How to Build an Indoor Shooting Range
Many people never consider the possibility of setting up an indoor shooting range at home, but it is a viable option, and if you have the space and some spare time it can be an excellent project for the whole family to learn and practice safely. There are quite a few aspects to consider, but in this guide, we’ll give you the basic information you need to build a safe indoor shooting range. Setting on up that you can use as often as you like will also save you the fees that you would else have to pay if going to a professional shooting range. There are pros and cons to building your very own, but if you have the time and resources available, it’s something you should definitely consider. As long as you follow the right safety guidelines and the tips we have provided below, you should be pumped and ready to start making your very own straight away!
Am I Allowed to Build One?
The first step is to check out local State and Municipal laws. These will vary wildly depending on where you live, and it is always worth checking with the EPA in case there are specific restrictions for your area. Be aware that any indoor range you build can ONLY be for personal use; if you charge anyone for access, it will be classed as a business and therefore subject to inspection by OSHA.
Another consideration is your community. Obviously, if you live in an apartment block, you cannot build a range; but consider how close your neighbors are to your property; are they going to be ok with this?
If you are setting up your range in a barn or an outside building, you will likely have large doors or windows anyway, but if not, you really need to consider what kind of ventilation system you have. Many people set up indoor ranges in their basement, and as such need to make sure that there is an airflow coming in from BEHIND the shooter. A reasonably sized window will do. If you don’t have a big enough window, you could set up a fan and an extractor system. Having the “gun smoke” pushed away from you AND your line of sight is preferable. This will keep you safe and ensure better targeting.
Stopping the Bullet
This is the biggest part of your project. You have to make a decision on whether to buy (or make) a bullet trap, or to use the traditional Sand Stop. In terms of safety, you really can’t beat a big wall of sandbags; the military has been using these for years and they have the advantage of picking up stray shots (great if you are teaching someone in the family how to shoot safely). For the best protection, you could lay sandbags end to end two layers deep against the whole back wall.
To get in-depth on the figures of how much sand is needed to stop a bullet, you can see this article; it covers .22 LR from a revolver, 9mm, .45ACP, 5.56mm from an AR 15, 7.62x51 from a FAL, .308, .45-70 and a 12gauge slug. In the tests, no bullet penetrated further than six inches. BUT, if you are continuing to hit the same spot each time, the sand will be shifted and eaten away. It’s worth having the extra layers of protection and also rearranging your bags every couple of months to keep it in peak condition.
It's imperative that when you are shooting indoors that you use the right hearing protection before you fire anything. The last thing you want is the loud noise of the gun penetrating your eardrum. Usually shooting ranges provide their own ear protectors, however, since you are building your own range don't forget this essential piece of equipment.
A home range might not be that long, so as long as there is only one shooter on at a time, you can stroll down and replace your target. But if you want that extra ‘gun range feel”, or if you are teaching family members how to act safely at a range, you could set up a simple pulley system.
Have your targets in a light metal frame (this will help them hang better and be less impacted by wind) and have the frame hung on a line. You can use regular washing line looped around two wheels (one at the target and e and one at the shooter’s end). When you’ve finished shooting, just pull it in! It looks great, it promotes safe range usage and it’s easy to do.
The most important part of having an indoor range is safety. Commercial (or community) ranges will have followed every possible guideline on safety and security. If you’re going to make your own, you need to keep this in mind. Don’t EVER leave your guns at the range site; follow your normal safety protocol. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do at a regular commercial range and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
If you’re interested in building a great bullet trap, here’s a great video:
Ready To Build One?
Are your juices flowing yet? Have you decided that you’re fully confident in building your very own indoor shooting range? Good stuff, we’re glad. As mentioned earlier though, you must check out your local laws to find out if you have the green light to go ahead with building one. It does vary from state-to-state, so don’t just accept general advice on the subject.
Just remember that the most important thing you should consider when you make one of these indoor shooting ranges is how safe it is. All the necessary safety precautions should be taken to ensure that it is as safe as it can be for everyone that uses it.
If you do decide to make your very own, be sure to let us know how you get on!