not accurate, so this board will be hit about one time in every 100 shots, and those BBs will bounce around the room. That's why everyone wears shooting glasses.
Setting up a shooting range for BB guns in the home is not difficult, but there are special steps that must be taken. Remember, it isn't a shooting gallery - it's a small range for one shooter, and paper targets are the only safe things to shoot at. If you choose a BB gun with a modest velocity, your in-home range will be safe and fun. Be sure to read the Home IS the range! article on this website.