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Thread: Shooting Range Berms and Pond Construction Questions

  1. #1
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    Shooting Range Berms and Pond Construction Questions

    I would appreciate some help on figuring out the most efficient way to construct some dirt berms for a personal shooting range on my property. I've already thoroughly researched all the legalities of this and am just looking for practical advice on the construction.

    I am looking to move 1,500-2,000 yards of dirt approximately 75 yards and build dirt berms 8-12 feet tall with a 45 degree slope. Primary concern is the construction of the berms, the pond is secondary only as a source of dirt. I'd rather the pond be deeper and take up less surface area. Soil is a sandy loam on top and the soil survey says it gets to be a silty clay down lower. Land is very flat with a 1-3 degree slope towards the creek.

    Picture of the site can be seen here: http://s18.postimage.org/8m0ioer89/bermconstruct.jpg
    Brown are the berms, blue is the new pond, green dots are new trees planted for noise supression.

    I would like to get this done in one week by my dad and myself working on it full time as inexpensively as possible. We have a small tractor with loader and a Cat skid steer but obviously those won't move this amount of dirt in a reasonable time frame. They'd be used primarily for shaping and compacting the dirt if necessary.

    Some of the different equipment combinations I'm looking at are:
    1. Scraper and a loader/backhoe to shape the berms and pond
    2. Excavator and Dump Truck
    3. Large Loader

    I would appreciate any input, opinions, or advice on which equipment would be best to rent for this project.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Senior Member stumpjumper83's Avatar
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    Well, if you only need a pond for the dirt, why dig the pond at all. Just rent a medium sized dozer and push the berms up with that. Something like a deere 700 or 750 w/ a 6 way blade should do the job easily during the weeks rental, only require one machine and operator and leave time to spare.

  3. #3
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    That's a good idea. My main concerns with that are that the property line (black line in the above diagram) is behind where I want to build the berms so I would have to push the dirt up from the area I want to shoot from. I want the berms there to maximize space and distance I can shoot. I'd have to grade it so the whole area wouldn't end up as a shallow pond. Also I don't think my dad has much experience running a dozer and I know I don't. We do have some surveying equipment to help with the grading and the creek is right there for drainage.

    How difficult would it be to push up dirt berms 10' tall with at least a 45 degree slope with no experience running a dozer?

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    You need to make sure there is no possibility of rounds going over the berm and especially leaving your property.

    The biggest problem on our range is the backstop eroding and exposing rock that cause ricochets. We shoot into the side of a mountain side.

  5. #5
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    I've got a copy of the NRA Range Source Book which provides all the specifications for building a range safely, hence my requirement for at least a 45 degree slope. Behind the berms for a few thousand yards is nothing but farmland but I will be designing and operating the range so no rounds leave the property. The only people shooting will be myself or under my direct supervision. I've been shooting at a membership only range with a similar layout for the last 6 years, fired over 120,000 rounds in that time with none over the berm. Topography around here is very flat, no natural berms, but there are no rocks in the soil.

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    120K. thats a lot of lead. Do you need to worry about lead getting into any drinking water sources?

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    Do you anticipate getting into surface water in your borrow area?
    I treat everybody the same...... I give em all grief.

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    Well here is a video of a cat 6 doing what you need to do. Mind you he is just piling it for load out from what i can see. If your not familiar with dozers, it might be best to hire a proficient operator to run the machine rather than spend 2x the time learning and still have to have an experienced operator finish the job. You might think your wasting money hiring an operator to do what you can learn, but a dozer in the size of a d6r or 750j will burn 6-8 gallons of diesel an hour, and with fuel being 3.60 or so a gallon thats $25 an hour going up the stack. Your better off to pay the experienced operator the rate he asks for than burn 2x the fuel and still have to finish grade the project.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZzDapT94qE

    He is a short related story... A construction company is lookin for dozer hands. An older man walks up and asks whats rate for runnin dozer, foreman tells him we are paying $10 an hour, and there is the dozer, lets see what you can do. Man gets on dozer and goes out bout 100 yards, washboards all over, digging holes, and makin a mess, turns the cat around and comes back over the mess, making it look a purdy as ever, and talks over to the forman and said, how did I do? Foreman said what was the first pass all about, man replies, do you want a $10 per hr job or a $20?

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    There is a wet weather creek right next to the area I'd be taking dirt from. The bottom of it is 6-8 feet below the borrow area so I don't think I'd have to worry about surface water. Drilled a few dozen holes 2' deep near there to plant trees with no sign of water.

    As for lead in the drinking water there's a section in the NRA Range Source book about that I've read and will follow to mitigate. I actually got lead poisoning a several years back from shooting weekly at an indoor range with poor ventilation. I'm pretty cautious about it and monitor that closely these days.

  10. #10
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    Personally I would do it with a dozer most cost efficent way to do it. You can bulk it out, grade your slopes nicely and a 750 size machine will be heavy enough to compact it, your not building on top of the berm, just track it in real good. Plus instead of building a pond, if you push up the area in front of the berm you really wont need as much dirt as if you were digging it from a pond. You will be cutting down the area in front of where you are building it up. Just keep your 1-3% grade to the creek. How much do you think you can cut down in front of your propsed berm and still keep your creek contained. Since you have the skid steer can always do your fine grading with that since it will be around once the bulk dirt is moved. Plus a 750 hydrostat machine is pretty easy to learn how to run, you wont be a great operator after a week but you will be able to move some dirt with it.

  11. #11
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    I would hook up pan behind a Cat to cut and shape the pond, transport and build the berms. Small finish dozer to trim up everything as it goes.

    On the other hand there is a lot to be said for use what you have.

  12. #12
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    Your better off to pay the experienced operator the rate he asks for than burn 2x the fuel and still have to finish grade the project.
    I can definitely see how hiring a professional at that rate of fuel consumption might be beneficial. The wildcard here is my dad is semi-retired and not the kind of guy that sits around. I told him about this project and he got really excited about doing it and volunteered to drive down here for a week. He postponed a surgery so he could do this with me so now I've got to figure out how to actually get this done.

    Leaning towards the dozer thanks to y'all but keep the suggestions coming. Will talk to my dad tomorrow and see if he's run one before or thinks he can.

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    call and get rental prices on the different equipment and delivery fees, this may influence your decision about renting it, or hiring a contractor to do it for you. You could still do the finish work yourself with the skidsteer.

    Heck there maybe someone on the forum in your area who could help.

  14. #14
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    Shooting Range Berms and Pond Construction Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by jtie View Post
    The wildcard here is my dad is semi-retired and not the kind of guy that sits around. I told him about this project and he got really excited about doing it and volunteered to drive down here for a week.
    Yeah, that does put a little different perspective on the subject.

    I usually don't give too many opinions, or advice on which equipment would be best to rent, but in this case...
    Quote Originally Posted by jtie
    Leaning towards the dozer
    If you can...

    Every ones advice here is good, but stumpjumper83 and 390eric's advice seem the way to go... as far as a dozer only show.


    OCR

  15. #15
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    Yup,,,, rent a dozer, put your dad on it and do it yourself. There's more reward in watching your pop become a kid again,,, even if it cost you a couple extra bucks what the h*ll,, it'll make a memory!!!
    I treat everybody the same...... I give em all grief.

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