Shooting Ranges Resource Guide
Shooting ranges are located throughout the United States and they vary in type. Whether indoor or outdoor, they allow for training practice as well as for experienced gun owners to exercise their skills. Most cities and overpopulated areas have indoor shooting ranges while rural areas may utilize outdoor facilities. Each shooting range has its own rules, regulations and requirements including the types of firearms used and how firearms enter and exit the premises. Though shooting ranges are designed to provide the safest atmosphere, there are concerns regarding exposure to toxic levels of lead at various shooting ranges. Another concern regarding shooting ranges is the noise level and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts regular reviews regarding these levels.
Types of Shooting Ranges
There are several types of shooting ranges. These include indoor shooting ranges, outdoor shooting ranges and target ranges. Of the three, indoor shooting ranges pose the greatest danger due to high amounts of lead, high noise volume and other contaminants that may be present in the air.
Frequented by recreational city shooters and law enforcement officers, indoor shooting ranges are very popular. It is imperative that those who frequent indoor ranges take steps to lessen the effect of hazards. Those who spend time at shooting ranges are advised to use the Centers for Disease Control recommended Lead Tech Wipes that helps remove 99% of lead and other toxins from the skin.
Those interested in shooting in different weather conditions or who want to practice firing at long distance ranges may find that outdoor shooting ranges are best. There are many security measures that must be enacted in order for outdoor shooting ranges to operate safely. As with indoor ranges, exposure to high amounts of lead and toxic chemicals pose safety hazards for outdoor ranges. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has a searchable listing of both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges by state. You may find ranges based upon the type of firearm used, such as handgun, shotgun and rifle as well as instructional and teaching ranges and women and youth programs.
Safety Practices and Equipment
Safety is of the utmost importance, regardless of the type of shooting range one frequents. Firearm safety is crucial and it is imperative that those who frequent firing ranges understand the dangers and risks involved. There are several steps that people may take to ensure they are prepared for handling guns and to minimize the risk of accidents.
Always handle your firearm as if it was loaded while at the same time, ensuring it is only loaded when you are ready to fire. Don’t depend solely upon your firearm’s safety to prevent it from firing, but treat it as loaded at all times. Never place your finger on a firearm’s trigger unless you are ready to fire. When firing, consider what is beyond the target and not just the target itself. Remain alert and aware of your environment, situation and surroundings.
Each shooting range has its own safety rules that are enforced. Familiarize yourself with the range’s rules beforehand and make certain that you listen and obey all instructions from the Range Master. Shooting ranges require the use of eye and hearing protection as these are essential. Always comply with the range’s rules and wear the proper gear. If the range requires the use of safety, vests then wear those as well. Range Masters work at shooting ranges in order to ensure the environment remains one that is safe. Listen to their advice and if you are unsure of anything ask for help. Keep in mind that firearms are not toys but weapons and must be handled carefully. Never leave a loaded weapon unattended.
Shooting ranges are educational as well as recreational. Those that are inexperienced with firearms should never feel intimidated to take instructional classes. Firing ranges offer a number of different classes including using a handgun and those specifically designed for new shooters. Check to determine what firearm is taught in each class as the range may provide training in handguns, shotguns, rifles and even archery. Some instructors offer private classes while others arrange a group setting. Other options include obtaining concealed handgun licenses and other training as well. Classes vary by range so call ahead to determine which range best meets your needs.
Here are several links to various organizations as well as information regarding shooting ranges throughout the United States.
National Association of Shooting Ranges: Official website for the National Shooting Sports Foundation
Where to Shoot: Find shooting ranges in your area
NRA: Official sight of the National Rifle Association
Outdoor Shooting Range Best Practices (PDF): A guide to constructing outdoor shooting ranges
Indoor Lead and Firing Ranges: Fact sheet regarding dangers of high lead at shooting ranges
Best Management Practices for Lead at Shooting Ranges EPA (PDF): The Environmental Protection Agency examines high levels of lead at shooting ranges
Shooting Ranges in West Virginia (PDF): Guide that features safety tips, rules and regulations for those attending West Virginia shooting ranges
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NISH) Indoor Shooting Ranges: Collection of publications, articles and health hazard evaluations regarding indoor shooting ranges