Building an Indoor Shooting Range

When it comes to building an indoor shooting range, it is always a good idea to first learn the process involved with installing your own home indoor shooting range and/or custom outdoor gun range design. So on that note, Spire Ranges has taken the liberty to share some amazing information below to help you better appreciate all of the intricacies associated with building an indoor shooting range.

What is an Indoor Shooting Range?

A custom outdoor or indoor shooting range, firing range, or gun range for your commercial or private property use is a technical facility designed for firearms qualifications and/or training. Some shooting ranges are operated by armed forces or law enforcement agencies, though the majority of those building an indoor shooting range are privately owned and cater to recreational shooters. Supervisory personnel are responsible for ensuring that all weapon safety policies along with government regulations are followed closely at all times.

Specializations and Restrictions

Keep in mind that building an indoor shooting range may confine you to only certain kinds of firearms; for example: handguns or rifles. Indoor shooting ranges can also specialize in certain shooting sports like skeet shooting or Air Pistol/Rifle. Most indoor ranges confine the use of certain strong calibers, rifles, or completely automatic weapons.

Design and Construction

In urban places, many shooting ranges will undoubtedly be indoors. Building an indoor shooting range offers protection from inclement weather conditions and can be operated around the clock under controlled environmental conditions. Outdoor shooting ranges are typically found far away from populated regions due to concerns of overall safety, noise pollution and dirt contamination.

Key Components of an Indoor Shooting Range

Building an indoor shooting range is usually constructed as a standalone structure, even though it may be housed in larger buildings in the basement or such. The basic components of building an indoor shooting range consists of firing lanes, targets, and a bullet trap/backstop. Design considerations can fluctuate depending on the planned use, but they all must address the requirements for general operation as well as to provide ballistic protection, safety controls, proper ventilation, acoustic isolation along with appropriate lighting.

Construction Materials

When building an indoor shooting range wall, you will usually construct the wall from poured concrete, precast concrete, or masonry cube. The walls have to be impenetrable and provide adequate ballistic protection from stray bullets and back splatter. Floors are constructed from compact reinforced concrete with a smooth surface finish. Floors are usually slanted slightly from up-range supporting the bullet trap downrange to allow for improved maintenance and cleaning.

Roofs and Safety Measures

In regard to building an indoor shooting range, the roofs are usually constructed from steel joists or pre-cast concrete panels with a sleek flat surface that will redirect misfired bullets, facilitate maintenance, and prevent guide build-up. Roof baffles are installed at a 25 to 30 degree angle to protect ceilings, lighting fixtures, ventilation ducts, and every other un-protected element from stray bullets. Deflectors are much like baffles but usually are not covered with plywood as they can be installed either vertically or horizontally and therefore are used to redirect stray bullets from harmful fittings and elements inside the firing assortment including doors, windows, and ventilation fittings.

Control Stations and Backstops

Control rooms or stations house the fundamental controls when it comes to the equipment (communication, lights, and security) involved with building an indoor shooting range. The controls are operated by the designated official responsible for operation and management. The control station needs to provide an unobstructed line of sight of the firing lanes and all shooters. Control stations are usually constructed of concrete cubes with bulletproof observation windows.

As far as building an indoor shooting range backstop; these “bullet traps” are used to absorb the energy from your bullet and capture it to prevent overflight beyond the allotted space. Backstops come in an assortment of designs and therefore are usually constructed of impenetrable metal plates. The thickness of the plates and the materials used are based on the velocity and energy levels of the projectiles that are fired. Many contemporary backstops consist of detachable tempered steel plates that deflect the bullets into other metal plates to disperse their energy. The plates have to be resistant to penetration, abrasion, and metal fatigue. The backstops direct the bullets to a collection region in front of the snare, or for high-energy projectiles, at the trunk of the trap.

Additional Spaces and Shooting Booths

When building an indoor shooting range, most provide additional spaces including a restroom, cleaning room for weapons, a classroom and/or office space, a lounge, storage area and a maintenance room (if space is available and the homeowner wants to run a business out of their basement). Passageways are traditionally used to physically isolate the firing from the adjoining places. Some indoor/outdoor firing gun ranges are equipped with shooting booths to provide shooters with a defined firing space and to reduce the potential hazard from misfires and ejected bullet cartridges from adjoining shooters.

Shooting Booths and Firing Line

Shooting booths are made of partitions or panels which can be acoustically treated to lower the effect of weapons discharge on other shooters. The stalls are sometimes armed with communication or target-operation equipment; target or booth lighting controls; shelves for holding weapons and bullets or to prevent shooters from going down range, and equipment for practicing shooting from behind a barrier. The firing line is usually marked orange or red and runs along the down-range edge of the shooting booths. Some gun ranges have motion sensors that can alert you when a shooter passes the line during the shooting.

Target Systems

As far as building an indoor shooting range target system; these consist of a target plus a target control system. Targets for indoor home shooting ranges are usually a paper sheet or piece of corrugated cardboard with a printed target image on the sheet. The target provider system allows the shooter to operate much more efficiently and securely by transporting the target within the firing lane. The target control system allows the shooter to automatically control the operation and movement of the targets by way of a central control station in the control booth or through a remote switch that can be operated in the shooting booths.

Ventilation and Lighting

A critical component in the design and building an indoor shooting range is the ventilation system. Appropriate ventilation decreases a shooters vulnerability to airborne lead particles as well as other combustion-able byproducts. Ventilation systems consist of supply and exhaust air systems and associated ductwork.

Ventilation Requirements

Air can be provided via a perforated wall or vertical air diffusers mounted at ceiling height. Airflow along the firing line ought to be no more than 0.38 m/s (75 feet every minute, fpm) with the absolute minimum satisfactory stream of 0.25 m/s (50 fpm). Air is typically exhausted at or behind the bullet trap. Some firing ranges are designed to have many exhaust points downrange to maintain down-range flow and desirable velocities at the firing line. The exhaust system needs to be designed to provide minimum duct air velocities of 13 to15 m/s (2,500 to 3,000 fpm).

Lighting Considerations

The equipment and designs for the ventilation systems are varied, however many have several supply or exhaust fans. Very often, the air-flow rate required by the firing range and space constraints for the fans dictate the amount and

kinds of exhausts. Most shooting ranges have systems that provide 100% outside air into the firing range and exhaust all of the air back outside of the building. However, some ventilation systems have been designed to recirculate some of the exhaust air to the supply air system to conserve energy; especially in extreme climates. For safety sake, the exhaust air is always filtered before being emptied outside the building or recirculated into the source system.

Lighting for Safety and Visibility

Building an indoor shooting range with the best lighting consists of: control stall, orange/red space, shooting booth, along with downrange lighting systems. Control booth lighting is usually manually controlled and consists of overall lighting and low-level lighting used during particular shooting conditions. Lighting of the stalls is typical ceiling-level lighting and can usually be controlled manually or from the central controls. Lights downrange of your shooting line are usually spotlights used to illuminate the targets at a variety of distances down-range of the booth.

Safety Measures and Regulations

In regard to building an indoor shooting range whereas the safety control systems are involved; it is best to protect the shooters at all times for potential malfunction or emergency situations. These systems could include warning lights, alarm bells, and air-flow and filtration monitors.

Protection and Regulations

If you are not planning on building an indoor shooting range; then an outdoor home designed shooting range is used for longer-distance shooting up to 1,200 yards. Training might also require exposure to the elements like wind or rain. Outdoor competition shooting is preferred under benign weather conditions; but conditions could vary. Competition is only abandoned when safety becomes an issue.

Outdoor Range Safety

Outdoor shooting range plans are designed to contain all fired shots. This necessitates a higher retaining wall behind the target line called a back-stop or stop-butt. A backstop comprises an earth mound, sandbag barrier or specially designed funnel-shaped cubes to catch and prevent misaligned shots, errant projectile ricochets, or shots going beyond the boundaries of the shooting selection. Most outdoor ranges confine the maximum grade size and projectile energy based on the design specification of their range. Some target-shooting ranges have separate facilities specialized in the use of higher-powered firearms like the .50 caliber.

Maintenance and Noise Concerns

As opposed to building an indoor shooting range; outdoor ranges require less cleaning and maintenance. However, in spite of the natural ventilation of outdoor firing ranges; some outdoor collections have ballistic baffles over-head, and concrete walls and structures on both sides that can cause the air to stagnate and contribute to increasing exposure to lead and noise. Consequently, operators of home owned outdoor shooting ranges might consider adding sound transmission baffles, absorptive materials, and natural vegetation to lessen noise emission.

Range Types and Distances

If you are building an indoor shooting range that is considered a small-bore (.22 long rifle grade) gun range; then you will want to make sure that the measurements are 50 meters to accommodate the Olympic 50 m Rifle event; but they can stretch to 200 meters. These collections are found across the globe as part of varied cadet shooting programs, sometimes reduced to 25 meters. Often called miniature gun ranges, they offer great training for marksmanship using lower-cost ammunition imparting significantly less recoil or if assembled into a higher specification, can be used for sighting in full-bore rifles using specially designed ladder targets.

Range Length Requirements

Building an indoor shooting range target for larger-caliber centerfire rifles should be no shorter than 100 meters, except in the case of Zero ranges used for setting or checking the receptive or aperture areas of the rifle. Military ranges are typically at least 500 to 1,000 meters to safely accommodate the scope of most rifles. Outdoor ranges can be as long as 1,800 meters and typically accommodate hunters and sportsman participating in sports such as the 300 m Standard Rifle, metallic silhouette or benchrest shooting.

Specialized Shooting Events

Building an indoor shooting range for assorted clay pigeon shooting events require special layouts and equipment. There is no shooting range design too difficult for us to customize for your personal needs. Give Spire Ranges a call today!

Firing Point and Firing Line

The firing point normally is at a defined point on a level and flat placement. Outdoor ranges without a covered firing point are usually on a slightly raised, flattened mound. When you have decided against building an indoor shooting range; keep in mind that outdoor ranges with a covered firing point are usually concrete or made similar to that of a tarmac. Outdoor military range firing points usually are not covered and may have other configurations such as: sloping, a sand base or a pit in the ground. The firing point cover can be as simple as a tent frame with only a roof (to keep off rain or sunshine), to a substantial building with appropriate apertures to shoot.

Firing Point and Safety

If you are building an indoor shooting range for your home targets; then it is best to ensure that they are built of a plastic core flute, sometimes with a canvas or hessian rear on the bigger long-range types. Most acceptable targets are a solid black ring on the white background. The ring might have scoring points highlighted. Targets of other shapes may be used in pistol (handgun) target shooting. Reactive targets allow shooters to readily establish bullet attacks. This allows shooters to better their skills by being ready to switch up their aiming point to where the bullet changed the target.

Range Layout and Target Types

Those who decide to use military surplus rifles in competition on firing ranges at set distances include bolt and semiautomatic actions, with targets used as per military standards, current, and historic. Exactly the same is applicable for the matches they take. Other target types include a metal plate that is knocked over by the bullet like in the air rifle game of field target or handgun discipline of IPSC and stationary metal plates of scaled animal outlines on which the bullet strikes the mark and the ones that indicate the paint that is painted over again after scoring.

Backstop and Wind Flags

Building an indoor shooting range backstop involves a few important steps. The backstop is your area behind the target where the bullets have passed the target. Outdoor and sometimes indoor ranges have ground or sand butts. Indoor ranges can use detachable plates with fans, often with a rubber curtain where the bullet passes and is then stopped by a metal plate. Ranges without automatic target placements sometimes have concrete trenches whereby personnel lift and retract, mark, and replace targets. They should be of sufficient height to capture the exact projectile intended for the target and any ricochet that might occur from the projectile striking the floor of the target range fairway. Usually the top is at 5 degrees in elevation from your 100 m firing line.

Wind Flags and Wind Estimation

If you know that you are not planning on building an indoor shooting range; remember that outdoor shooting ranges sometimes have wind flags, positioned between the firing line (wherever the shooters are) and the targets. Shooters observe these flags to make an estimate of the wind velocity, which is subsequently converted into a lateral minute of angle point of target corrections or, alternatively, windage hold-off corrections. The flag method is the most common method used to estimate wind velocity. A flag blowing in the wind will naturally blow off from the flagpole, with the angle of the base of the flag to the flagpole increasing with increasing wind speed.

Wind Estimation and Corrections

To estimate the wind speed in miles; the angle in degrees between the base of the flag to the flagpole at the position between the shooter and the target is divided from 4. For instance, an angle of 60 degrees between the base of the flag and a flagpole would be estimated to get a 15-mph windspeed. The clock method is then used to determine the full value, 50 percent values, or no value corrections in a minute of angle for the wind. Aligning the target at the 12 o’clock position with the 6 o’clock position being directly behind the shot; winds at 3 or 9 o’clock are equated to a complete value. Winds at 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 o’clock are equated to half value, and winds at 12 and 6 o’clock are equated without value.

Safety and Training

Regardless of whether building an indoor shooting range or an outdoor gun range; you should always wear eye protection along with hearing protection (ear muffs or ear plugs) at all times when within the defined boundaries of the firing range. Anyone nearby is vulnerable to gunpowder discharge or cartridge primers, that can be inhaled or can burn or damage skin or clothing. Additionally, the discharging of firearms in indoor home ranges can develop noise levels in excess of 140 dB.

Protective Gear and Public Health Concerns

To combat this, it is commonly recommended that all those inside the range double up on their ear protection using the two earplugs and over-the-head ear muffs to guard bystanders from sound vulnerability. Indoor ranges can be particularly unsafe, because of high accidents and increased noise ailments at which the design or management is not of the quality conducive to best practices that Spire Ranges always adheres to.

 Safety Regulations and Health Risks

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a notice that presents 5 case reports documenting lead and noise statements; and also examines firing assortment operations, exposure assessment, and control methods, existing regulations, along with exposure requirements and guidelines. Additional information about reducing harmful exposures within indoor firing ranges can be found at NIOSH.

Lead Exposure and Safety Areas

In 2013, The National Academy of Sciences published a report related to health risks associated with building an indoor shooting range involving recurrent lead exposure. The report highlighted the shortcomings of direct exposure specifications and advocated The Department of Defense to update its own guidelines and practices for protecting shooters from direct exposure on gun ranges.

Training and Certification

Building an indoor shooting range can carry significant risk of lead poisoning and is therefore a public health concern. Safety areas within your shooting range is extremely important. When building an indoor shooting range at home, please consider incorporating a small protective area for shooters to be able to handle unloaded firearms. Safety areas are frequently used in lively shooting sport disciplines and PPC 1500, and can for instance be used to pack, unpack, or holster a gun, cleaning or repair, dry firing and training with empty magazines.

Training Courses and Qualifications

In some countries, no license or advanced training beyond merely gun familiarization and range guidelines familiarization is required for using a shooting range. In other countries, participants must be part of an organized club and must maintain licenses for possession of individual firearms. However, a common requirement is that the shooter must be of legal age (or have a guardian present) prior to shooting. If you feel inadequate and would like to obtain further training; there are an array of safety courses, concealed carry courses, along with advanced-level training in firearms techniques, for a cost available to you. In the majority of scenarios, you may consider any number of courses and qualify for a certification as well.

Get Started Today

If you are ready to get started in building an indoor shooting range in your basement or perhaps you have your sights on an outdoor shooting range design, give Spire Ranges a call today. We are the premier experts when it comes to commercial gun shooting ranges or building an indoor shooting range with many personal customizations!


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