DIY Berm

PaganSnake

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Aug 23, 2018
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Recently purchased my dream property, and I’ve got room for about a 500yd range. I’ve been researching berms quite a bit lately, I’d like some input from those whom have build their own berms.

Initially I was thinking railroad ties and dirt, using the railroad ties as a retaining wall with the dirt behind them ~ 6’ tall x 18’ in length. I still like that idea, I think it would be the most visually appealing. But I’ve heard that the rail road ties will only last ~14 months and I don’t want to keep rebuilding every yearish.

So now I’m thinking maybe I just drop the dirt and sod it up to keep shape, same height and width.

Thoughts?
 

bourbonbent

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The ties will work, just sink some vertical supports and nail some horse stall mats across the front and back before putting the dirt down. That stuff is just about invincible it seems. Cheap too, Tractor Supply has it in big sheets that are easy to move around.

That, or rent/hire an earth mover to push up a berm and dig down a little, then sod it like you mentioned.

I’m building one this year as well, still property shopping and brainstorming so it’s been on my mind a bit.

Definitely following, I’d like to see other people’s berms.
 
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PaganSnake

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That’s a great idea, never thought about matting the ties. Thanks for the feedback
 

goatboy

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6’ high will be good for a well placed rifle shot, but if there is any concern about what is behind, you need to consider materially higher. A flat shot will skip over 6 feet, any novice could pull a shot over that, and it’s way too short for any pistol work.

Be realistic about the size. There is a reason that berms are 18’ +/-.
 
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sid

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I build a berm by piling logs and junk I gathered from my property and then piled dirt on top, it's only 6 ft high and way to wide, it works but I want to make it higher and a little shorter.

Good thing that I did was make it a U shaped, controls the spalling.
 
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McNamara0851

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Don’t overthink it. Pile dirt up. Shoot at it. If you want grass on it, throw grass seed on it. If you don’t, spray it with burn down. I found a picture of mine. I needed a bigger driveway, so I scraped the top few inches off of the yard next to the barn, piled it up and let the weeds grow to hold the dirt in place.
 

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PaganSnake

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Don’t overthink it. Pile dirt up. Shoot at it. If you want grass on it, throw grass seed on it. If you don’t, spray it with burn down. I found a picture of mine. I needed a bigger driveway, so I scraped the top few inches off of the yard next to the barn, piled it up and let the weeds grow to hold the dirt in place.
How tall is your berm? It looks good!
 

McNamara0851

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Idk, 6.5’. I hauled in 200 ton of rock to cover the pad I scraped out. I’d say the dirt pile is at least 5 short dump loads, or 100 tons.
 

PaganSnake

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Drew up a sketch of what I’m thinking for my berm. Wanting to get 10 - 7H x5w x 5l HESCOs. Stack them four deep in the back and three on each side. Will pile up dirt ~7’ out in front of the back wall that will go side to side and planning on trying to pile it as far up as possible. This will give me ~ 20’ of horizontal target space that will have ~10’ boxed in for spalling that will be 7’ high all around. Thoughts??
 

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IowaPlinker

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Feb 12, 2017
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Back when I was on the board for the local Ike’s, we made a berm by sinking scrap utility poles in a staggered pattern, then one of our members that worked at the local tire shop got them to donate about 500 used tires which we dropped over the poles. Then we had gravel poured in the centers as we dropped tires over for better barrier to protect the wood. It has been more than 15 years and they are still up and doing their job.
 

clcustom1911

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Drew up a sketch of what I’m thinking for my berm. Wanting to get 10 - 7H x5w x 5l HESCOs. Stack them four deep in the back and three on each side. Will pile up dirt ~7’ out in front of the back wall that will go side to side and planning on trying to pile it as far up as possible. This will give me ~ 20’ of horizontal target space that will have ~10’ boxed in for spalling that will be 7’ high all around. Thoughts??
HESCO will work very well. Looking many moons down the road, will your impacts nick and eventually split the metal portions you are shooting at causing the dirt contents to spill toward you??.

You could do HESCO with dirt piled up on the impact side as well with a few railroad ties along the front as a short retainer.... And ifyou want height..... Place poles in the HESCO's to stack tires which you would fill with gravel/dirt.

Overkill?? That's subjective 😂
 
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BLKWLFK9

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I did tires and 5 loads of dirt. about 8ft high and 20ft long
 

PaganSnake

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Did you use the tires as a retention wall? How many did it take/where did you get them?
 

Kommando Spezialkräfte

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I have a friend that has a tree company so endless amount of wood chips. I have said to him we will make a pile 10 feet deep and fire some heavy rounds into it and see how it fares.
 

PaganSnake

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Aug 23, 2018
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Did some more shaping today, I’d like to bring the right side in a bit and raise the over all height. Not sure I can manage with my tractor and FEL. So that may have to wait. Also still need to seed it. Waiting for a little rain first. 7119012
 

shoobe01

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Think about any fill like logs and brush in the long term. They will rot, compress, and collapse. In a few years, but it'll happen. Filling with solid materials can work.

Avoid erosion of the berm, and make it last longer by planting something on it. But... tall grass and trees make it a pain to shoot into as they can mask the targets, and 45° hills are hard to mow. So, find a plant-smart person and find something lower, fast growing, and local so it survives the conditions. It'll get shot up on the impact face, but every bit helps.
 
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bogeybrown

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Drew up a sketch of what I’m thinking for my berm. Wanting to get 10 - 7H x5w x 5l HESCOs. Stack them four deep in the back and three on each side. Will pile up dirt ~7’ out in front of the back wall that will go side to side and planning on trying to pile it as far up as possible. This will give me ~ 20’ of horizontal target space that will have ~10’ boxed in for spalling that will be 7’ high all around. Thoughts??
What did you find for pricing on Hesco?
 

PaganSnake

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Couldn’t find anything definitive on the HESCOs. I sent an inquiry to the company but they never got back to me. Best I could tell just via research, it would be around 800 per box. Which would have put them out of reasonable price range for my project anyway.
 

km77

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My father runs the railroad tie/dirt setup. Works really well.
 

JoedirtPNW

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I had a friend dig out a lane below grade and shoots from a tree fort, pretty cool setup! He piled all the extra dirt up for some margin of error since there is a highway not too far behind the berm.
 

JoedirtPNW

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You could also look into concrete jersey barriers or old worn out steel road plates too!
 

Booner1334

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How would those big round bales of hay work?
Two side by side I would think would make a pretty good barrier.
 

Evolution 9

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In my area AR 500 plate is about $800 dealer cost for a 4’x8’ sheet of half inch. I used some to armor a portion of my house but hadn’t considered it for a target backstop.
 

smoooth1

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How would those big round bales of hay work?
Two side by side I would think would make a pretty good barrier.
They work great for a couple of years until they start to breakdown . Depending on your area, you could make a pretty good wall of bales for little money.
 
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PaganSnake

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I’ve always heard round bails won’t stop bullets. I heard a story from my dad when I was a kid about a neighbor getting a deer rifle for Christmas and shooting at a round bail. The story goes that several bullets penetrated and ended up killing a neighbors cow. I’ve never shot at them because of that story. Were you talking about using them in liu of rail road ties to keep the dirt formed? Thats actually a really good idea.
 

smoooth1

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Big round bales DO stop Bullets and do it best if the round curvature is facing you. If they are sideways, like a big circle ⭕, they don’t stop Bullets or arrows very well.

50 BMG FMJ will eventually work their way through, but 3/16 steel on the back will stop them dead.

Double stack bales for extra safety measures.

Don’t flop them over or they will rot out much, much faster. They are rolled up tight to shed water.
 

Booner1334

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Big round bales DO stop Bullets and do it best if the round curvature is facing you. If they are sideways, like a big circle ⭕, they don’t stop Bullets or arrows very well.

50 BMG FMJ will eventually work their way through, but 3/16 steel on the back will stop them dead.

Double stack bales for extra safety measures.

Don’t flop them over or they will rot out much, much faster. They are rolled up tight to shed water.
I just threw the idea of the round bales out there as I see a bunch of them on the farms around here and it's pretty obvious they've been out there for years, so maybe the farmer would be willing to sell some at a cheap price. Would work as a backstop, I guess that would depend on what you're shooting. But would four bales in a 2x2 arrangement, with a tarp on top to help shed water, not stop most common calibers? Keep in mind we're talking about a backstop here, something that keeps your bullets on your property. You would still want something in front of the backstop that you not only post your targets on, but also Takes the initial hit of the bullets, like a stack of railroad ties, a stack of lumber, etc.

(tonge in cheek) How about a 20 foot shipping container filled with sand?
 

smoooth1

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If yo
I just threw the idea of the round bales out there as I see a bunch of them on the farms around here and it's pretty obvious they've been out there for years, so maybe the farmer would be willing to sell some at a cheap price. Would work as a backstop, I guess that would depend on what you're shooting. But would four bales in a 2x2 arrangement, with a tarp on top to help shed water, not stop most common calibers? Keep in mind we're talking about a backstop here, something that keeps your bullets on your property. You would still want something in front of the backstop that you not only post your targets on, but also Takes the initial hit of the bullets, like a stack of railroad ties, a stack of lumber, etc.

(tonge in cheek) How about a 20 foot shipping container filled with sand?
If you have the time and money to fill a sea container, that would be awesome!!