How to build a ‘backyard bunker’ backstop for less than £20
PUBLISHED: 16:50 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:51 13 January 2021
Dave Barham decides to play safe and build a decent backstop in his garden for less than £20
After a lengthy conversation with an Airgun World reader at the recent British Shooting Show, I thought it would be a good idea to build myself a ‘backyard bunker’ backstop. I’d previously discussed the idea with our Ed, Terry Doe, who had informed me that he’d built several over the years.
My only problem was that I needed the creation to be moveable, in case my landlady didn’t want a permanent fixture in her garden!
As I was to discover, the possibilities and options for building a secure, safe backstop are endless, and I managed to produce exactly what I was after for less than 20 quid!
You will need...
• 5 x paving slabs (40x40cm) @£3.48 = £17.40
• 1 x large bag of building sand = £1.90
• 3 metres of strong wire (already had in shed)
Because I live in rented accommodation, I have to be a bit more careful when plinking in my back garden. The last thing I want is to be peppering the trees and sheds with stray pellets, so until now I’ve been using a couple of rotten tree stumps as backstops to absorb the pellets.
Using wood in general as a backstop is not ideal, though, you’re actually far safer using a solid material like concrete. You see, wood is fibrous and has a certain amount of give, and so it can allow pellets to ricochet. A solid ‘wall’ stops a pellet in its tracks, absorbing most of the energy, only allowing the pellet to bounce a few inches away, if at all.
Last Sunday I popped along to our local B&Q store to see what they had in their garden centre that I could use to build my backstop on a budget. I was quite amazed to find some decent paving slabs on sale for just £3.48 each, so I picked up five of those straight away. I knew I had some decent garden wire in my shed – the type of stuff used for guiding trailing plants, so that was sorted too.
From various discussions I’ve had on the matter I knew that I wanted to add even more security to prevent pellets going astray, so I also grabbed a bag of building sand on my way back to the tills, for a measly £1.90.
That was it, I had everything I needed – now it was a case of deciding where to put it, and how to build it!
1. This is all you need to build your bunker, and the total build time for me was under five minutes!
2. Start by laying the base slab, making sure it’s perfectly level. You might need to dig a little bit of ground out to do this.
3. Place your bag of sand on the slab towards the back, ensuring there is an inch of so gap at the back of it to house the backstop slab.
4. Pick a side, any side, and lay a slab vertically like this. I just rested it up against the sand so it didn’t fall over at this point.
5. When you put the first side wall slab into place, make sure you leave an inch or so gap at the back so the backstop slab also sits on the top of the base.
6. Repeat the process on the opposite side, again resting the slab inwards onto the bag of sand to prevent it falling outwards.
7. When you put the backstop slab in place you should be able to strengthen the two sides. The back slab will help to hold them in place.
8. Now you can add the roof slab. This will ensure the whole thing stays in place. If you want to, you can add some wooden beams for added security.
9. To help make the whole thing even sturdier and more secure, wrap a length of wire around the structure and tighten down by twisting the wire with pliers.
10. Repeat the process with a second wire, ensuring that it is spaced accordingly to accommodate the size of targets you want to use.
11. You can see how the wires are spaced to hold the target. If you make the lower wire slightly loose, you can move it up and down.
12. And there we have it. The possibilities are endless. You can also make your own bottle top or teaspoon spinners and attach them to the wires.
As you will see from this rather easy build, there are loads of options available. I wanted a ‘portable’ backstop, but if you want to build a permanent one there’s plenty you can do to make it even more secure.
For a start, you could begin by digging the backstop in – maybe omitting the base slab and making it two slabs wide instead. If you’re building a permanent bunker, you can use mortar to secure the slabs in place, and add wooden beams and posts for added support – then cover the entire thing in soil.
My version is really simple, though. I did toy with the idea of using a couple of wooden beams between the sidewalls before I wired it up, but I found the bag of sand I placed in the middle was solid enough to hold the walls in just the right place after a little bit of jiggling about, so I didn’t need to – even easier!
Once it’s all built you can use tape to secure your targets to the wires like I have, or you can buy some small crocodile or bulldog clips and attach them to the wires to make things easier. Happy shooting!