How to Keep a Clean and Healthy Shooting Range

How to Keep a Clean and Healthy Shooting Range


Keeping a clean and healthy shooting range involves three fundamentals:

Ballistic containment: Ensure the range doesn’t let any bullets escape or ricochet dangerously.

Air-handling: Making sure the range brings in outside air, maintains a downrange laminar flow within OSHA specifications, filters that air, and exhausts air free of lead and other dangerous particulate.

Periodic cleaning: Performing the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and biannual maintenance necessary to prevent the accumulation of lead dust and unspent gunpowder and ensure that your containment and air handling are performing as they should.

When utilizing standard projectiles, it’s imperative to recognize the presence of lead dust and residual powder extending from the firing line downrange. This hazard poses a significant risk that may extend farther than expected. As MILO Live project manager Mike Hansen points out, “You can’t just go in with a broom or a shop vac and start dry sweeping because you have the potential for a spark, which will make a bomb out of your vacuum cleaner. And you’ll be kicking up lead dust.”

In order to maintain a safe and healthy shooting range, every range operator needs to create comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This helps ensure that no important safety or hazard mitigation steps get missed.


Creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Your Shooting Range 

There are four key categories that MILO Live recommends every range operator consider while crafting their cleaning and maintenance SOPs:

Lead Testing:

  • Both initial baseline lead testing for range personnel and periodic lead exposure testing

Staff Training and Supplies:

  • Proper cleaning and maintenance training for staff
  • Proper PPE (personal protective equipment) for staff to wear during cleaning and maintenance operations (e.g., NIOSH-approved respirators or masks, gloves, disposable coveralls, etc.)
  • Proper range cleaning equipment (e.g., an “explosion-proof” firing-range vacuum with HEPA filtration, “D-Lead” wipes, etc.)
  • Proper hazardous waste handling and disposal procedures

Maintenance Procedures:

  • Daily/weekly/monthly bullet trap inspection and maintenance, including a light coat of oil on exposed elements to prevent caking of lead dust or unspent powder
  • Daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/biannual inspection and maintenance of various elements of the air-handling system (including daily confirmation that the range has negative air pressure, regular checks and replacement of pre-filters and HEPA filtration elements, greasing exhaust fan bearings, checking belts, etc.)

Quality Assurance:

  • Proper third-party testing and air balancing for the air-handling system (i.e., a “TAB Report”)
  • Proper licensing and qualifications for range staff


There Are No “One-Size-Fits-All” SOPs

Every range is unique: the range design, combined with usage patterns, operating in a specific state and community—even the prevailing weather conditions—can have an effect on maintenance and health/safety procedures.

“That’s why everyone needs to develop their own standard operating procedures,” Hansen notes. “At MILO Live, we produce a custom O & M manual for every range that we deliver. This incorporates all the components internally that are part of the range, with all of the spec sheets they’ll need to put together their SOPs. We also include the NIOSH, OSHA, and NSSF documentation because that’s really the guideline for range operations and safety, plus whatever local or state or other requirements they might need to meet.”


Making it Easy to Put Health and Safety Front and Center

Health and safety are at the core of MILO Live range design. Obviously, that starts with ballistic containment. Full ballistic containment is built into the system, which relies on third-party verified ballistic and sound-dampening materials to create the zero Surface Danger Zone (SDZ) required for range safety certification under the most stringent guidelines.

But it doesn’t end there. Every MILO Live indoor range includes integrated vertical “media-free” bullet traps and its own independent HVAC system, with down-range laminar flow and HEPA filtration. The tested noise level outside most MILO Live ranges is just 8 dB over ambient when firing a 9mm pistol—that’s quieter than a whispered conversation.

Looking to build a safe and healthy shooting range? Call us today to discuss your needs and allow us to put our expertise to work for you.