On the Tiles
Another of Russ Douglas’ DIY projects - an efficient backstop
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.
TRIM TO FIT
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.
PENETRATION TESTING & CONCLUSIONS
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.