A Complete Guide to Building Your Home Shooting Range
You gather up all your shooting gear, hop in the car, fight traffic, search for a parking space, part ways with your hard-earned money, wait for a lane to open up, and watch the clock so you don’t go over your allotted amount of time. Doesn’t really sound like a ton of fun, does it? Sadly, this is the reality for most shooters everywhere.
That is unless you’ve got your own shooting range at home. Plenty of people have shooting ranges on their own property, so it’s definitely feasible, but is it the right option for you? We’ll take a look at all the things you should consider before embarking on building a home range of your own.
Table of Contents
Why Build Your Own Range? Is it Worth It?
At first glance, the answer to this question seems obvious, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. The reason I say this is because there’s a lot that goes into building and maintaining a range – even a simple one – both in terms of time and money.
The obvious benefit to having your own range is that you’ll save money on range-time rentals in the long run, but do you actually shoot enough to offset the costs of building a range?
Are you the kind of shooter who likes to practice non-traditional shooting, i.e. more than just poking holes in static paper or steel targets? If so, chances are that you can’t do that at your local public range. In that case, the practice options alone might be worth the cost to build and maintain your own range.
In the end, the decision is yours and yours alone, but make sure you’ve thought it all through before deciding to go full-steam ahead. If you’ve considered all the aspects of building a home shooting range and decided that it’s the right thing for you, it’s now time to start considering what kind of range you’re going to build.
Considerations for Building an Outdoor vs. an Indoor Gun Range
Regardless of whether you choose to build an indoor range or an outdoor range, there’s one consideration that you must factor in before making any other decisions, and that is: is it legal? Make sure you’ve consulted with any and all local laws, ordinances, etc. to ensure that whatever kind of range you want to build is legal and allowable. Assuming you’ve gotten the legal green light, now it’s time to decide what kind of range to create.
On a very basic level, building an outdoor range is a lot easier, faster, versatile, and cost-effective than building an indoor range. However, if you’ve got the ability to build indoors and you don’t need or want an elaborate setup, then it might be a good option.
Building an Outdoor Gun Range
Designing and building an outdoor range is a very open-ended project. As long as you’ve got the proper amount of space to build it safely, the sky (and your wallet) is the limit in terms of what you choose to include in your range.
You can go as basic or as advanced as you want. It could be as simple as a single dirt berm on the back of the property or as elaborate as what you see set up on Hickok45’s property with all sorts of targets at a variety of different distances.
Building an Indoor Gun Range
Most of the time, an indoor range isn’t going to be an add-on feature to a house. Instead, it will be a part of the original build design. This is because it requires special construction techniques and materials to remain safe and legal, and doing these things after the fact can be an even more costly and time-consuming venture.
For example, walls should be solid concrete at least 8” thick and use at least 4,000 PSI concrete. The ceiling should also use at least 4,000 PSI concrete, but you should avoid hollow core or other pre-cast concrete because it offers reduced protection. Solid concrete walls and ceilings provide the best solution to dampen noise and offer extra ballistic protection—crucial if your range is in a basement with occupied space above. The floor should use 5,000 PSI concrete.
Essential Shooting Range Components
Shooting ranges are made up of two different types of items: those that are essential and those that are optional, but nice to have. First up, let’s tackle the essentials.
In case it wasn’t already obvious, a backstop is the most important and essential part of a shooting range. Without a reliable way to stop the rounds you send downrange from leaving the area, then the entirety of the rest of the range is irrelevant. How you create one and what you use is up to you, but there are a lot of options available.
It could be as simple and inexpensive as a large, dense dirt pile, a pit dug slightly into the ground, or a stack of railroad ties. It could be as elaborate and pricey as a professional rubber berm or steel trap. Again, what you use isn’t nearly as important as how you use it. Keep those rounds contained by any means necessary!
If you have your own shooting range, chances are good that you’ll become the new “favorite friend” among your shooting buddies. You’ll also probably become the preferred place to introduce new shooters to our sport because it will be a more laid-back environment than at a public range.
Whether you’re dealing with new or seasoned shooters, accidents do happen. That’s why they’re called accidents. As such, you should have the following items somewhere on your range: first aid kit, eye and ear protection, fire extinguisher, a list of emergency numbers, and at least one suppressor. Yep, that’s right: suppressors count as safety gear – especially if you’ve got your own indoor shooting range.Shop Banish
Ventilation and Filtration
This is really geared only toward indoor ranges because Mother Nature provides an outdoor range’s ventilation and filtration.
If you’re building an indoor range, it is absolutely essential to incorporate proper ventilation and filtration into your design. Your shooting range’s ventilation system must be separate from your home system because it filters out harmful lead particulates and heavy metals. Ideally, your ventilation system should achieve a laminar negative airflow of 75 FPM, but not less than 50 FPM, and use an air filtration bank of HEPA filters.
Shooting Stalls and/or Benches
You’re going to need some designated places from which to shoot so that you keep a safe delineation between the firing line and what is both in front of and behind it. This is easily accomplished by something as simple as setting up some folding tables and chairs in a given location.
If you want something more permanent, you can build your own shooting benches or buy one of the many pre-made products available on the market.
If you’re building an indoor range, you might want to set up actual shooting stalls if your range is bigger than one lane. Because of the nature of an indoor range, having stalls will help keep down some of the noise in your space.
Optional Shooting Range Components
Now that we’ve got the essentials out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the nice optional features you can incorporate into your range.
Yeah, you could walk down to your targets once the range goes cold and replace the paper, but it’s way cooler when the targets come to you. There are a whole host of professional target retrieval systems on the market, but the concept itself is very basic and doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated.
Rigging up a clothesline and some pulleys is a very easy and effective way to create your own target retriever.
You can’t hit what you can’t see. (Calm down, extreme long-range shooters; that’s not what we mean.) Being able to see what’s going on at the range goes beyond just being able to see the targets. It also means being able to see your equipment and your fellow shooters so that everything and everyone remains safe.
Mother Nature provides a good bit of lighting for you out on the range, but sometimes your schedule doesn’t line up with hers. When that’s the case, you’re going to need some kind of artificial lighting. You can use a portable generator, solar panels, extension cords, power banks, or any other number of ways to rig up some lighting on your range. Thankfully, almost all of the options are budget-friendly, so you can do some experimenting to see what works best on your specific range.
Punching holes in paper targets or ringing static pieces of steel can be a lot of fun … for a time. Eventually, you’ll want to change things up, and this is easily done with reactive targets.
There are a lot of options on the market, and they include things like target trees that are great for head-to-head competitions, spinners, swingers, poppers, etc.
While these are what you might think of as reactive targets, don’t forget the simpler items as well. Reactive targets also include things like bowling pins, milk jugs, tin cans, etc.
Shooting Range Layout and Design
There’s a lot that goes into building a shooting range, and some of the most important aspects of that take place before you start building. Let’s take a look at a few, and then explore how to proceed once those decisions are made.
What Will You Be Shooting?
How you plan on using the range will determine how you build it. A range geared only toward handgun target shooting will be a lot different than a range designed for tactical training scenarios or long-range shooting.
Pick Your Location
This goes hand in hand with the section above. Once you know how you need to set up your range, it’s time to determine where to set up your range. For example, you might find that you simply do not have enough space for a long-range setup.
No matter what location you choose, make sure that you’re in full compliance with any local laws or codes in terms of safety and sound.
Equally as important as your firing line and actual range is non-shooting space. That is, somewhere to safely stage gear, hang out while waiting to shoot, etc. You might want to add a picnic bench and/or an outdoor tent to provide a relaxing space for people who are not on the firing line.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
For some people, money is not an issue. If that sounds like you, then there are a number of companies who can bring your range desires to life, whether it be indoor or outdoor, and all you’ll have to do is tell them what you want, write the check, and show up to shoot.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for most people. Your range will likely be a DIY venture, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you’re going to be building berms or digging pits, it can be tempting to try to save some money by recruiting your buddies and doing the work with good, old-fashioned elbow grease. However, you’ll probably find that it’s a lot more work than you intended. If so, it might not be a bad idea to see how much it would cost to rent a small backhoe or another kind of equipment to make the work go faster. The amount of time you could save might be worth the cost of the rental. You might even luck out and find someone who will trade equipment usage for range time.
Ready to Build?
Hopefully, this has helped you decide whether or not a home shooting range is right for you. If it is, that’s great! Now it’s time to get building! When you get to the safety gear stage of your range design, let us know. You’ll definitely want to include a suppressor or two or three in your plan.
Silencer Central is here to help you navigate the silencer-buying process in a way that is both easy and legal on state and federal levels. We have been selling silencers all day, every day for more than 15 years in every state where silencers are legal.
Get in touch with us and we’d be happy to answer any and all suppressor-related questions you may have. Once that’s squared away, we’d be happy to help you start your own journey toward suppressor ownership.