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What to Consider When Building a Home Shooting Range

 

We all recognize that frequent practice is vital to being able to safely and effectively handle a firearm and reliably put shots on target. Nonetheless, less than 13% of all U.S. gun owners report regularly making it to the range. Roughly half of all gun owners say they go to a range rarely if ever. Given that the average person tends to exaggerate how often they get exercise (e.g., while 1 in 3 adults claim to get daily exercise, only 1 in 20 actually do) it’s nearly certain that even these disappointing numbers are an overstatement.

Mike Hansen isn’t surprised. Hansen is a project manager at MILO Live (formerly Shooting Range Industries LLC), a leading designer of state-of-the-art shooting range and live-fire training systems.

In his experience, although most people cite convenience as the major factor keeping them away from the range (most commercial shooting ranges not being particularly near most residential or commercial areas), he doesn’t necessarily believe convenience is the driving factor.

 

The End of Performance Anxiety: Home Shooting Ranges Offer More Comfort, Flexibility, Time & Privacy

“People just don’t go out to the range as often as they’d like,” Hansen notes. “In part, people avoid going to the range because of the crowds or having trouble setting aside the time. But it’s also partly because they don’t feel like they can take their time and work through the basics without having someone pressuring to get in behind you.”

Grip, stance, sight picture, trigger pull—these are all vital elements of good shooting practice. You can work on these in isolation at home with Snap Caps or a SIRT, but at some point you need to bring them all together into a single fluid shooting practice that includes the kick and report of firing.

The time pressure of a public commercial range and having someone waiting for your stall—or simply standing around watching—isn’t conducive to giving those fundamentals the full attention they deserve.

Most commercial ranges are also extremely limited in the firing positions and skills they can accommodate. Rapid firing, drawing, shooting from the hip, firing from different positions, shooting from the ground, shooting past cover/concealment, tactical movement—few commercial ranges can accommodate any of these. And if they can, are you comfortable with the other visitors to the range doing them while you’re present?

 

No Knuckleheads Allowed

This brings us to perhaps the biggest issue with regularly visiting commercial shooting ranges: Safety. Even a well-run range is only as safe as the other shooters. Hansen has learned the hard way.

“As an individual,” he notes, “you just don’t have much control about what others do at the range. Just one guy doing something stupid can get someone down then firing line killed.”

Hansen recalls being at a range once when a bullet struck the rifle he was holding. “I was probably 100 feet away, in a range with 60 positions. A guy carelessly popped off a round from a handgun when he was picking it up off his tray, shot it all the way across the firing line and hit the rifle right in my hands.” Even with every safety precaution in place, “How does a range master or range safety officer catch that before it happens? I spent six years in the Navy, and then two more in Saudi Arabia working on their coastal patrol boats, and was almost shot at my local range.”

 

How To Make a Home Indoor Shooting Range Safe

Having a home range solves these problems: you can take your time with each shot, work on the skills important to you, and completely avoid being exposed to other individuals’ dubious skills, bad habits, or poor judgment.

But only about 17% of Americans live in an area where an outdoor home range is remotely conceivable. Even if you have the space and zoning, outdoor home ranges pose potentially serious environmental and health issues.

Meanwhile, indoor ranges are extremely hard to retrofit to an existing property and challenging to build even as a stand-alone structure. They require specialized construction techniques and materials just to be safe and may have to meet an array of additional specifications to be legal or insurable.

For example, for practical purposes, the walls, ceiling, and floor of an indoor range will need to be 4,000 to 5,000 PSI concrete, with walls at least 8″ thick. You’ll need a backstop that will catch (not ricochet) bullets. If you plan to safely work on tactical movement down range, you’ll also want wall treatments that prevent ricochets.

Most importantly, you need a lead mitigation strategy that obviously includes bullet traps. But much more important is an HVAC system that will create negative air pressure in the range, maintain a down-range laminar flow, and catch and hold lead particulate. You need to be positive that the system doesn’t inadvertently drive lead-bearing air into your living quarters, so you’ll want the range’s HVAC system to be entirely separate from your home, with its own HEPA filters.

Finally, if you’re DIYing a home shooting range, all the givens at any normal range—target retrievers, good lighting, sound mitigation, and so on—are going to be extras for you.

 

Ready Range Modular Private Home Shooting Range: Custom Built & Zero Construction

Thankfully, DIY is no longer your only option. MILO Live offers a fully containerized home shooting range version of its popular Ready Range modular indoor shooting range system.

Each Ready Range is a true set-in-place “zero construction” solution, custom-built to your specifications. Once the module is set on a concrete pad and hooked to utilities, it’s ready to go. There is no further construction.

The Ready Range is an extremely safe place for you and your family to build and hone your skills. Full ballistic containment is built into the system, which incorporates specially selected ballistic and sound dampening materials, verified by third-party labs to create the “Zero Surface Danger Zone” (SDZ) required for range safety certification.

Lead mitigation is at the core of the Ready Range, which comes equipped with integrated vertical “media-free” bullet traps and its own independent HVAC system (with appropriate down-range laminar flow and HEPA filters to capture all lead particulate). The tested noise level outside the ready range unit when firing 9mm rounds is only 8dB over ambient (for context: a whisper is 20 to 30dB). Fully customizable to include lockable weapons storage, shooting stalls, fold-down trays, swing-out barricades, target retrieval systems, video judgmental live-fire training systems, and special finishes.

Because it is built with containment and forced-entry in mind and has its own utility hookup and HVAC, the Ready Range also doubles as exceedingly secure firearm and ammunition storage, as well as a potential “panic” or safe room in case of emergency.