First things first.
I called the City of Phoenix Police Department and asked if it was OK to shoot air pistols within the city limits.
“As long as you do so safely, yes it is,” they said.
So I scouted out the backyard and found a good ISSF dimensioned air pistol range (basically a 35′ long area) with a safe backstop (the 7′ concrete block wall across the back of our property) and measured things out with dimensions from the web and a calculator:
|Target face to firing line||10 meters||32′ 9.7″|
|Ground to target center||1.4 meters||4′ 7.1″|
* See sections 6.3.8 and 6.3.9 at http://www.issf-shooting.org/rules/english/2006/23_technical_2005_2nd.html
with some additional pistol rules available at
I placed a small outdoor table with its rear edge along the firing line after making a permanent mark down low on the house’s foundation so I can easily find the firing line again if the table is moved.
For the target holder, I use the Gehman Pistol Target Trap (see http://www.pilkguns.com/buildrange.shtml where you will find additional notes on range options). A while back, I also ordered 1000 Edelmann 10m Air Pistol targets (see http://www.pilkguns.com/masprlist.htm#edelmann) which is keeping me in good supply.
Double-check to be sure you get the pistol target holder and the pistol targets. Air rifle targets and their holder are a completely different size.
When the target trap arrived, I measured the box center to hanging screw hole and screwed a snugly fitting wood screw into the gap between two concrete blocks at the appropriate height. Hanging the target trap, I found the target center to be about a half inch low — perfectly tolerable for a backyard range (in my opinion).
Also, since the target trap is about 2″ deep, my firing line was now 2″ too close. Okay, so I scooted the table back 2″. Gee, that was easy to fix.
Then, to lessen the noise for my neighbors, I went to Home Depot and bought one package of “electrical putty” for less than a buck. This is basically a very sticky black clay which I smushed flat and stuck to the backplate inside the target box. It very effectively captures all the pellets and, more importantly, it significantly reduces the impact noise.
My range is along the north side of my home shooting eastward to the target hanging on the wall at the back of the property. My back is to the evening sun. The range is mostly shaded in the early evening by the roof overhang, two large queen palms (that occasionally drop dates into my AP box) and Moon Mountain that rises up a half mile to the west. Although it is hot in Phoenix in the summer, staying out of the direct sun often makes it tolerable. Such is the case for my backyard range.
I start shortly after dinner, no later than 7:00PM. I shoot six (6) 10 round targets for a normal men’s AP competition and finish about 8:00PM which is just when the failing light would force me to stop anyway. (Adding two lights, one on the target and the other on the firing line, will be a later project.)
At the moment, I have the trigger on my IZH-46M cranked up to several pounds as I work toward a reasonable degree of trigger control. Yes, I’m intentionally choosing to shoot a difficult trigger. I have it set such that I can release shots cleanly, but only by doing everything right. Any flaws in grip, wrist, elbow or trigger finger pressure/movement direction or the dreaded “spasmo” jerk results in an obviously thrown shot. But when everything is right, the shot goes where it should.
“There, that’s just like me. I can do this,” I tell myself when everything works.
My normal shooting companions include a gecko that lives inside the block wall and eats crickets and black widow spiders, a Cactus Wren whose nest and chicks are in a hole near the top of the Saguaro cactus three feet to the left of the target trap but 25′ up, a noisy black bird that sits high up in a tree and makes heckling-like squawks all through my practice which I’ve learned to accept as a test of my concentration, and the occasional neighborhood “mouser” (cat) that patrols my yard hunting for field mice. All these creatures are safe for various reasons although that bird does try my patience but seems to be smart enough to avoid standing in front of a safe backstop.
If you’re in the neighborhood, give me a call. Bring your AP and target trap and I’ll put another screw in the wall creating a firing point to the left of the Saguaro and then we’ll shoot a 600 side-by-side.
You’re welcome to come early for dinner, too.
See you in the backyard!