*Frugal Range Equipment*
By Longshot

Range equipment can be very expensive to purchase or even fabricate for those without access to appropriate scrap materials (or at least contacts who do). Several years ago I set out to equip a 500 yard firing range for as little as possible. This was to include a bench, target stand(s) and any other goodies I could think of.

The Bench

The bench was originally constructed with scraps of 2X4 and 2X6 and legs made from a base that had been the platform for a heating oil tank. I figured the legs had soaked in oil for years so they should be impervious to everything. It worked well for several years but it seems the carpenter ants around her enjoy toxic substances so I had to replace the legs last year. A huge ice storm back in '98 literally snapped off all the hydro poles for miles and miles so I was able to nab a few busted poles for nothing. These, along with cross arms from telephone poles formed the new set of legs. The bench shown below works quite well for me, it is both steady and heavy. Cost - a couple handfuls of nails.

Target Stands

I have used many improvised target stands with varying levels of success but one of the best I have come across is using discarded wooden palettes. Simply break one skid down and use the pieces to join two more perpendicular to each other (see below - these ones are in the last stages of usefulness and have been patched together many times - when pronounced dead they will become fuel for a campfire). Around here you can get as many palettes as you want for free - companies often advertise 'free firewood' and give them away by the stack. At first I took care to round the front edges of the base palette so it could 'easily' be pulled from line to line - wheels would have been a better option but why bother. I quickly noted that by building one for each firing line I didn't have to drag anything and since the price was so reasonable I put one at 50, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards. Cost - FREE even the nails are salvaged from the palettes you break down.

Shooting Rest

There are many different shooting rest designs out there. Because I don't always shoot from the bench I wanted something portable. A Harris Bi-Pod would work nicely but it was/is not in the budget. One day I saw a small tripod in a varmint magazine being used in the field. It was small, light, collapsible AND was very similar to a sturdy metal table top tripod I had on an old spotting scope. Using a piece of hardwood for a platform, a small sandbag (the pocket of some discarded CF combat pants) held on with velcro straps (from a UPS) and some camo duct tape this tripod was functional in short order. There is a bolt that runs through a vertical shaft and hardwood platform that is tightened with a wing nut to allow for a small degree of vertical adjustement. The unit is small (~9-10") and it fits easily into my butt pack. The cost was free to me but I have seen similar scopes with tripods at yard sale for next to nothing.


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