Lead concerns in backyard range

Golddiggie

NES Member
Rating - 97.9%
46   1   0
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
14,944
Likes
6,495
Location
Pelham, NH
IMO, if you're not rolling around where the rounds hit, I wouldn't really worry about it. Unless you have enough $$ to buy barrels of ammo and shoot through them monthly, I can't see the concentration being enough to worry about in your lifetime. Hell, probably not even for the grandkids lifetime. At that point, we'll all be beyond caring at all.

IIRC, outdoor ranges only do something every XX years depending on other factors. Those places have a LOT more rounds impacting than any home/personal range will.

I do plan to have a personal range at my next place (first home purchase). I have more concern over building a backstop that will do the job. Plus getting a place with enough land to have a decent length range for rifles.
 

M1911

Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 100%
27   0   0
Joined
Apr 1, 2005
Messages
42,182
Likes
12,471
Location
Near Framingham
NSSF has some good monographs on lead risks associated with ranges. In general, lead isn’t very mobile in ground water, but there are some asterisks. The smaller the projectile, the more exposed surface area, the more lead will get leached into groundwater. Acid rain makes it more likely that lead will dissolve.

So a couple suggestions. First, either don’t shoot trap/skeet at your backyard range or if you do then use non-lead shot. For a pistol or rifle backstop, cover the top of the backstop so that it is protected from rainwater. Instead of shooting into a hill, build a lean to over a big pile of sand, if possible. Add lime to the sand to keep it alkaline, raising the ph and reducing the chance of acidic rainwater dissolving the lead.

Pick up your brass so that rain on the brass doesn’t wash lead and other residue into the groundwater.
 
Last edited:

Poxbox

NES Member
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
Messages
270
Likes
313
Buddy of mine for good or bad has a bunch of large plastic drums filled with sand in front of the berm. I'm guessing he plans on dealing with the barrels some day and replacing them?
 

AMV

NES Member
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Nov 26, 2005
Messages
733
Likes
504
Location
Mass
Again. The two things that can be done to stop lead from leaching out of a berm, spread lime on the berm, Plant grass or top cover on the berm, google it has been studied and used for range maintenance, It reduces leaching by 9-10 times
 

Broc

NES Member
Rating - 100%
14   0   0
Joined
Sep 18, 2010
Messages
47,332
Likes
87,670
Maybe my search-fu is failing me. If it's been discussed, just point me towards a thread.

Anyway, in a bit of reasonable paranoia, I've been considering the amount of lead I'm tossing into the ground in my backyard range.

For those who have backyard ranges, what do you do about it? Shovel it out from time to time? Switch to non-lead rounds? Some kind of backdrop to mitigate runoff or something? Don't care/don't worry?

I've gotten exposed to enough hazmat overseas that things don't look good for my own longevity, but more thinking about wildlife, the folks that live here after I do, etc...
Stop worrying about it.
 

enbloc

Life Member Emeritus
NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 100%
48   0   0
Joined
Sep 10, 2009
Messages
41,906
Likes
79,372
Buddy of mine for good or bad has a bunch of large plastic drums filled with sand in front of the berm. I'm guessing he plans on dealing with the barrels some day and replacing them?
Sifting them may be a good idea too... 🤔
Copper also in there...
1667500526122.png1667500593511.png
 

DJBrad

NES Member
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Sep 16, 2014
Messages
10,299
Likes
23,519
No problems at my range. Vast forest setting with natural hillside berm. It doesn’t see much action anyways. Steel plates with lead splatter everywhere. Natural protection from background radiation 😆
 

enbloc

Life Member Emeritus
NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 100%
48   0   0
Joined
Sep 10, 2009
Messages
41,906
Likes
79,372
You need to be careful that you are limiting your own exposure while sifting. You don’t want to be breathing lead dust, or get it on your clothes and bring it home.
Very true. Precautions must be followed.
 

EMTDAD

NES Member
Rating - 100%
7   0   0
Joined
Mar 29, 2013
Messages
4,005
Likes
5,053
Location
North Attleboro, MA

A person who is exposed to lead over time may feel:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipated
  • Depressed
  • Distracted
  • Forgetful
  • Irritable
  • Nauseous/Sick

meh... 3/7 already.. what's a bit more.. ;)
 

mannydog

NES Member
Rating - 100%
19   0   0
Joined
Mar 7, 2010
Messages
715
Likes
465
Location
Florida
Before I'd moved out of MA, I had met with DEP in the DEP Lakeville office regarding a possible issue with lead on an abutter's property from an old trap range at my club.

They told me that they were not concerned with lead from the range contaminating the groundwater. High water table, also.

They also said that lead above certain levels found on the abutter's land would need to be "remediated" at tremendous cost to the club or the club would need to acquire title to the portion of the abutter's land where lead is found (gun club exemption for lead in soil on gun club properties).
 
Rating - 100%
3   0   0
Joined
Oct 31, 2020
Messages
864
Likes
995
Ranges are designed to handle thousands of people shooting thousands of rounds. Unless you plan to have machine gun parties, I doubt your shooting will have any significant impact.
 

ThePreBanMan

NES Member
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
10,071
Likes
6,760
Location
A Fair Haven in an unfair state.
Lead will oxidize and leach into ground water. After oxidation mobility is high. If you have a well, care should be taken to keep the berm far far away from your well.
We see such oxidation in lead roof flashing commonly. When exposed to the elements, it's only a matter of time. It gets that white powdery flakey surface oxidation.

Yes public ranges see tons of rounds. They're also not built on or near drinking water supplies.
 
Last edited:

namedpipes

NES Member
Rating - 100%
3   0   0
Joined
May 7, 2008
Messages
42,481
Likes
40,905
Location
The foothills of Monadnock
You guys are too paranoid. OP is just thinking ahead, not confessing to anything or creating any likely future liability for himself.
I grew up on, well, I was raised on 😂 a hobby farm in central Mass. In the backyard stood an apple tree, long gone now. On that tree was a hole caused by my father and uncle and theirs before, using the spot as a target. Fairly decent group, to my recollection. You could see and dig out bits of decades old bullets.

Apart from that stutter and maybe a few tics, you'd never know I was raised in a toxic waste dump.

Build a bullet catcher, collect your brass and don't worry about it.
 

namedpipes

NES Member
Rating - 100%
3   0   0
Joined
May 7, 2008
Messages
42,481
Likes
40,905
Location
The foothills of Monadnock
My dad used to shoot in the backyard when I was growing up. We never shoveled or did any cleanup.
I really need to read ahead...

You could always build a small "lead catcher" to keep your Pb localized...
Maybe box in the bottom and add replaceable sand...
View attachment 681216
I really need to read ahead...

Yah, but now you have that bulbous growth sticking out on your back, oozing puss.
I really need to read ahead...


A person who is exposed to lead over time may feel:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipated
  • Depressed
  • Distracted
  • Forgetful
  • Irritable
  • Nauseous/Sick

meh... 3/7 already.. what's a bit more.. ;)
I have the same three. Have we gone shooting together?
 

enbloc

Life Member Emeritus
NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 100%
48   0   0
Joined
Sep 10, 2009
Messages
41,906
Likes
79,372
I like the idea of this but a quick search shows that Lowe's is charging over $20 per railroad tie. Logs cut from fallen trees are free.
Another source of railroad ties is when a community removes railroad track to make it a bike/walk trail. They pile them up off to the side.
No one bats an eye if a few of the better ones "go away"...

The best ties are the ones that were still in stone, not dirt...
 

Broc

NES Member
Rating - 100%
14   0   0
Joined
Sep 18, 2010
Messages
47,332
Likes
87,670
You all freaking out about lead but want to put ties with creosote piled up on your yard?

If a backyard range is this stressful, just pay $100 at your local club and shoot there.
 
Last edited:
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
3,558
Likes
752
Location
Epping,NH
I think the concept is you have a PRIVATE backyard range that you think may be concerning environmentally
You post it online
Now someone buys the place, finds the post, and sues for non disclosure

Today the lead in your range is not a problem. Who knows what it will be in 1-5-10-20 years
This happened a few years back to a local near my NH club. The property was being sold and they had to get rid of the dirt from the range. We wanted no part about taking hazmat material. In the end they had to get professionals in and remove it at a significant cost.

It wasn't something that could be hidden from the realtor and potential buyers.
 
Top Bottom