Building a backyard air pistol range

I bought a MatchGuns MG1 air pistol at the Arizona Desert Midwinter championship earlier this year. But, until recently, I had not taken advantage of this pistol. Primarily because I didn’t feel like I had a good setup in the backyard.

For example, here’s a photo of my backyard from a period where we were having some work done.

The backyard while getting some work done

This photo is looking from the back of my house to the alley. What this picture doesn’t illustrate is:

  • Past that chain link fence is an alley way that people often drive or walk down
  • Past the alley and the bushes is a park
  • Just a few feet past my fence line on the right there is a dog pen with a couple of dogs
  • My neighbor to the right has a couple of kids that play in the yard
  • I also have a neighbor to the left

I didn’t want to shoot the air pistol in my back yard and risk 1) accidentally hurting someone or 2) scaring a passerby that then called the cops, even though shooting air pistol on one’s own property is legal in my city.

With that in mind, I began planning how I could setup the backyard in a way that I’d feel comfortable shooting air pistol.

Privacy fence

When thinking about the above issues, the first thing that came to mind was, “Boy, it sure would be nice if I had a privacy fence.” A privacy fence would act as a backstop to ensure that any misses stayed on my property AND it would block passersby from being able to see me shooting in the backyard. ?

So… we had one built. ? The picture below is from roughly the same place as the picture above, but looking toward the back left corner of my backyard.

A picture of the backyard before the staining was complete

To be clear, we didn’t have the privacy fence put up solely so that I could shoot. It’s something that we’ve talked about in the past. But, wanting to shoot air pistol in the backyard was definitely the motivation that I needed to actually get the fence built. ?

Setting up the target

While researching some options for setting up the target for my air pistol range, probably the best article that I found and read was the safe backstops and bullet traps article on Pyramd Air. The article makes several suggestions, but what stood out to me were the several mentions of the Champion trap in the comments.

This trap is made from steel and is rated to stop .22 caliber bullets. So, it seemed like a safe option for stopping .177 pellets. ?

The issue that I ran into once I got the trap was how to set it up…

At first, I thought about just mounting the trap to the fence directly. But, I didn’t like this option because it would have added significant weight to our new fence.

Then, I thought about adding a folding table to the fence, after reading this blog post, so that I could place the trap on the fence when necessary. But, in the end, I decided against this option because it would minimize my options for a backstop (in case I missed the trap).

So, I put things off for a bit. One day, while out running errands, I noticed that several stores were putting fence posts in buckets and filling the buckets with concrete in order to cordon off areas and/or post temporary signs. This was during the coronavirus pandemic after all…

After seeing this at several stores, it clicked that I could do the same thing in my backyard so that I ended up with a functional, movable trap holder.

So, without further ado, here are a couple of pictures with the trap stand that I created, with and without the trap mounted.

While the trap is portable, I did pick the above location for a reason. ? Specifically, since my carport is behind the target, that means that a missed shot would need to make it through two layers of privacy fence, and possibly my car, to end up in my neighbor’s yard.

Here’s a selfie with the trap in the background.

Disregard the dog in the background. I shoo him off before shooting 🙂

Future work

I’m liking my backyard and air pistol range. But, nothing is perfect. ?

One thing that you may notice in the pictures above is that there is very little protection against errant shots that go high. Personally, I don’t expect to shoot a shot wide enough that it misses the trap. But, shit happens. _(?)_/

One thing that I’d like to do in the near future is add a backstop that 1) protects the fence and 2) adds some protection above the fence line. Until I have that backstop in place, I don’t plan on letting anyone else shoot my air pistol in the backyard. ?

One response to “Building a backyard air pistol range”

  1. Temporary idea…place square hay bales behind trap to stop ant strays

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