Airgun Shooting Indoors at Home
When You Have an Airgun, Home IS the Range!
by Tom Gaylord Copyright ©2011 Pyramyd Air, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
It’s not only possible to shoot at home with airguns, you’ll wish you’d started years ago. If you have a large, private back yard and can shoot there, that’s great. But that’s not what I’m talking about. If you have an attic, basement, garage or shed, any of these places might be converted into an airgun range. That also increases the margin of safety, as these areas are usually away from family members.
Any interior room with sufficient distance can be quickly turned into a range. I’ve set up ranges in bedrooms, living rooms, hallways and even in my office in a modern commercial building.
The secret to shooting in small spaces with thin walls is a quiet airgun. There are several to choose from. If you like pistols, Triumph Daisy’s Avanti 747 is perfect. I shot one in a modern office building in Baltimore while an adult education class was underway in the next room, and nobody knew I was there. The 747 is a .177-caliber single-stroke pneumatic that takes one easy pump-stroke to charge it. It’s so accurate that it can hit the eraser on the end of a pencil every time at 33 feet. It has fully adjustable sights and Lothar Walther barrel.
For rifle shooters, nothing is quieter than the IZH 61 5-shot repeater. This .177-caliber sidelever is a spring-piston rifle with the same accuracy as the Daisy 747. The easy-cocking sidelever is great for young shooters. It has fully adjustable sights that can be converted from open to a target aperture with parts that come with the gun. The stock is adjustable for very small children all the way up to adults.
Daisy’s Avanti 499 Champion is the world’s most accurate BB gun. If you do your part, it can put 10 steel BBs through the hole of a Lifesaver candy at 5 meters (16.4 feet). It’s easy enough for a six-year-old to cock and light enough to shoot all day, though the adult-sized stock may have to be cut shorter for some youngsters. And, it’s VERY quiet!
A not-so-quiet action pistol that’s fun indoors is a Walther CP99. This 8-shot pellet repeater fires with every pull of the trigger and realistically copies Walther’s 9mm P99 sidearm. Used with either the Quiet Pellet Trap or Crosman’s 850 Pellet and BB trap, the only noise will be the discharge of the gun. For more fun, shoot at the Gamo Rocker Pellet Trap, but be sure to use a very good backer board to catch stray shots because this trap is smaller. (You don’t want to shoot at the Rocker with the 499 Champion or any other gun that shoots steel BBs because of the possibility of damaging ricochets.)
Pellet and BB Traps
To catch all pellets or BBs when you shoot indoors, get Pyramyd Air’s Quiet Pellet Trap. It’s perfect for both types of ammo, though the impact putty compound does need to be cleaned from time to time. For steel BBs, I recommend using Crosman’s model 850 pellet and BB trap. It has a ballistic curtain that slows the projectile and captures it in the trap.
The impact sound is often louder than the gun’s report; but, with either one of these traps, there’s almost no sound at all. The quiet trap makes zero noise, yet it is suitable for powerful pellet guns up to 1,000 fps in .177 and 800 fps in .22.
To protect the wall behind any trap, place a piece of plywood or chipboard sheet at least three times the size of the trap. It will stop any stray pellets or BBs from hitting the wall or door behind the trap. That’s very uncommon, of course, but when others shoot your guns or when you shoot a gun you aren’t familiar with, it’s good to have that extra protection.
What About More Powerful Airguns?
You can shoot more powerful airguns in your house, but you’ll need a stronger trap to contain them. Pyramyd Air stocks the Champion Pellet Trap. It’s heavy-duty and strong enough to stop a 40-grain bullet from a .22 long rifle cartridge. It’s strong enough for any smallbore (.177, .20, .22 and .25) airgun made.
However, when the velocity of a lead pellet exceeds about 600 fps, the pellet starts breaking up on impact, and that generates both fragments and lead dust. You may not want lead dust in your home, so stick with guns that shoot slower than 600 fps, or use a quiet pellet trap for guns shooting from 600 up to about 1,000 fps. The Quiet Trap generates no lead dust if the pellets are cleaned on a regular basis.
Safety Is Always an Issue. Inside the Home There Are Additional Factors to Consider.
1. People who are not shooting should be kept away from the downrange area. If the pellet trap is located near a door or hallway, do whatever is necessary to prevent anyone from wandering downrange. This applies especially to young children. If you shoot down the length of a hall, always stop if a person has to use the hall and wait until they have come out before resuming.
2. Keep pets away from the pellet trap. Cats and small dogs are especially attracted to the noise of a pellet striking the trap.
3. Pellets shot at velocities above 600 fps shatter into fragments when they hit a hard surface. Set the trap inside a large cardboard box tray to help contain the fragments. Clean up after every session, as small children and pets might ingest the lead particles.
4. Steel BBs rebound from most traps. The Crosman 850 trap I mentioned has ballistic curtains to contain stray BBs, and the silent trap is filled with impact putty that holds them tight. After you’re done shooting, a sweep of the floor with a strong magnet will collect any stray BBs before they get sucked up by the vacuum cleaner or eaten by a child or pet.
5. Everyone in the shooting area should wear safety glasses.
6. You must use an approved pellet or BB trap. Cardboard boxes filled with newspapers do not contain shots for very long. In fact, they won’t contain even one shot from a powerful airgun, such as an AirForce Airguns Condor . A Condor will shoot through a 2×4 or the wall of a house and still have enough force to severely dent appliances such as washing machines or refrigerators.
Construction of the Range
Distance – The ideal distance for an indoor range is 33 feet or more, because so many airgun sports shoot at 10 meters. If you don’t have that much room, use smaller targets and use whatever distance you do have. I have 16 feet in my garage, which is the international competition distance for BB guns.
Pellet Trap – The trap should be approximately the same height as the muzzle of the gun. If several people are using the range and are standing and/or shooting off a bench, locate the trap about four feet off the floor. Shoot straight into the trap, not on an angle, to prevent ricochets (lead pellets can also richochet, even after they’ve shattered on a hard target).
Lighting – It’s important to have good light on the target. The shooting area should not be as well lit, so the targets appear very bright in comparison. I use a clip-on light with an aluminum reflector that I got for a few bucks at the hardware store. A single 75-watt floodlight bulb is bright enough if placed within eight feet of the target.
Shooting table – You’re going to want a surface to lay your guns, pellets and other items, so plan for a shooting table at the firing line. The table should mark the line that no one passes when shooting is taking place.
Shooting at home is fun. If you follow the safety precautions outlined in this article, shooting at home can be great fun. You’ll be surprised how much it increases your opportunity to shoot.