Competitive shooter Dillen Easley shares his thoughts on what his dream practice range looks like:
My teammate and buddy Josh Froelich has me jealous with his current range setup and some changing things where I’m located have me looking at moving and upgrading my range. Here is what I am taking into consideration when looking to build MY dream range.
Ya, the stuff you’re standing on. It makes up the berms on three sides of most ranges. If the local terrain where you are looking to build a competition style practice bay doesn’t automatically offer up plenty of moveable dirt you are going to have to expand your budget and have it brought to you. You may be able to find ads for “free fill dirt” but remember that Diesel is expensive and the drivers aren’t free! My solution was to find an area with a hillside we could cut into in order to move the cut out dirt to the sides for berms and the hill side that gets cut into will make up the back berm. If luck is on my side, we will be able to hit NRA recommended heights (available free from the NRA) without bringing additional dirt in!
This is a practice range and I would love to have a couple of competition level bays that are 50 yards wide and 100 yards plus deep, but it’s not what I need (or want to budget for). For most of the practice I want to accomplish, a 25-30 yard deep bay that is 25-30 yards wide will provide me with more than enough space to practice 180 degrees from side to side for everything but rifle and slug shots on steel. Since this is on private property and the only bay, I can safely shoot in a single direction towards the back berm from outside of that bay for offhand and long range practice.
Within a bay that is 25-30 yards deep, pistol and shotgun practice should be ideal, but ultimately I want to be able to push my rifle distance to 300+ yards. Why? Well, when practicing long range shooting with a BDC style reticle, I prefer to get just far enough out that I have to use the BDC reticle to make those hits. We will be removing a few trees and some limbs to make this happen, while also leaving plenty to maintain shade near the range.
I have two considerations here, target variety and target care. I have a wonderful supply of targets from various static targets, paper target stands, poppers, spring poppers, short range rifle targets that handle abuse like no other, steel challenge style targets, knock down targets, and reactive targets like plate racks, stars, and spinners. If starting FRESH with nothing I would order a handful of paper target stands, 8” static target package, 10” static target package, 12” static target package, and a 12”x20” silhouette static target package. If adding more shotgun and rifle, the spring poppers would quickly go on that list as well. A few 2”x4” boards, some 1”x2” boards, and some cardboard targets and you are shooting just about any drill you desire. Target care is a little different. If you’re like me, you don’t have an enclosure to keep all of your valuable steel in. Rust wastes money. It would take a LONG time to rust through your steel targets, but I don’t like handling rusty steel either. Paint becomes the first thing, and keeping steel off the ground is the next. On my new range, we are trying to cut out a flat section to put weed block down, put polymer load bearing pallets on top of that, and stack steel off the ground when not in use.