Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shot Box : Shooting Berm

                  A big part of our life in the country consists of gardening, foraging, and fishing, however hunting plays a much bigger role when Fall and Winter come along.  My love for bowhunting has allowed me to spend countless hours afield, helping to solidify my appreciation for what nature can provide, both in the ways of food, and observation. Although the bow and arrow is my favorite choice to carry into the woods, there is also a place for guns as well. When carrying guns, a person's awareness tends to lean more to the side of safety, or at least "should". I have gone shooting with many people, and can say this. Most people I have observed, I will never shoot with again, nor hunt with afield. Now, I am not trying to give ammunition for anti-gunners, or anti-hunters. I am simply stating that I myself am more safety conscious than the average person. 
One area I am very particular about is a good place to target shoot. Most people will just throw a 2x4 on the ground and line cans up along the top, shooting them off one by one, listening to the screams of ricocheting projectiles.  They never think.....where are those bullets going? A .22 long rifle (one of the smallest and least powerful calibers), can travel up to and even exceeding a mile.  A MILE.  Large caliber rifles, can travel MUCH further, and can still have enough velocity to kill something (or someone) at distances greater than that of the smaller, weaker, calibers. 
My preferred method of target practice involves the use of a shotbox.  Building a shotbox is easy and can be done rather cheaply. The most important component is a large, thick piece of steel.  You will also need wood, such as old railroad ties, heavy cribbing, or decent sized logs. Any of these will work just fine. 
Once you have the necessary items, it is time to find a location for the berm. (the shotbox will be buried into the berm).  I decided upon an area directly in front of a large tree, where I had piled a bunch of old logs. This will help us to fill in the area when we are moving dirt.
Then you need to build some side walls. Ideally, these would also be made of steel, and the top can be welded to them, but I only had one piece of steel. My sidewalls are made from 4x6 cribbing, and once buried, will help to stop even the largest calibers we feel that the steel can deflect. We cut the sidewalls at about a 35-40 degree angle to provide for the projectile deflection.
After the walls are positioned, We lifted the heavy piece of steel over them and rested it across the back. The piece of steel we had was from an old loading dock. Steel like this can often be found at your local scrapyard. The steel itself, being set at such an angle, is not meant to "STOP" the projectiles. It is meant to "DEFLECT" the bullets downward into a pit of sand we will place there. The sand in turn will catch the fragments. Sand works better than dirt, as it doesn't freeze (unless wet) or get hard as easily. After the steel has been positioned, we placed some of the cribbing across the top of the walls, creating the box shape of the trap. Stacking a few of them atop each other, we screwed them together to make it solid. This, although more aesthetically pleasing, is actually a functional retaining wall.  Dirt will be brought in to create the berm, burying the shotbox. The side walls and retaining wall on top, will prevent the dirt from falling in, yet add a larger area to prevent stray projectiles from traveling elsewhere.  

Site for Shot Box

Daughter holding up a side wall

Placing the steel plate into position

Box is formed

Payment for the help of a good friend

Top is finished. All that is left is to bury the box and form a berm

Shooting a 9mm into the trap.  Our trap should easily withstand even the largest caliber pistols, and many of the smaller centerfire calibers, such as the .223


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