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Shooting Range Lead Removal: Outdoor Best Practices

 

Around 60,000 metric tons of lead ammo is fired in the US each year, most of it at shooting ranges. That’s a lot of lead being released into the air—where it immediately coats shooters’ faces and hands—and scattered on the ground—where it may leech into groundwater or migrate beyond your property. Without reliable shooting range lead cleanup and shooting range lead removal procedures, you are exposed not simply to lead, but also to legal liabilities (fines, lawsuits, workers’ compensation claims) and the very real possibility that operating your range might harm your customers, workers, neighbors, and the environment.

From a human-safety standpoint, the number one mitigation is for shooters and workers to minimize the possibility that they might ingest lead dust. That means handling bullets and spent casings with care and making a point of thoroughly washing hands and face immediately after shooting.

Range owners can’t do much about shooters’ personal habits (aside from making sure to have plenty of soap and water readily available). But there are concrete steps any range can take to further protect workers, shooters, and the environment. Installing the right mitigation measures now will reduce EPA/OSHA liability, minimize shooting range lead removal costs, and add an extra revenue stream you can reinvest in your range.

According to EPA’s Best Management Practices for Lead Outdoor Shooting Ranges, step one in outdoor shooting range lead removal is control and containment. Shooting range lead removal is orders of magnitude easier (which is to say cheaper, faster, safer, and less disruptive to your operation) when you know precisely where that lead is:

“The single most effective BMP [best management practice] for managing lead … is by bullet containment. Owners/operators should employ a containment system that allows for the maximum containment of lead on-site.”

 

Shooting Range Lead Removal: Not All Bullet Traps Are Equal

EPA guidelines state that steel traps are far and away the best mitigation strategy for outdoor ranges. But they go on to note that not all traps are created equally. Some offer extremely limited shooting angels, and most will contain environmental lead hazards effectively while creating acute lead exposure risks for workers clearing those traps.

MILO Live’s Bullet Bank is designed from the ground up to be a better outdoor shooting range lead mitigation solution. First and foremost, the Bullet Bank is better at catching lead. It’s built around a vertical bullet trap design that’s more effective at containing rounds and preventing bullets from getting around the trap. Instead of ending up with lead scattered through earth berms and sand traps or sitting in trays, all lead bullets correctly placed downrange end up in buckets beneath each bullet trap.

That’s the second key advantage: with Bullet Bank shooting range lead removal takes just minutes and absolutely minimizes human contact. The buckets filled with bullets can be removed, sealed, and replaced in minutes—with next to no lead exposure. There’s no sifting sand traps or pouring trays into another container; just put a lid on a full bucket of lead and swap in an empty. This doesn’t just massively reduce lead exposure risks, legal liability, maintenance costs, and downtime. It also preserves the maximum recycling value of the recovered metal (when compared to the “dirty” lead that results from sifting shot from earth berms and sand traps). Outdoor range operators can get top dollar (with minimal effort) when their lead recycler comes by to pick up the next pallet of spent lead, already sealed up and ready to go.