Are Gun Ranges Safe? Everything You Need to Know

Many people enjoy and participate in shooting sports. Any beginning shooter has many questions, and one of them should be, is this a safe sport?  

More particularly, is it safe to go to a gun range?  

Gun ranges are safe. Indoor ranges feature containment areas designed to absorb errant bullets rather than creating ricochets. Ceiling baffles deflect bullets away from the shooters. Bullet trap designs catch and retain bullets making retrieval of the copper and lead materials environmentally safe. 

What Makes a Gun Range Safe?

Industry standards and building codes set the minimum requirements for a safe gun range installation. 

Several elements make up the safety side of a gun range operation. The design and construction of the gun range are basic factors based on known standards learned over many years by the shooting industries. 

Operational and maintenance standards are the responsibility of the gun range owner and operator. Often the insurance carrier works closely with the owner and manager of the gun range to develop policies and procedures that ensure safe gun range operations.

Knowing and understanding the rules for safe gun handling as well as abiding by the policies and rules set forth by the gun range management is part of safe gun range use.

What Goes into Gun Range Design?

Gun range designers base their designs on known industry standards, common engineering principles, and local building codes. The range equipment installed by range design companies engineer the equipment to meet rigorous standards then test the equipment well past those standards. 

Professionally designed gun ranges protect shooters inside the range and anyone outside the range. Safety is the paramount goal of every gun range design.  Controlling bullets in the range is a priority for any safe gun range.  Designers utilize various methods such as concrete or cement-filled concrete block walls, bullet trap systems, and ceiling baffles.

Air handling and filtration systems protect the environment. Harmful or dangerous elements are quickly removed from the range and passed through special filters that remove the dangerous particulates before returning the air outside the range.

Are Older Gun Ranges Safe?

States require gun ranges to carry a minimum level of insurance. The insurance companies require gun range operators to keep their facilities compliant by performing routine inspections, maintenance, installing new equipment as needed, and documenting the maintenance of the facility.

Gun ranges are subject to inspections from several agencies, including OSHA. The local building inspection department issues occupancy licenses and routinely inspects the building for safe operational status. The health department usually oversees air quality issues, including the safe operation of the air handling and filtration systems. 

The ongoing inspection process ensures that no matter the age of a gun range, it’s in the safest possible condition for anyone visiting. Gun range owners have a vested interest in maintaining their older facilities in top condition. 

How Are Shooting Range Rules Enforced?

Range operators, working with their insurance provider, establish range safety rules. The shooting range provides its employees with training and certifies Range Safety Officers who comply with the NRA guidelines. These Range Safety Officers control the action at the firing line inside the range. The rules are in place to make the range a safe place to enjoy shooting.

Each shooting range will establish and make known its rules and regulations for shooters at their range. Each shooter is required to acknowledge and sign a document confirming they follow the range rules before shooting. In most cases, these rules and regulations follow industry standards and well-known shooting safety rules.  These are the shooting range rules most commonly followed.

  • Don’t load your gun until you’re at the firing line or firing station. When you aren’t at the firing line or when the range is cold, your gun should be in a safe condition with the magazine removed, the slide locked in the open position, or the cylinder open.
  • Follow the Range Safety Officers commands promptly. 
  • Follow the range rules about maximum calibers and loads. 
  • Remember the three basic rules of safe gun handling:
    • Always keep the muzzle of your weapon pointing down range
    • Never place your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire
    • Treat every gun as if it were loaded
  • Always wear your personal hearing and eye protection equipment when you’re on the range.
  • Stay aware. Don’t get so focused on your shooting that you fail to notice things that may be unsafe. If you see something that you believe is a safety problem, notify the range safety officer immediately.

These rules are all in place to protect you and make your shooting experience enjoyable and safe. 

What Are the Shooters Responsibilities a Gun Range?

Shooters’ responsibilities are to know, understand, and follow the gun range rules and gun handling safety rules. Shooting safely and courteously is an essential part of gun range safety.

Gun ranges provide the safest facility and equipment available. The rules and regulations are in place to protect everyone. 

Contact Action Target

Commercial gun ranges are safe. From the design of the range facilities to the rules enforced by the range operators, everything focuses on shooter safety. 

With over 30 years of experience, Action Target can help you build the perfect range for your unique needs. Whether you’re building a commercial range that caters to casual or tactical training or a law enforcement range to better prepare your officers, our experts can help with the challenges of building a range. Talk to one of our representatives in your neck of the woods here