Let's build a BB stop! Step 1:
Cut the flaps off the top and
side of a cardboard box, and
set them aside.
In the heart of winter, keep your shooting skills
sharp with an indoor range. Here's how to do it.
Winter? You want to talk about winter?
Most Americans have no idea what
a real winter is all about. (Minnesota
and Montana are obvious exceptions!)
Where I live, the old-timers used to say
that we had nine months of hard winter
followed by three months of tough sledding.
Global warming never arrived at
my house, and it's tough to practice your
shooting skills when you can't feel your
However, there is a solution. Airpowered
rifles are great for indoor
shooting, and any garage, attic or basement
where you can get 25 to 50 feet
of distance will work great as an indoor
range. Unlike rimfire or centerfire firearms,
air guns are safe to shoot without
a ventilation system, because they only
expel air as a propellant.
Setting up an indoor range is easy
and very inexpensive. The first and most
important thing to remember is that
with air guns, any projectile that does
not hit a proper pellet stop has a very
high possibility of a ricochet or bounce
back. This is particularly true with a
BB gun using round steel projectiles.
Get some carpet remnant and cut it
to size. You can use a box flap as a guide.
So, rule number one. Everybody wears
high-quality protective glasses or goggles
at all times. No exceptions; shooters
or any observer watching must wear
eye protection. They do not have to be
expensive shooting glasses. Simply go
to the hardware store and buy safety
goggles or glasses that are rated for
high impact. Make sure that if you buy
glasses they have a tight fit to the face
or have side shields so that your eyes are
protected from any angle.
Also, never shoot at hard targets. Do
not shoot at any metal targets, unless
they are made specifically for air rifles.
Don't shoot at bowling pins and never
shoot at any self-sealing, plastic target
unless it is specifically rated for air rifle
use. Shoot only at paper or cardboard
targets, or at reactive targets designed
for air rifle use.
Step 3: Take ½-inch
wooden dowels and fold
the carpet over them—
or you can attach the
carpet with cable ties.
A good way to protect the walls where
you are shooting is to hang up an old
blanket or quilt, the thicker the better.
Keep it away from the wall by several
inches and just let it hang loose so that
it can move and absorb any hit. That will
not only stop any errant shots that miss
the main target/backstop and protect
the walls from damage, but the energy
is absorbed so that projectiles will not
bounce back at the shooters or other
This is only a safety system, though.
The main target should have a much
more positive pellet stop. There are some
excellent metal pellet traps made for air
guns on the market; some even have
swinging targets built into them. I have
a couple and they work great. My only
complaint is that they are rather small
and easy to miss.
you'd like to hang the
target. Once you know
what position will be
(shown), reattach the box
face and put the target
where you'd like it.
Shipping tape works
better on cardboard
than duct tape.
A homemade pellet stop is much less
expensive and can be much larger. It also
more easily lends itself to using a variety
of targets. The safest and easiest way is
to use a big cardboard box. Hang one
or more pellet stops inside of it. An old
blanket or quilt obviously works. But
one of the best approaches is to get old
carpet samples from your local flooring
store. They are usually eager to get rid
of outdated samples and will be happy
for you to take them off their hands. Suspend
them inside the box with the carpet
side facing you, using a ½–inch wooden
dowel for support. The carpet can be
attached with cable ties. One carpet will
usually work fine, but using two or three
will make sure you stop any pellet. Let
them hang suspended and keep a few
inches between them. A double layer of
cardboard on the box face is a good idea,
so that if a pellet bounces back off the
carpet the cardboard stops it. When the
face of the box gets shot up, replace it
with a new piece of cardboard.
I would resist the urge to build a
more permanent frame from 2X4s as
the wood can cause bounce backs. The
cardboard box is pretty low-tech, but it's
also the safest.
The lead pellets will probably be
deformed enough to prevent future use.
Make sure you clean the pellets up and
dispose of them properly after practice.
We recommend that you sweep them
up and put them in a sealed storage
container, like a glass jar with a screw
top. (The type used for home canning
works quite well.) Lead can be recycled,
so once your jar is full, you can take it to
a recycling center. At press time, lead was
going for $1 a pound. That'll sure help
your new-pellet fund fill up quickly!
With all this fun shooting as a distraction,
before you know it, spring will
arrive and with it...warmth! You will
have a head start on the shooting season
with the skills from a long winter of