View Full Version : Basement shooting range

November 21, 2006, 05:00 PM
I've been shooting a cardboard box, full of magazines and newspaper, ducttaped together, for about a month. This thing has held up great. I usually plink away with my 22s, but my 9mm & 45 rounds stop in it too. I only have about 40' of room, but its fun enough! Can only get in about 50rds of 22 in before it gets a little stinky:D

November 21, 2006, 05:02 PM
Make sure you have plenty of ventilation going with fresh air transfer. Airborne lead is very hazardous to your health.

November 21, 2006, 06:16 PM
yea, sounds like a plan, but I think I will feel safer at the range lol :D

November 21, 2006, 06:17 PM
If I were you, I would get that frangible no lead ammo for use in centerfire shooting. Safer for you and the family. If you have an accidental discharge, you dont want it ricocheting all over or going up thru the floor to wherever. You might use 22 ammo with copper washed bullets-perhaps would cut down on lead exposure. If you get alot of lead contamination all over your basement, you would probably have to have it all cleaned up somehow before selling. And you don't want the lead vapors and dust or fragments all over the place. I have heard of pellet rifle basement shooting but for any permanent installation in the basement for firearms shooting, I would take better measures myself. Hope your insurance covers that in case of accident.

November 21, 2006, 06:43 PM
I would really worry about proper ventilation. Breathing in too much lead will either make you sterile or have 2 headed babies or somesuch.
(Or maybe just cancer)

But that being said, that sounds awesome.

November 21, 2006, 07:14 PM
Didnt think to much on the lead vapors. I use copper washed ammo, maybe that stuffs cleaner? The centerfire stuff was just a test. Using a scoped rifle, and making same hole groups,but some 1/2" groups get in there also:D Thanks for the health warnings. I dont over do it , though:)

November 22, 2006, 12:07 PM
personally I would stick to an air rifle or bb gun for basement shooting because of the possible liability/ two headed baby/ holes in the floor/ and airborn lead particle issues. In our area it is illegal to discharge any weapon within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling unless you have written permission of the owner - how close are your neighbors? Be careful!!!

November 22, 2006, 05:42 PM
with poor ventilation, if you do this too long, you might want to check yourself often for a twitch or involentary movements....lead and those vapor's are not good for ya!

watch out for flyer's, that could be a serious prob.....ricochets and all;)

November 22, 2006, 07:33 PM
Bad idea. Very bad idea.

First, you're putting airborne lead into the house. The lead comes from the primer compound and the base of the bullet. If you use TMJ (i.e., plated) or JHP, the base of the bullet is covered so that will reduce the airborne lead somewhat. Non-toxic, lead-free rounds are available, but they cost ~3 times the cost of standard ammunition and the shelf life of the lead-free primers is suspect.

Second, you're dispersing unburnt powder all over your basement. Try this: go to your local gun club with a broom and a metal dustpan. Go the indoor range and gently sweep some of the dark-looking dust off the floor into the dustpan. Take the dustpan outside, well away from anything flammable. Standing as far away from the dustpan as you can, drop a lit match into the dustpan. Woooosssshhhh! Is that what you want all over your basement? And if you had a house fire, would your fire insurance still be in effect?

Get an airsoft gun or an airgun for practice in your basement. Don't shoot live rounds.

November 22, 2006, 09:18 PM
I do admit that I have fired some of the little primer powered CB cap ammo inside my house, down the hallway, from a bolt action 22 for fun or just to see if the gun will light a primer. They were the Mexican made Colibris or such what. No penetration in a board backstop, and no noise to speak of, but the do make a little smoke so it was pretty much limited testing. Also tested 22 revolvers indoors with that, but just enough for function testing. I have also fired some of those plastic cased plastic bullets from a 38, the kind that just take a primer to propel the "bullet". They need a good backstop indoors. Lot noisier than the primer powered 22's. But I never was overly concerned about the primer smoke. Good thing it was pretty much a limited experiment. You could get away with firing rimfire in your basement in a neigborhood, I guess. I might try it if I could ventilate the place, but all it would take would be one round going awry, or nosy Mrs. Kravitz peeking in your basement window and...

November 23, 2006, 09:03 AM
You could get away with firing rimfire in your basement in a neigborhood, I guess. I might try it if I could ventilate the place, but all it would take would be one round going awry, or nosy Mrs. Kravitz peeking in your basement window and...You're still going to deposit lead and unburnt powder in your basement, even if you have ventilation. Not a good idea.

Makarov The Lucky
November 28, 2006, 04:04 AM
Wow...I could see myself doing this once or twice on the spur of the moment but...you actually shoot in your basement...interesting...

January 17, 2007, 07:11 PM
I shoot the Speer plastic, primer powered practice rounds in the basement occasionally. An old refrigerator box with a towel hung inside stops them just fine. Cheap practice when the snow blows:)

January 17, 2007, 07:58 PM
:eek: Breathe in all that lead for a while and your family's all gonna think they're Napoleon;)

February 8, 2007, 11:01 PM
What a great idea. Shooting guns in the house! I bet the neighbors don't give you any crap...

February 9, 2007, 12:51 AM
And you are going to mention the lead contamination when you sell the house,,right? :rolleyes:

February 22, 2007, 03:52 PM
God forbid any of you shoot at an indoor shooting range:eek: :D Hold on.....I think I'm dying:p

February 22, 2007, 03:56 PM
And of course there is no chance of missing this fool proof backstop... right?

How about the ceiling, aka the floor of teh floor above you?

This is a very bad idea.

February 22, 2007, 08:41 PM
If you can miss a 18"x18" target at 40', with a scoped rifle, I would not try this;)

February 22, 2007, 08:41 PM
JDG: Do you live at an indoor range? Do your children crawl around on the floor of the indoor range? Didn't think so. If they did, their blood lead level would be significantly elevated. And decontaminating your house from the lead would be very expensive.

You don't have to go to that expense at an indoor range, because people don't live there, so their exposure is limited.

February 22, 2007, 09:14 PM
I dont shoot inside my basement everyday, just sighted in a scope on a rifle and handgun, and thats it. I never missed the box, and if I would have, there was plenty o stuff behind it, to keep the bullet off the concreat wall. I'm glad youall are so concerned for my health, and I dont shoot downstairs any more. But an indoors shooting range, with a steel back stop, and lead exploding off of it, is way more hazzardous to your health than the 50 or so rounds that were contained in a box full of magazines, in my basement.

February 23, 2007, 06:53 AM
JDG, the bulk of airborne lead is NOT from the bullet impacting the backstop. The bulk of airborne lead comes from 1) the primer compound and 2) the base of the bullet being exposed to the combustion of the powder, which vaporizes a small amount of lead.

Furthermore, there is always unburnt powder residue expelled from the gun during firing. Go to any range, sweep up a bit of the floor, take it outside in a metal dust pan. Carefully drop a match into the dust pan -- whoosh! You'll get a big flame. Do you really want to spread highly flammable unburnt powder around your basement?

Regarding the health effects, when was the last time you had a blood lead level test? Your primary care doctor can do one for about $20.

February 23, 2007, 12:28 PM
JDG, if you have children in the house I plead for you to stop doing this NOW!
If you have kids in the house, not just the basement, they WILL have lead (and other chemical) related exposure health effects. Adults too. Even very low levels of exposure can result in cancer, reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, and kidney damage. At high levels of exposure, a child may become mentally retarded, fall into a coma, ect.... It takes a significantly greater level of exposure to lead for adults than it does for kids to sustain adverse health effects. You may think there's not much but most clinical symptoms of lead poisoning begin at only around 100 ppb and the effect on children's IQ has been noted at very low levels.

If I were you I'd not let my children in the basement ever again, I'd wear shoes in the basement and take them off just before entering the main floor, I'd stop shooting in the house immediately, and I'd call the state to find out who could professionally come out to the house and clean it up for a decent price. I hate to be a downer, but this is just not smart.

February 23, 2007, 12:30 PM
BTW, If there are children in the house, this would probably be considered child abuse. just so you know...

February 26, 2007, 04:34 PM
What would your home owners insurance go up for having a range? I would imagine a lot and if you didn't tell them and something happened your insurance isn't going to back you up.

4V50 Gary
February 26, 2007, 06:26 PM
What Tom2 says. Use frangible, non-lead bullets. Your basement will have a lot of airborne lead that will require cleaning - especially if you have or plan to have children around. Basement ranges aren't anything new and Gil Hebard's Shooting Treasury had instructions on how to do it. I never did because of the airborne lead. In all fairness, when it was written, awareness of lead poisoning, other than firearm infused lead, wasn't all that high. Modernly, now that we know better, we have to take precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones. BTW, in an earlier job-incarnation as a rangemaster my lead was a bit high and we were using outdoor ranges. I had to stop shooting for a while until it dropped to acceptable levels.

Smokin Joe
February 26, 2007, 07:32 PM

indoor range I went to last time got this million dollar vent system. it was awesome, constantly a breeze of clean air comes from behind and goes downrange. the smoke from the shots floats downrange.

sure it isnt as safe as not shooting at all, but it is very good.

you got that in YOUR basement ?

Bill DeShivs
February 26, 2007, 10:06 PM
Lead exposure is not a good thing, but the minute amounts ingested in a home range will probably be insignificant. Good ventilation (an intake and an exhaust fan) should be used. Any unburnt powder can be simply swept/vacuumed up. Common sense and caution should prevail, but some of you young people take it too far. The lead exposure would be far less than a coat of lead based paint (which, BTW, won't hurt you unless you eat it.)

James K
February 26, 2007, 11:23 PM
Lead and fumes can't be confined to the basement because most home HVAC systems distribute air through the house, using a furnace fan. So, IMHO, an indoor range is out except for air/CO2 guns.

Bill, lead based paint is not floating in the air, so I don't think that is a real good comparison. I recently lost a good friend to a whole bunch of diseases, mainly lead poisoning brought on by years of casting bullets and reloading in his unventilated basement, so I don't take lead dangers lightly.


February 27, 2007, 01:07 PM
Bill, lead based paint is not floating in the air, so I don't think that is a real good comparison.+1

Lead-based paint is not a danger if it is in good shape (that is, not peeling and not being eaten). Airborne lead from ammunition is an entirely different beast. The mall particles are airborne and breathed into your lungs. The particles can also get on your face and hands, and thus get ingested when you eat or drink.

The next time you go to an indoor range with poor ventilation, when you are finished and leave the range, blow your nose into a white tissue. See all that black stuff on the tissue? That's powder residue that contains lead.

Frangible, non-toxic ammunition eliminates the lead problem (note, however, that it does have many other heavy-metal compounds, so I'm always worried about the "unintended consequences" -- google MTBE for a typical example). However, it does not address the fire hazard of unburnt powder.

February 28, 2007, 11:13 AM
so u mean u cant fire guns with out knowing ur being poisoned? isnt there a way around it?

February 28, 2007, 04:52 PM
so u mean u cant fire guns with out knowing ur being poisoned? Goodness gracious.

You can can fire guns without knowing a lot of things (like spelling and punctuation). You can also poison yourself in many ways (not using guns) without knowing it. I'm guessing, however, that what you wrote is not what you intended to ask. I suggest you reread my posts in this thread.

1) There is a difference between being exposed to some lead and being "poisoned." Many, many compounds are "poisonous" at high exposure levels, but innocuous at low exposure levels.

2) There is a difference between a well-designed, well-ventilated indoor range and a poor one.

3) You would not want to let your child play on the floor of an indoor range, particularly downrange of the firing line.

4) Most airborne lead at shooting ranges comes from two things: a) if the base of the bullet is exposed lead, then a small portion of the base is vaporized when the round is fired, and b) lead compounds in the primer that vaporize when the primer is discharged.

5) You can reduce the amount of airborne lead by using bullets that have a jacket covering the base, like JHP, TMJ, or plated bullets. Note that FMJ bullets are NOT jacketed on the base.

6) Frangible, non-toxic rounds do not have lead in bullet or in the primer, so they do not contribute to airborne lead. However, they are significantly more expensive than rounds containing lead.

7) Any decent NRA safety course will cover standard hygiene recommendations that will help reduce your exposure.

8) The NSSF has monographs on this subject.

9) Your exposure to airborne lead is generally less at outdoor ranges than indoor ranges.

Smokin Joe
March 1, 2007, 10:08 AM
9) Your exposure to airborne lead is generally less at outdoor ranges than indoor ranges.

I think generally depends on which way the wind is blowing. :rolleyes:

March 1, 2007, 07:02 PM
I think generally depends on which way the wind is blowing.Yup. You can also get some exposure to lead on an outdoor range if you don't wash your hands and face when you're done.

March 1, 2007, 10:37 PM
Well first to rain on the nay sayers parade,

I am a building contractor, I have built several indoor ranges for customers, ranging from a single lane, to a full 25 yard range with caswell target machines and six lanes.

We hired several environmental engineers and also had county health people involved. At the first range it was just a single exhaust fan at the target end, pulling air from the home and exhausting it out doors. At the rate of fire, percentage of use, and time not used, the county had no problem with just exhausting it to the air outside. Even at the end of a fairly long session, with hard cast lead bullets being shot, and the fan running at full speed, the air being exhausted had hardly detectable levels of lead. It barely made the meter tick over. air samples were well well below legal limit.

Furnaces do not pull air in at that lowest level usually, that is done from the cold air returns in the upper levels of the home, after our shooting test, the furnace air filters had no detectable levels of lead. none.

we had painted the floor to seal it with a semi gloss enamel and the residue that was swept up had very very little lead levels. tiny amounts.

Damp mopping reduced the levels present on the floor to ambient. that is, what would normally be on the floor of anyones house just from everyday living.

The statement that all that residue from your shooting would be extremely flammable is possible, provided that you never ever swept up or mopped your floor. That bit of unburned powder on the floor of a shooting range is the result of thousand and thousands of rounds being fired, at none of the ranges we have built has it ever been an issue.

The six lane range was built in the home of a Pro Bowl football player who had a very complete air sampling done after it was in use as he had youngsters in the home, from 1 to 5 years in age, the exact age that is so susceptible to bloodPb. He spared no expense, or rather his SO spared no expense and although the levels were never high enough even with 4 guys shooting (with the exhaust system running) they did register, so that it was decided the kids were not allowed in the range. after age 12, the effects of lead on the system are greatly reduced, and proper management can really reduce the lead in the body. This can be readily googled up but the right drinks can leach almost all the lead out.

SOOOOO paint the floor, mop up after you shoot, but wait a bit for airborne to settle out, and run a fan to pull "dirty" air out, if you have cold air return vents on your furnace in the basement, tape them shut when shooting; you should be fine.

March 2, 2007, 09:39 AM

Now I know who to call when I win the lottery and build an indoor range....

Thanks for the input!!

Smokin Joe
March 2, 2007, 02:48 PM
Well first to rain on the nay sayers parade,

that is FAR from the shoot into cardboard box basement range the OP made.. hahahah...

March 2, 2007, 04:06 PM
guntotin fool, Thanks for not beating me up, and for offering somthing more than just an opinion. Funny, I just bought a gun yesterday from a guy that shoots in a 22 rifle league, and he made mention that he plinks in his basement, every once in awhile. Go figure:D

July 28, 2009, 06:00 AM
Venting the basement can cause other risks such as radon issues. I do commercial radon consulting. Active and passive venting of a basement increases the amount of radon in the system, drawn into the basement from the substrate. I tested my basement for radon before I put in my basement shooting range. Exposure to airborne lead is highest in Central and South America, Middle East, Africa, Far East and Oceana due to use of leaded gasoline. Common sensitive tests can reveal your body lead content accurately.

July 28, 2009, 10:55 AM
Common sensitive tests can reveal your body lead content accurately.
The test is inexpensive. Your general practitioner can draw the blood. Call ahead, however, and remind them that the lead test requires a particular vial, one which they likely do not stock and will have to order.

July 28, 2009, 05:30 PM
When I worked at an Indoor Range in the middle 90's, we all got tested for lead exposure every 6 months. Anyone over limits (none were) would be off of Range/Teaching/Shooting duty. Yes, you can absorb lots of stuff at some ranges. Vents for the dirty air are the first order, followed by Positive air pressure to vent the excess. That is why the vent systems cost so much. In a home basement, I don't think so.

July 31, 2009, 07:15 AM
guntotin fool

What do you charge for a level II hazmat clean-up????

You know, asbestos or lead???