How to Fill Sandbags
By Mike Nelson
The following suggestions apply to filling sandbags used for target shooting. Though I am no expert on all the options for filling shooting bags, clearly the most popular choice is sand, and that is likely because it works better than other stuff.
Worse, unwashed sand might also contain organic material that could grow inside your sandbag. Whether you get sand from a field, a building supply, or even a beach, make sure that it does not contain rocks larger than your funnel tube, preferably no larger than half the diameter of your tube, and that the fine particles have been washed out.
It is probably wise not to use your best, non-stick cookware, otherwise any old metal pan will do; however, shallow pans will speed the process. Bread pans take about an hour at 400º F. When cool, pour the sand into the funnel and watch it flow. You might want to bake sand when your wife is out for a while, but that's an issue you will have to work out on your own. You could also dry it on the grill, on your camp stove, or simply build a fire in your yard. Just be sure that the sand is dry and cool before you start to fill your bags.
Most hardware, farm supply, and building supply stores have an extensive selection of plastic tubing, and you only need a couple of inches, which they might just give you. If it costs more than a quarter, you need to find a friendlier store. To fit larger funnels, just stack short sections of tubing until you get down to the size needed for your bag.
Packing the Bag
When a chamber gets almost full, the sand will pile up at the end of the filler tube and stop flow. Use your thumb to press a cavity in the sand pile just below the filler tube and continue to fill with sand. You can get your bags considerably tighter than commercially filled bags. As your bag stretches and the sand settles, you might need to add sand, so don't throw away all your washed sand until you have used your bags for a few months and are satisfied with their density. Washed sand easily pours out to soften and is easily added to stiffen your bag.
Good luck and good shooting.
Copyright 2002 by J.M. Nelson. All rights reserved.