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Bulding range with railroad ties

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by badbowtie, Feb 6, 2013.

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  1. badbowtie

    badbowtie Member

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    I am inproving my shooting range I have at my house. I have a shooting bench that we shoot rifles at and is right at 50 yards. We also walk up closer to range to shoot handguns. I have a hill in the back yard that I am digging out. I am about 25 feet long in the hill and the back part is already about 5 feet deep. I am going to try to get down closer to 7 feet and then will stack railroad ties up and then back fill behind them with all the extra dirt. I am just looking for some ideas of people that have done something similiar so all the railroad ties don't fall forward into the range.
     
  2. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

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    You’ll need a solid footing (compacted soil or stone depending on ground conditions). First tie needs to be below ground and if you’re in an area with really cold temps, it will need to be below the frost line. About 2/3 way up, you’ll need some type of tie back to deadmen. Treated wood or lond ties would work. The length of the tie backs should be at least the height of where they are in the wall face. As I stacked the ties, I would offset the next course a little; maybe ½”. That will give the wall some batter. The soil used to backfill needs to be some type of well draining soil (exp: sandy soil would be great; fat clay would be bad). A perforated pipe with some stone around it laid at the toe of the wall would be a good idea.

    If you’re shooting at a target that stops the bullet (like shooting steel) and the ties are just there to stop misses, then this would probably work great. If the ties are there to stop all bullets, you’ll need to design it where single ties can be replaced without dismantling the wall. That will add a lot of expense because you’d probably have some type of vertical frame and attachment hardware.

    Best route may be to just keep it soil and maintain it with a tractor w/ front bucket or hire someone with a bobcat to come out as needed to freshen up the berm.

    Good luck.
     
  3. badbowtie

    badbowtie Member

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    Well I will be shooting metal swinging targets sometimes I also will be punching paper. I figured the ties will start to get tore up and will have no easy way of replacing one tie. But I am not sure are we talking 100,000 rounds or 1,000 rounds to destroy one. So you are saying scrap the tie idea and just leave it all dirt. I do have a tractor with a front end loader which is what I am using to dig all this. I will try to post a picture later tonight of how far I am I am going to try to go dig for another 1 hour today.
     
  4. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Most of us put our targets at one particular height which works well for us. Worse is that we generally put them at the same spot as well. So that one area gets hit with the equivalent of dense fire over the course of a year. Under this type of treatment the ties directly behind the target locations would get "chopped" out in short order. Even if you move the targets around horizontally if you are a fairly frequent shooter I doubt if the ties would last much longer than a couple of years.

    Loose, sandy soil free of fist or larger size rocks makes a great backstop if it's kept piled to the maximum slump line. If you want to shorten this then use the railway ties to make a short retaining wall at the base, then sandy dirt fill in behind and angled up from there. You want the bullets to pass over the short retaining wall and bury in the dirt. If you want to set the backstop further into the hill then a short wall up front and a taller wall set back by about 8 feet that extends up far enough to retain the hillside and built as suggested above would work. The backfilled area between the short front and tall back wall would then be your bullet stop. But obviously it's a LOT less work to just put in a short retaining wall and some target stand holders and let the bullets pass through the target paper and into the otherwise unmolested hilside.

    Ideally you'd de-rock the surface now and then to aid in avoiding nasty ricochets.

    So all in all your best bet might be to simply leave the hill alone or to just carve out a setback and use the dirt to extend out some side berms and then de-rock the back stop zone.
     
  5. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    Question for the OP

    Where do you live. I know I wouldn't have wanted masses of RR ties or former power poles on property that I had in California and Minnesota.

    Ground water contamination, known carcinogens... Things like that came up with neighbors in both states.

    Hopefully you're somewhere like uber-rural/agricultural but you might wanna check it out.

    My uncle ran into issues with tires in Minnesota as well as his creosote soaked cast-offs used on his hobby-farm.
     
  6. labhound

    labhound Member

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    My range, 7' high ties and two dumptruck loads of dirt.

    653295[/ATTACH]"]http:// Pistolrange016.jpg 653297[/ATTACH]"]http:// Pistolrange007.jpg 653299[/ATTACH]"]http:// Pistolrange008.jpg
     

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  7. badbowtie

    badbowtie Member

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    I live in indiana in a rural area so no problems there. I got a little bit more dug last night and did not quit till dark so I was not able to get a picture. I may have to ge rent or borrow a backhoe it is just so muddy up there I am just sliding around with my 4x4 tractor. I am still thinking using railroad ties and maybe while punching paper have the hanging targets behind it. I have allot of rock in this hill so atleast the ties will block all the rocks not going to haul dirt in. I just have to decide how I am going to tie them back into the hill so I can back fill behind it and above it with out it falling face first in range.
    Labhound I found them pictures of yours while I was searching that is nice and looks like it works well. Are the 4x4 or 6x6 concreted in the ground if so how far down are they.
     
  8. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    Set posts to hold the stack of ties. I used 2 sections of power poles and stacked RR ties in front and behind the poles, drove spikes in the ends and wired the ties tight front to back. The post sized gap between stacks was filled with sand. You can add a second front stack if you want. Nail scrap plywood to the face.
     
  9. scaatylobo

    scaatylobo Member

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    Did not work for me

    I built a R.R. tie range a few years back and did not use the R.R.ties as was pictured above.

    I used them as the front of the range and I shot them to pieces in less than 2 years.

    I was the only one shooting at them and no I did not shoot a million rounds either.

    Good luck with your endeavor.
     
  10. pendennis

    pendennis Member

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    See if you can find someone who supplies shredded tires. They make a great backstop, and absorb bullets easily. The more the shreds get shredded, the better they stop.

    We just did it at our club, and in a few years we'll only need to replace the rubber; far cheaper than replacing the fill.
     
  11. TACOJOE

    TACOJOE Member

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    Be careful bowtie,don't you know that " semi automatic weapons can blow up train tracks and shoot down airplanes"
     
  12. labhound

    labhound Member

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    badbowtie I used 10' 6x6 posts, 3' in the ground, no concrete, each railroad tie level pinned to the one below with rebar and every 3rd level bolted to the posts. I strapped the top level of the three sides together with two pieces of iron to keep them from separating.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  13. cleardiddion

    cleardiddion Member

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    I say one factor in how well the ties hold up depends on the condition.

    They did of lot of track work for the Front Range this past year and most of the ties which they were replaced were to say the least in abysmal condition.

    Something about being beat for years and the combination of creosote and diesel doesn't do them any kindness.

    One setup I saw had the ties set in vertically like fence posts so that when they needed to be replaced they could just pull them out in ones and twos so that might be one route that you can consider.
     
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