This past Christmas, Kim gave Fred an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. (Yep, it’s just like this one, except it has no compass in the stock, and it doesn’t have a “thing which tells time”…) I pulled this picture from Christmas morning off Facebook; check out that big ol’ grin.
Fred and I were shooting it in the workshop at a makeshift target the other night when a BB came flying back at us on a ricochet. Neither of us shot an eye out that night, but we still decided it was a good idea to build a safer backstop for our BB shooting escapades. Plus, it gave me an excuse for another beginner’s woodworking project to share with you.
This backstop design uses tongue-and-groove construction to join the sides and back. These types of joints are extremely strong. This is an easy first project to practice tongue-and-groove construction.
Tools & Materials
I used scrap material from our wall-mounted lumber storage project for most of the materials. The general idea was to build a frame with a plywood back and find some sort of material that would hold onto a BB, preventing it from rebounding back out. After wandering around Home Depot, I realized that a drop ceiling tile would be the perfect backing, and it would be easy to replace.
- 3/4″ plywood – for walls – scraps will probably work if you have them, or a 2×2 sheet.
- 1/4″ plywood – for backing – 2×2 sheet
- 1×2″ pine – or 3/4″ plywood could be substituted
- (1) 2×2 drop ceiling tile
- Router (or table saw with dado blade)
- Rubber mallet
- Wood glue
- Pin nailer
How to Build A BB Gun Backstop
I wanted to attempt (for the first time) tongue and groove wood joints. T&G joints are very strong, and becoming proficient in making this style of joint will be a useful skill for future woodworking projects. You can purchase a set of router bits specifically designed for this task or use a straight flute bit (like I did). If you’re not interested in something as involved, you can build a similar BB gun backstop using alternate wood joints like lap joints or even butt joints.
Step 1: Cut Plywood to Size
Like I mentioned, most of the materials for this project were leftovers from building my lumber storage rack. That means I already had pieces cut to acceptable dimensions. If you’re not so lucky, cut four pieces of 3/4″ plywood into 4″ x 22″ strips. Cut the 1/4″ backing to 17-1/4″ x 21-5/8″.
Step 2: Route the Tongues
Cut a 1/4″ tongue (deep and wide) on both ends of each side of the 3/4″ plywood vertical rails. Using a 1/4″ straight router bit, I fine-tuned the position of the router with a piece of scrap. After it was setup, routing the tongues went very quickly, a quick slide by the flute on each side.
Step 3: Route the Grooves
I decided to cut the side grooves 2-1/2″ away from each end on the top and bottom boards. That made things a little simpler because I didn’t need to worry about lining up the outside edges. Plus, I could easily cut the ceiling tile to size. The position of the groove is flexible. Just be sure to keep everything consistent and modify the dimensions of your plywood backing as necessary.
I used an 1/8″ straight flute router bit and made multiple passes. After each pass I would dry fit the joint, working to keep everything snug.
I cut a similar groove about 1/2″ away from the backside to accommodate the 1/4″ plywood backing. Again, I used the 1/8″ straight flute bit and made multiple passes. It’s important to note that I only cut this back groove on the bottom and side boards. You’ll see why I omitted the top board in the next step.
Step 4: Cut a Slot in the Top
I figure a ceiling tile will only last so long against a barrage of BB’s, and so I cut a slot at the top to make it easy to swap in a new tile. For the dimensions, I use the ceiling tile to determine the thickness and my jigsaw to cut it out.
This picture shows the hole I drilled to start the cut.
Step 5: Glue it Together
I used the rubber mallet to help put all the pieces together. Unfortunately, I made a few grooves too tight and needed to make additional cuts before it all fit. I glued all the joints and let it dry overnight.
Step 6: Add a Bottom Guide
The top slot was necessary because I wanted to add at least one guide to prevent the ceiling tile from falling out. To achieve this, I pin-nailed a piece of 1×2 to the bottom of the frame.
Step 7: Cut the Ceiling Tile
I used a utility knife to cut the ceiling tile to fit and slide it in place. It is held at the top by the opening in the plywood, and at the bottom by the guide installed in Step 6.
Of course I wanted to try out my new creation, so I printed off a target and set everything up across the shop (about 17′ away). You can see how deadly I am with a BB gun.
The backstop caught all the BB’s. None of them came out, and I wasn’t afraid of shooting my eye out!
Where to Get Targets
After building the BB backstop, I was hoping to find free online targets. After a few Google searches, we came across Targetz, which offers PDF shooting targets that are 100% free. Unlike many other “free” sites out there, this one was easy to navigate and actually download and print a target.