How to Build a Backyard Shooting Range Backstop with Tires: The Complete DIY Guide

Paul West/ Backyard Construction

** NOTE: This Article Is For Our United States Readers – It Is Not Legal To Shoot Guns In The Back Garden In The UK **

Key Takeaways

  • Used tires can create an affordable and durable backstop when stacked and filled properly.
  • Prepare the site by leveling the ground and clearing debris to prevent ricochets.
  • Overlap at least 5-6 layers of tires, filling voids between them densely for maximum bullet stopping.
  • Install plywood facing angled down 20-30 degrees to further absorb shots without fragmentation.
  • Follow all shooting range safety protocols such as controlled access, direction, and protective gear.

Why a Tire Backstop is a Great Choice

One of the big advantages of using tires for a backstop is that they are free or super cheap to get. By recycling old tires, you save money over buying expensive materials. Tires are also very durable, absorbing thousands of rounds before needing replacement. Unlike sandbags or straw bales, you can reuse tires for many years. The material is great at stopping bullets without dangerous ricochets. And you can stack as many layers as you need to reach any size. Overall, a tire backstop gives you an affordable DIY option.

Preparing Your Backyard Shooting Range Site

Before setting up your backstop, you first need to scout out the right location. Check your local laws, as some cities prohibit shooting ranges, even on private property. If legal, pick a site that has a long clear distance from the firing line to the backstop. This allows the bullets to lose energy and be safely contained. Try to position the range facing away from roads, buildings and people. Also consider noise rules if near neighbors.

Once you pick your spot, level the ground leading up to the backstop. Clear away any bushes or debris which could create ricochets. Then leave plenty of open space behind the backstop for stray bullets to fall without hitting anything. Take the time to prep the site right and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your range is safe.

Gathering Materials and Supplies

One of the great things about a tire backstop is you likely have most of what you need already. Start collecting used tires – 5 or more layers is ideal. Focus on car and light truck tires as they have the best size and surface area. Ask at garages and car shops if they have any old tires to give away.

For fill material, you can use bagged play sand from the hardware store, pea gravel, or simply packed dirt. Have a shovel on hand for filling and maintenance.

You’ll also need some sturdy wooden posts set in concrete to hold the stacked tires in place. These need to be long enough to secure at least an 8 foot wide section.

For the facing, plywood works well, preferably 3/4 inch thick. A solid wood facing prevents ricochets and protects the tires. You can also use old conveyor belting or a thick rubber mat.

And lastly, get safety gear like shooting glasses, ear protection, first aid kit, and warning signs. Building your own range is fun, but be safe!

Stacking and Filling the Tires

Once you have your materials, it’s time to start construction. Lay out the first layer of tires, spacing them about 6 inches apart. Offset the seams between each tire, so they overlap like brickwork. Then add another layer on top, repeating the pattern.

After you build up 5 or more layers, it’s time to add fill material. Shovel sand, gravel or packed dirt into all the voids between the tires. Really cram it in tightly using a tamping tool. The densely packed fill stops the bullets and balances the weight.

Keep stacking more layers and filling until you reach your desired thickness. Most home ranges do well with a backstop 12-24 inches thick. The extra layers add insurance for increased bullet stopping power.

Installing the Ballistic Facial

With your tire layers filled, now you need to add the ballistic facing. This is what the bullets hit first. Cut your plywood or conveyor belting to fully cover the front of the stacked tires, edge to edge. Use several sheets if needed to span the width.

Attach the facing securely using long wood screws into the posts or framing behind the tires. Make sure to overlay the facing joints so there are no gaps for bullets to penetrate. Angle the facing about 20-30 degrees downward to deflect shots into the ground in front of the backstop.

Maintaining Your Backstop Over Time

Your tire backstop is ready for action! But like anything, it will need occasional maintenance. Every so often, check that the fill material has not settled too much. Refill any sunken spots to keep it level. Also inspect the facing for damage and replace compromised sections. And remove any debris buildup like leaves or brush around the structure. Proper care will keep your backstop working safely for years of backyard shooting.

Operating Your Range Safely

Now it’s time for the fun part – shooting! But safety should always be your top concern. Only shoot in a known safe direction away from people, houses, roads or animals. Make sure no one is downrange before firing. Allies recommend wearing eye and ear protection too.

Limit access to the range when not in use and post warning signs for trespassers. Also check that the backstop appears intact before each session. And as always, follow basic gun safety rules and common sense. Enjoy your new range responsibly!

You Can Create Your Own Quality Backstop Affordably

As you can see, building your own shooting range backstop from tires is totally doable with some grit and imagination. Following the steps here will allow you to make a highly functional and budget friendly backstop. Just be sure to do your homework first and follow safety best practices. We hope this guide gives you the knowledge to create awesome backyard memories together. Happy shooting!



Further Reading

  • New Tire Wall Shooting Range Build: This YouTube video provides a visual guide on how to build a shooting range using tires.
  • How to build an outdoor home shooting Range: This article from Lynx Defense provides a comprehensive guide on building a backyard shooting range, which could be adapted to include a tire backstop.
  • How To Build A Shooting Range: Neckbone Armory provides a detailed guide on building a shooting range. While it doesn’t specifically mention using tires, the principles could be applied to a tire backstop.
Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!