The HVAC System in Your Shooting Range

Because air quality needs to be one of your highest priorities, an efficient and quality HVAC system in your shooting range is essential.

Visiting the local gun range is a great and exciting way for your clients to practice their aim, perfect their shot, and improve their skills. But without a decent HVAC system installed in your firing range, the air quality can be harmful to your customers’ health. Air quality is paramount when building an indoor shooting range.

Learn more about the importance of an effective and efficient HVAC system in your indoor firing range below.

Things To Look Out For When Buying an HVAC System in Your Shooting Range

There are many claims made by HVAC suppliers stating they can supply your indoor range with 200 to 400% more fresh air than other systems on the market. Sure, that is doable, but it’ll cost you! Make sure that you ask your provider for all data and documentation supporting and confirming you are getting what they say they are supplying.

In standard Recirculation systems, you can expect 25% of the total Range Supply Air to be fresh, outside air, which is typical if you are trying to get 50-75 fpm airflow at the shooter and downrange. Fresh, outdoor air is necessary to control the carbon monoxide levels inside the range. Recirculating the same air without incorporating some new, fresh air will put range employees and patrons at a considerable risk of breathing in toxic air.

To have 200 to 400% “more” fresh air than a typical Recirculation system, the following would be necessary and/or occur:

  • Operational and energy costs would increase as the system efficiencies would decrease.
  • The system’s ability to control humidity would be lost unless a much larger unit with the necessary cooling capacity is put in place.
  • Equipment size would need to increase to match the increased cooling demands.

Can HVAC Purge Systems Really Generate 200 to 400% “More” Fresh Air?

Guidelines set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) require airflow from behind the shooter downrange at 75 fpm. In a Purge system, 100% of the total Range Supply Air is fresh, outdoor air. Using mechanical cooling with Purge systems would require equipment with three times the amount of cooling capacity and operational costs. This results from 100% of the Range Supply Air being conditioned from the outside temps and humidity levels down to the indoor range conditions you desire. Once the conditioned air flows down the range, 100% of it is put into the atmosphere. This process recaptures none of the energy put into the Range Supply Air, making it a much less efficient system. Dryer climates have greater success using evaporative cooling with Purge systems. They use far less energy than mechanical cooling systems while adding moisture to dry air.

To achieve 200 to 400% “more” fresh air than a typical Purge system, the following would be necessary and would occur:

  • Fans with 200 to 400% greater capacity.
  • Fan energy consumption instantly increases to accommodate 200 to 400% greater capacity.
  • Equipment costs would increase as a result of the 200 to 400% increase in equipment size.
  • The Velocity of air going through the range would be 200 to 400%, which is much higher than the NIOSH recommendations.
  • The volume of air moving down the range would be 200 to 400% greater.

Obtaining Laminar Flow to Move Lead and Toxic Fumes Away from the Shooter

Laminar airflow is a critical part of all range ventilation system designs. The amount and severity of toxic fumes are greatly reduced when the airflow approaching and passing the shooter is laminar. Turbulent airflow can cause lead dust and hazardous fumes right to the shooter. Systems that are property designed provide laminar airflow for standing, kneeling, and prone shooting positions. Some businesses will market that by angling the stalls or removing diffusers, you’ll meet OSHA standards. However, the engineering does not lie — directing air around and over the shooter is crucial for keeping them safe. 

Check your system for laminar flow with smoke test kits to ensure air is moving in the desired direction. Make sure to check the airflow from behind the firing line. Start the smoke test on the floor, move up toward the ceiling at a consistent rate, and ensure that air moves constantly, from the bottom to the top, ensuring proper 50 to 75 feet per minute. You shouldn’t experience any swirling before getting to the shooter.

Carbon Monoxide Monitoring and the HVAC System in Your HVAC Company

Many inexperienced HVAC companies do not provide carbon monoxide monitoring to shooting ranges, which is a direct violation of OSHA requirements. You’ll find that is especially common for companies that are not familiar with managing lead dust and other toxic fumes produced by firearms. 

It is essential for ranges to have the necessary equipment to monitor CO levels. Monitoring carbon monoxide levels in the Range Supply Air is crucial for providing a safe and comfortable environment for range employees and customers. Alarms need to sound when monitored CO levels reach a predesignated concentration (that is well below harmful CO levels) to protect all occupants.

Ventilation systems need to expel a certain percentage of indoor air to the atmosphere and replace it with fresh, outdoor air to exhaust CO from inside a gun range. All systems need to have a damper control at the exhaust to increase flow when CO levels rise because of heavy range use. If you have a standard Recirculation system, always monitor carbon monoxide levels so you can control how much air is being exhausted, the amount of air being recirculated, and how much fresh air is being brought into the range. Of course, standard Purge systems require no carbon monoxide monitoring and no MAU Bypass because all of the Range Supple Air is fresh air.

Regardless of the ventilation system your range has, Recirculation or Purge, NIOSH recommends that the 10% greater airflow be expelled from the range envelope than what is being supplied into it. This produces a negative pressure in the range relative to the space outside of the range envelope. This is a crucial design component and ensures that lead dust and other toxic fumes are not introduced into spaces next to the range envelope.

The Importance of Intuitive Smart HVAC Controls

Having control systems that are easy to use, understand, diagnose, and adjust is essential when running a gun range. Settling for a basic start and stop system just won’t do. Instead, utilize available technology that ensures you are properly serving your system when necessary. Find a control display with the following options:

  • ON/OFF
  • Mode (Fan, Heating, Cooling)
  • Safe to Shoot 
  • Alarms/Faults
  • Range Temperature
  • Range Humidity (for Recirculation systems)
  • Filter Status/Life
  • Equipment Service Information

Need an HVAC System in Your Shooting Range? Contact Action Target Today!

For the best HVAC system in your shooting range, contact the experts at Action Target. We provide the industry’s best ventilation systems for new range installations and existing ranges in Provo, Utah, that exceed all environmental standards. We offer a complete package of air filters, controls, and maintenance to ensure that your customers, employees, and the surrounding area are protected from the health hazards associated with lead exposure and other air-borne toxins found in indoor shooting ranges. Our innovative ventilation system designs exceed NIOSH, EPA, and OSHA air quality standards and are customizable to your particular range installation. Contact Action Target to learn more today.