On the Tiles

An­other of Russ Dou­glas’ DIY projects - an ef­fi­cient back­stop

Airgun World - - Contents -

Just a cou­ple of pages along, you’ll find my ar­ti­cle on build­ing re­cy­cled pel­let tin tar­gets. I’ve also just built a home/por­ta­ble, carpet tile back­stop and if you can’t use the tin tar­get idea in your back gar­den, you can def­i­nitely use this one. These proved nec­es­sary dur­ing re­cent pel­let test­ing for the SIG fol­low-up ar­ti­cle, to avoid re­peated ‘cease fire’ at the range to al­low me to re­place tar­get cards.

A PC mon­i­tor box is ideal for this be­cause they’re A3 or larger so can hold mul­ti­ple pa­per tar­gets. They of­ten have ei­ther a plas­tic han­dle or a ‘han­dle’ cut-out from the box it­self – and can slide neatly out of the way when not in use. Ob­vi­ously, any rea­son­ably large box will do the job, though. Carpet tiles are ideal as fill­ing, in ad­di­tion to lay­ers of card­board, as you’ll see.

My first thoughts were to fill the box with pre-trimmed sheets of carpet or carpet tiles, and maybe add some di­vid­ing lay­ers of card­board sheets as pack­ing, shock ab­sorp­tion and pel­let re­tain­ers. I’d popped into a lo­cal carpet store to re­quest a visit to fix my loose stair carpet, so en­quired about some spare carpet tiles and a day or two, and £10, later, here were 12, 50cm2 of­fice-style carpet tiles, with a fairly hard rub­ber back­ing. So far, so great.


The screen box was 60cm x 40cm, so I opted to trim 10cm off one edge of each tile, and add that strip (short­ened by 10cm) onto the side with Gaf­fer tape. The trim­ming was rel­a­tively easy with a carpet knife – score the back of the tile, bend it over carpet-to-carpet, then slit along that knuckle. I then ‘bor­rowed’ some of my wife’s card­board stash (sorry Sam), and filled the back­stop: tile, card­board, five tiles, card­board, five tiles, card­board, one tile. The fill was sym­met­ri­cal so that I could swap sides once one outer side of the card­board box was suf­fer­ing from mul­ti­ple pel­let strikes. My think­ing was that an air pis­tol pel­let/BB would per­haps pen­e­trate one tile and be re­tained within the di­vid­ing card­board, and the cen­tre sec­tions of tiles would stop pel­lets from an air ri­fle.


The first prob­lem was that the box weighed 12kg with all 12 tiles in­side; the plas­tic han­dle held, but my back didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate me lug­ging it about. Also, whilst fir­ing var­i­ous pis­tols into the new back­stop dur­ing the chrono checks for my re­cent BAR chronos ar­ti­cle, I dis­cov­ered that the BBs at 340 fps wouldn’t fully pen­e­trate the first carpet tile, and were re­tained at the sur­face of the box. My wife, Sam, just asked me this week what all the small golden balls are from, that she’s been find­ing on the loft carpet – my bad. So, I took out half the tiles, and put a few sheets of card­board at the out­sides, so that any BBs or slower pel­lets will now be re­tained within the box.

I later hap­pened upon two 50cm x 40cm screen boxes be­ing dis­carded by the friendly IT bods at my of­fice. Guess where I’ve

re­pur­posed the six spare tiles, hav­ing duly trimmed them down fur­ther, as be­fore. Once again, I’ve lay­ered the card­board and tiles, with card­board out­er­most, as well as sep­a­rat­ing the in­ner por­tions of tiles.


I prepped the left­over tile of­f­cuts with card­board di­viders, as a mock-up of a sec­tion through the back­stops them­selves. I fired a few shots from my full-power .177 and .22 ri­fles into the test back­stop at point-blank range. The .22” pel­lets pen­e­trated card­board/ one tile/card­board and stopped at the first of the next two carpet tiles. The .177” pel­lets pen­e­trated just that next tile, but no fur­ther. Just what I needed for to­tal peace of mind.

So I’m very happy that the back­stops will safely re­tain all shots, and that the carpet tile/ card­board sand­wich seems very ef­fec­tive in­deed. Of course, I will open-up the back­stops pe­ri­od­i­cally, to see how well the tiles are last­ing.

One great bonus of the sand­wich con­struc­tion is that both back­stops soak up pel­lets like sponges, no chance of a ric­o­chet here. The other golden rule, as al­ways, is not to fire too close to the edges of the boxes, you’ve got to catch the tiles within.

The ‘in­gre­di­ents’ – plus ‘bor­rowed’ card­board, sorry Sam.

12kg, just por­ta­ble, but not back-friendly.

First at­tempt, stops the pel­lets but way too heavy.

BBs wouldn’t pen­e­trate or be re­tained.

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