Building/cutting out a 200yd Holler-Top Shooting Range! I need expertise from engineers, woodsmen and short to mid range shooters.

76Too

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Alright, so now that I’ve finally decided I’m never going to finish unpacking my shit here in Kentucky because i’m always outside…I need to start cutting out my holler-top range of 200yds or more.

I have a good spot on top of the smaller side of the mountain behind my house that will allow me to shoot rounds into the larger side of the mountain…it looks like the longest distance I’ll be able to achieve with minimal effort will be 200yds. I’m looking at the potential for 300yds in the future, but there will be quite a bit more work involved in not only building it, but also using it because of where the impact zone would have to be.

I posted some photos over in the Kentucky thread earlier this year and that layout still holds true.

Basically, the first big issue I’m going to run into is ‘drawing’ a straight cut from the firing line to the impact area. I’m wondering if one of the ‘huntX’ or similar apps can help when I’m on the move up there…like if I can plot both start and end points and the GPS app will help me mark any/all trees and brush in the middle of those two points by looking at my phone.

Here are the two basic points that I’ve double checked are right around 200yds apart:
B4BAEDC1-4178-4313-B268-83CC73340FD6.jpeg
This first image shows where I’d like the firing line to be which is basically at the ‘peak’ of the westerly side of the mountain.
2524325D-BC77-4D8C-A16B-9BCF39E9BF75.png
This picture shows where I’d like the impact area to be (approximately, but there’s at least 50-100 feet left or right it could be moved without much consequence.
So in between, there’s actually a ‘dip’ in between the two points, and there’s a shoulder ridge that’s about 50’ wide that is pretty flat and kinda does a semi circle around the right side of the potential range. The shoulder will be great for getting my truck or a side by side/atv to the firing line once I clear the trails up to there.

The landscape is very ‘New England’ esque in the sense that it’s ALL hills in every direction, so no real danger of rounds deflecting and impacting somewhere they’re not supposed to.
 

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Alright, so now that I’ve finally decided I’m never going to finish unpacking my shit here in Kentucky because i’m always outside…I need to start cutting out my holler-top range of 200yds or more.

I have a good spot on top of the smaller side of the mountain behind my house that will allow me to shoot rounds into the larger side of the mountain…it looks like the longest distance I’ll be able to achieve with minimal effort will be 200yds. I’m looking at the potential for 300yds in the future, but there will be quite a bit more work involved in not only building it, but also using it because of where the impact zone would have to be.

I posted some photos over in the Kentucky thread earlier this year and that layout still holds true.

Basically, the first big issue I’m going to run into is ‘drawing’ a straight cut from the firing line to the impact area. I’m wondering if one of the ‘huntX’ or similar apps can help when I’m on the move up there…like if I can plot both start and end points and the GPS app will help me mark any/all trees and brush in the middle of those two points by looking at my phone.

Here are the two basic points that I’ve double checked are right around 200yds apart:
View attachment 682241
This first image shows where I’d like the firing line to be which is basically at the ‘peak’ of the westerly side of the mountain.
View attachment 682242
This picture shows where I’d like the impact area to be (approximately, but there’s at least 50-100 feet left or right it could be moved without much consequence.
So in between, there’s actually a ‘dip’ in between the two points, and there’s a shoulder ridge that’s about 50’ wide that is pretty flat and kinda does a semi circle around the right side of the potential range. The shoulder will be great for getting my truck or a side by side/atv to the firing line once I clear the trails up to there.

The landscape is very ‘New England’ esque in the sense that it’s ALL hills in every direction, so no real danger of rounds deflecting and impacting somewhere they’re not supposed to.

You're about an hour from me. Which is funny, because not much else is.

I hope to do something similar but gotta finish renovating the house first
 

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What's that field in back of your impact zone?

How large are the trees that need to be cut?
Once the trees are cut, what's your plan for keeping that lane open? It'll grow back very quickly unless you keep it mowed or something.

Go at least twice, maybe 3 times as wide as you think you'll need, because the branches from the trees that are left will grow towards that sunlight you just let in.

Think about hiring a forestry mulcher to come in and grinding everything down to the ground.
 

namedpipes

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You're about an hour from me. Which is funny, because not much else is.

I hope to do something similar but gotta finish renovating the house first
That's what I said 30 years ago. Just build your range. The house will never be done (I'm assuming you're married. She'll add projects...)
 

76Too

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You're about an hour from me. Which is funny, because not much else is.

I hope to do something similar but gotta finish renovating the house first
Not much around here, is there?!?!?

I love it! I basically leave my house for groceries and supplies and that’s it. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I really think this place has RUINED city life for me. I can’t ever go back now, nor would I want to.

What's that field in back of your impact zone?
It’s a pasture that’s barely used, but if you look at the area on google earth in 3D, you can see that the pasture is up a pretty steep incline and there isn’t any danger of stray rounds killing my neighbors cattle unless one makes it over onto my property…in which case, it is what it is. His cows have come over the hill twice since I’ve been here and woke up with 5 of them on my front lawn once.
How large are the trees that need to be cut?
Once the trees are cut, what's your plan for keeping that lane open? It'll grow back very quickly unless you keep it mowed or something.
I’m not really sure yet because I need to figure out exactly which trees need to be cut first and I don’t know how to draw a straight line through the woods. (I guess I could use a compass?)

I have a brush hog on my tractor and I bought the commercial Stihl pole saw last week (extends to 14’) and also have a Honda 4 stroke brush cutter/weed wacker for any places I can’t get with my tractor.
Go at least twice, maybe 3 times as wide as you think you'll need, because the branches from the trees that are left will grow towards that sunlight you just let in.

Think about hiring a forestry mulcher to come in and grinding everything down to the ground.
I have everything I need for land clearing and it’s become my new hobby because the place I bought had been neglected for the past 5-10 years since the folks that owned it previously became elderly. They built it in 1994 and lived here until they died.

I work at a desk all day inside my house…me and my dog head out into the woods after work to unwind. I’m not in any rush other than wanting it to be ready if anyone comes down to shoot. I actually enjoy the physical labor and it’s good for my mental health too.
Where does your firing position sit in relation to where you want it to impact, elevation wise?

Are you shooting down, flat or up?
Precisely the reason I chose these two points is that it appears to be totally flat straight across the shoulder with a tiny ‘bump up’ at my firing line and the incline to the adjacent mountain just begins to start right where my impact area will be.
That's what I said 30 years ago. Just build your range. The house will never be done (I'm assuming you're married. She'll add projects...)
This was my thought too. No wife or g/f, but I’m sure someone will come in and try to mess up my life at some point 😂

I’ve done some maintenance items on the house to make it truly liveable/comfortable, but I’m still living/sleeping in one of the guest rooms because I haven’t bothered to take the time to paint the master bedroom yet.

I hastily tore out the carpets in the bathrooms before @JayMcB came by for an inspection, and I’m glad I did…they were pretty gross.

I’m ‘at home’ in the woods and out in my pasture. Starting to think I might be cut out for country life after all. Lived in Worcester most of my life, but grew up in south Spencer by Howe Park and had infinite woods to explore back then. God forbid I ever have kids, they could have a similar situation out here and I’m happy about that. Would just need to keep my daughters away from their brothers…because, Kentucky.
 
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76Too

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Nothing to add, just jealous. Best of luck
No jealousy allowed, sir. Pack up the trunk and head down!

Plenty of room in the house, or about a hundred spots to set up a tent or park a camper.

Think of it like a sanctuary for NESr’s…kinda like what fishfinder has, but for people that like women.

I’m going to have to figure out how to fasten my toilet tank lids before I start having more guests from NES though. I can hide my keys easy enough.
 

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This is how I'd do it in order of priority, which could be completely idiotic but it's what comes to mind:
  • I'd want the layout to give me a level firing point with relatively easy access from the house or at least access via a vehicle. I'd dump a load of crusher run to have a pad for shooting prone and to set a shooting bench.
  • I'd try to shoot in a direction where stray shots would have the least chance of causing problems downrange.
  • Also I'd want reasonable access to build up a berm or have a natural berm. Doesn't have to be very big, just big enough to contain your possible misses. Earth, railroad ties, whatever. Access to the berm could be from some other route than straight from the firing point.
  • A mild incline or decline is fine. Also don't overlook shooting over a dip in the terrain, over a swampy spot, etc. as long as you can clear the lane and get to the berm some way.
  • Your many acres are heavily wooded much like my couple acres. You might find a direction with only a few trees to clear. I don't think undergrowth is going to be that big of a deal under such a canopy of trees and a relatively narrow shooting lane would work for me. I'd use a cheap but bright laser I have or get a couple of these for $4 each at Harbor Freight in order to set my line.
  • image_21937.jpg
  • Unless you want to do some serious logging, your berm and targets between your firing point and berm will always be shaded and a bit dark. If you put out steel plates, paint them white or dayglo orange. In such a spot I'd set up a railroad tie berm at 200 and cover it with whitewash for better contrast when I shoot all the fun stuff you can't shoot at a public range.
 

76Too

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This is how I'd do it in order of priority, which could be completely idiotic but it's what comes to mind:
  • I'd want the layout to give me a level firing point with relatively easy access from the house or at least access via a vehicle. I'd dump a load of crusher run to have a pad for shooting prone and to set a shooting bench.
  • I'd try to shoot in a direction where stray shots would have the least chance of causing problems downrange.
  • Also I'd want reasonable access to build up a berm or have a natural berm. Doesn't have to be very big, just big enough to contain your possible misses. Earth, railroad ties, whatever. Access to the berm could be from some other route than straight from the firing point.
  • A mild incline or decline is fine. Also don't overlook shooting over a dip in the terrain, over a swampy spot, etc. as long as you can clear the lane and get to the berm some way.
  • Your many acres are heavily wooded much like my couple acres. You might find a direction with only a few trees to clear. I don't think undergrowth is going to be that big of a deal under such a canopy of trees and a relatively narrow shooting lane would work for me. I'd use a cheap but bright laser I have or get a couple of these for $4 each at Harbor Freight in order to set my line.
  • image_21937.jpg
  • Unless you want to do some serious logging, your berm and targets between your firing point and berm will always be shaded and a bit dark. If you put out steel plates, paint them white or dayglo orange. In such a spot I'd set up a railroad tie berm at 200 and cover it with whitewash for better contrast when I shoot all the fun stuff you can't shoot at a public range.
THAT’s the cheap/easy solution I was looking for! f***ING string! Damn I’m a dumbass and didn’t even think of that.

The backstop is going to be the side of the mountain for now, but I’ll eventually put in a ‘catch’ back there too for well aimed shots so I can fish the lead out and reuse it.
 

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Having a swale or valley between the shooting stand and the targets is not without precedent.

I saw that. pretty cool.

if I remember correctly theres towns in germany that have artillery fire go overhead as they're in between the firing line and impact area. Probably not open anymore but I believe they were a thing up until recently.

I'd love to see ranges like this popup but the reality of it is the US has a pretty poor tolerance towards shooting ranges and next to zero practical interest in making amazing outdoor ranges. While here in FL we have 2 new outdoor ranges that I'm aware of (which is remarkable), however, they are insanely expensive to use, on the level of $100-250 per month for membership. So, not really accessible to the people who need to use them, etc. I say that because the people who can afford that range are probably going to be on a flight out if they ever had a chance to become a militia man. Rich people don't fight wars.

Food for thought, I went to one of these ranges 2 months ago and met with the owner and manager, who were both super cool guys. They gave me a tour of the property which is immense and impressive. However, one thing was obvious, it was a ghost town. If I remember correctly there was 4 people using the entire facility to shoot, which could probably accomodate 100 people without any problem. And the reason for that is simple, it's just not affordable membership wise. Struck me as very odd. If I had to guess it will go out of business - again, for the 4th time in as many years if they don't take drastic action to lower prices and increase membership. Because 4 people aint paying that bill no matter what you charge them. Its insane that they are still using the nearly identical business model pricing wise as the failed owners before them on the same property.
 
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drgrant

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I saw that. pretty cool.

if I remember correctly theres towns in germany that have artillery fire go overhead as they're in between the firing line and impact area. Probably not open anymore but I believe they were a thing up until recently.

I'd love to see ranges like this popup but the reality of it is the US has a pretty poor tolerance towards shooting ranges and next to zero practical interest in making amazing outdoor ranges. While here in FL we have 2 new outdoor ranges that I'm aware of (which is remarkable), however, they are insanely expensive to use, on the level of $100-250 per month for membership. So, not really accessible to the people who need to use them, etc. I say that because the people who can afford that range are probably going to be on a flight out if they ever had a chance to become a militia man. Rich people don't fight wars.
That's not really that expensive. Dude we live in a country where poors drop 100-200 a month on cable tv or cell phones. 🤣 for a range its pricey for sure but it's not "only for rich people" cut me a break. They are priced that way because everyones a f***ing skinflint and someone has to pay the bills. Ultimately skinflints are actually going to be the biggest source of harm to gun culture in this country.... lack of available facilities for Shooting Sports and training will become a serious issue eventually. "Because nobody wanted to pay for it" either to preserve land or facilities. Especially in suburban areas and anything within an hour of urban bullshit.
 

Dench

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That's not really that expensive. Dude we live in a country where poors drop 100-200 a month on cable tv or cell phones. 🤣 for a range its pricey for sure but it's not "only for rich people" cut me a break. They are priced that way because everyones a f***ing skinflint and someone has to pay the bills. Ultimately skinflints are actually going to be the biggest source of harm to gun culture in this country.... lack of available facilities for Shooting Sports and training will become a serious issue eventually. "Because nobody wanted to pay for it" either to preserve land or facilities. Especially in suburban areas and anything within an hour of urban bullshit.
I cant afford it and I make ok money now again.

Like I noted, the fact that it was defacto empty proves my point.

Meanwhile the free state owned range 30 miles away has a literal line to get onto every day and that range sucks by comparison
 

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I cant afford it and I make ok money now again.

Like I noted, the fact that it was defacto empty proves my point.

Meanwhile the free state owned range 30 miles away has a literal line to get onto every day and that range sucks by comparison
Free ranges blow. Even if there wasn't a line and it was clean, you are surrounded by idiots, f*ck that. I don't need to get shot because some wanna be gangster wanted to have a cool IG picture.

Monthly memberships blow, specially when they still force you to have to reserve time, like many ranges in FL do. That is f*cking BS. I am used to going to the range whenever I want, not be forced to run out of the house at a certain time.

I stopped being a member of Old Colony when during COVID they required people book time becuase they wanted a RO to be present. F*ck that noise.

The Northeast has by far the best system. Fill application, show up to meeting, pay a initiation and yearly fee. The process also takes just long enough to rule out most lazy pieces of sh*t and we are not required to book time.

-----------------

Anyway, back on topic ... OP, cutting a one lane range shouldn't be too hard, it all depends on how fancy you want to go. The hard part of building a range is the back stop, but looks like you are good to go there. Every time I read about people building a range, it is always the damn back stop that requires the most thought and wok.

If you wont use the wood for any projects, I would stack it on the back berm, make it higher.

If you have a small tractor you could use it to push some dirt against the back stop or to the sides.

Can you post a topo map of the area?
 
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MGnoob

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what broc said. Use the shitty wood for backstop and to shield and area along the pasture. Hard to tell without a topographical map..

You can also use a chipper to make a big pile of wood chips at the backstock. That’s what I do at my second shooting location.

My range is under 100 yards from my first shooting line but I’m a little over 125 yards if I go further back..
I got lucky on mine I’m shooting it in the side of a 230 foot elevation mountain after the last target there basically a 30’ shear rock face…

It doesn’t sound like you’re gonna have issues like me people f***ing with your stuff and stealing stuff.


I just did it real quick paint job on my range. I missing three silhouettes and for some reason three of the plates that attach to my dual Texas star thankfully they are from the spare set but I just don’t understand why you steal something like that. Other than they were right by the edge of the trail. People just steal anything.

I’m not sure how close are houses but I’m eventually gonna get a shut up so I can store my spray paint fire extinguishers and other stuff maybe shoot out of it in the rain. Maybe people will stop f***ing stealing my shit sprayed off my fire extinguisher is because I don’t like carrying shit out there every time
 
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Not much around here, is there?!?!?

I love it! I basically leave my house for groceries and supplies and that’s it. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I really think this place has RUINED city life for me. I can’t ever go back now, nor would I want to.


It’s a pasture that’s barely used, but if you look at the area on google earth in 3D, you can see that the pasture is up a pretty steep incline and there isn’t any danger of stray rounds killing my neighbors cattle unless one makes it over onto my property…in which case, it is what it is. His cows have come over the hill twice since I’ve been here and woke up with 5 of them on my front lawn once.

I’m not really sure yet because I need to figure out exactly which trees need to be cut first and I don’t know how to draw a straight line through the woods. (I guess I could use a compass?)

I have a brush hog on my tractor and I bought the commercial Stihl pole saw last week (extends to 14’) and also have a Honda 4 stroke brush cutter/weed wacker for any places I can’t get with my tractor.

I have everything I need for land clearing and it’s become my new hobby because the place I bought had been neglected for the past 5-10 years since the folks that owned it previously became elderly. They built it in 1994 and lived here until they died.

I work at a desk all day inside my house…me and my dog head out into the woods after work to unwind. I’m not in any rush other than wanting it to be ready if anyone comes down to shoot. I actually enjoy the physical labor and it’s good for my mental health too.

Precisely the reason I chose these two points is that it appears to be totally flat straight across the shoulder with a tiny ‘bump up’ at my firing line and the incline to the adjacent mountain just begins to start right where my impact area will be.

This was my thought too. No wife or g/f, but I’m sure someone will come in and try to mess up my life at some point 😂

I’ve done some maintenance items on the house to make it truly liveable/comfortable, but I’m still living/sleeping in one of the guest rooms because I haven’t bothered to take the time to paint the master bedroom yet.

I hastily tore out the carpets in the bathrooms before @JayMcB came by for an inspection, and I’m glad I did…they were pretty gross.

I’m ‘at home’ in the woods and out in my pasture. Starting to think I might be cut out for country life after all. Lived in Worcester most of my life, but grew up in south Spencer by Howe Park and had infinite woods to explore back then. God forbid I ever have kids, they could have a similar situation out here and I’m happy about that. Would just need to keep my daughters away from their brothers…because, Kentucky.

May help, may not help
Sat image is probably about a year old.
Land pitches down, but at perimeter of property line (past whats cleared, plenty of room) it rolls back up, so I have some natural embankments surrounding where I shoot.

So from point A to point B is about 61 yds, or from back deck to a pile of trees (overgrown with briars and poison ivy) where a 6" plate sits so I can remind the groundhog and whatever critters are in there who's actually in charge. I think a Dragon lives in there. Maybe a displaced bridge troll.

Point A to point C is another 6" plate just for blasting at. Another natural embankment.
I think even if I missed either one of those, shot over the ridge, it'd still be 10 foot higher than what the surround houses are for roof peak height.
When the pile of trees is gone, which is this winters project, I'll plant an upside down plate rack down there and ring-a-ding-ding.

So notice trees between points A, B and C. I thinned out what was blocking my lanes, that way I had trees to take a hit if I went too far side to side.
You might not necessarily have to doze out a firing lane, just thin out enough where you have a 2-3ft corridor and it dumps into wherever your killzone is. Cut selectively.

1667671752482.png

1667671891368.png
 

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200 yards is shorter than you think. Basic compass and orienteering will keep you straight: Get a good direction (38 degrees, not "basically Northeast"), pick out a tree, walk to it, flag it, pick out another tree on that compass heading, repeat.
 

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Two very visible posts
Drop first post, sight the second post so that the first post aligns with your impact area.
Use a hand held rifle scope to align the two posts as you clear into the woods.

Very accurate by just the naked eye if your sighting posts are spaced around a 1/10 of the desired distance.
 

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Everyone is right about the low tech solutions. 200yd isn't that far. Didn't they teach you to use a map and compass in the corps?

If you want to use your phone and an app, you can drop way points in the software, then use it to confirm when you're in the right place. I would probably just do what they're saying, though, and check my work with a rangefinder.
 

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Everyone is right about the low tech solutions. 200yd isn't that far. Didn't they teach you to use a map and compass in the corps?

If you want to use your phone and an app, you can drop way points in the software, then use it to confirm when you're in the right place. I would probably just do what they're saying, though, and check my work with a rangefinder.
Too complicated.

1. Aim rifle.
2. Shoot.
3. Cut the first tree the bullet hits.
4. Aim again.
5. Cut the next tree the bullet hits.
Repeat several times.

Eventually, you will have a nice straight line and will have shot more rounds than most NES members in a year.
 
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Mesatchornug

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Too complicated.

1. Aim rifle.
2. Shoot.
3. Cut the first tree the bullet hits.
4. Aim again.
5. Cut the next tree the bullet hits.
Repeat several times.

Eventually, you will have a nice straight line and will have shot more rounds than most NES members fore in a year.
A couple more shots per tree and they cut themselves
 

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With the help of @Matt_SERE I took some screen shots of a topographic map to show a little better what I’m looking at.

5CD10C24-DD6D-4FFF-B570-D9E2CE79AD3A.jpeg
This is the basic lay of the land.
56934EC4-363E-4E33-B6E6-B186BBCD015F.jpeg
This is the basic border of my property. The hilltop to the west (left in the screen shot) will be the firing line, and we’ll be shooting over the saddle and into the side of the larger hill.

The neighbors pasture isn’t even a factor here because the elevation changes drastically right behind the (would be) impact area. I have plenty of space to move said impact area 20-30’ in either direction to make it work so I can choose the the past of least resistance through the woods.
 

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To lay out trails, we bought a couple colors of plastic marking tape. Sighted as far through the trees as we could, marked that tree, moved to it and continued. We tried to avoid any big trees, and because NH, rocks.

If you have a drone that can be helpful once the leaves drop.

Once we had the vector laid out, used a hand-held Stihl trimmer with blade to cut down the underbrush. Then a chain saw. Last passes were with the rotary cutter.

This is the start of a trail, the tape is off in the woods but this section was eventually about 50+ yards to another trail. We sprinkled conservation grass mix on the dirt areas.

2020061320064299-7228044844573606165-IMG_2569_heic-L.jpg
 
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Mesatchornug

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With the help of @Matt_SERE I took some screen shots of a topographic map to show a little better what I’m looking at.

View attachment 684352
This is the basic lay of the land.
View attachment 684356
This is the basic border of my property. The hilltop to the west (left in the screen shot) will be the firing line, and we’ll be shooting over the saddle and into the side of the larger hill.

The neighbors pasture isn’t even a factor here because the elevation changes drastically right behind the (would be) impact area. I have plenty of space to move said impact area 20-30’ in either direction to make it work so I can choose the the past of least resistance through the woods.
...helping
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Does it matter that you're shooting up - i.e., in case of ricochet? What about reversing direction and shooting down, into the side of the smaller hill? Am I overthinking this?

edit - removed identifying info. Also, it looks like ~200yds along the path is almost level. maybe never mind my other idea, and stay the course...
 
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