View Full Version : What would you put in the ideal interior range?

October 17, 1999, 07:43 PM
I am contemplating opening a range in an area which does not have anything available for 50 miles in any direction. The population base is about 600,000.

I have never done anything even remotely like this, and confess to ignorance on almost all aspects of it -- all but the fact that I believe a market exists for it.

I have done some preliminary clicking around the net, but mostly have found vendors of individual products. What I need is an overall design and the specifications for performance.

I would want to make it big enough to handle Olympic shooting, which I assume requires at least 10mm of shooting distance. I would want it also to have some seating for people waiting or watching matches.

I would plan to sell ammo and accessories but not firearms--maybe air guns and rifles. I would permit instructions and sponsor matches. I would probably sell reloading materials also.

The thought is to set up different marketing approaches -- one night for bullseye, a ladies night, kids day or night, airguns only night, and other "specialty" niches.

I know the sky is the limit dollars wise. But from a feature point of view, what would you most want to have in a range. Priority items first.

Anybody know of a good accounting package for this kind of business??

Thanks for any input.

October 18, 1999, 08:28 AM
First off, is this going to be an indoor or outdoor range? Indoors ranges require air filtration, following EPA regs on pollution, insurance, equipment costs (Caswell is the big name in bullet traps), construction costs (complete reinforced concrete construction - including ceilings), zoning regulations, financing, different types of licensing (depending on what local, regional, state requires), building security (you will get broken into), more insurance etc. Outdoor ranges require most of the above plus possibly variances for noise pollution, sizing of berms and walls, lighting for evenings, etc.
Are you going to allow rifle (or anything over 2000 fps?), full auto? Will local authorities allow rapid fire or slow fire only?
Allowing LEAs/security agencies to practice and/or qualify free or at reduced rates may help some.
You might want to contact Rich, the site administrator, as he just went through trying to buy a facility. he could probably give you a few better pointers.

October 18, 1999, 08:43 AM
You might want to contact the NRA also. I believe they offer consultation services for establishing ranges.

October 18, 1999, 08:48 AM
Most important: Just get it open!!! Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake.

You'd be surprised at what some of us have to go through, just to find a place to shoot.

Good Luck...



George Hill
October 19, 1999, 12:30 AM
One thing for a range - is good solid target stands - or a nice target return system. I like the ones that dont have the preset distancess. A good BROOM is also important for a range. every been to an indoor range that was an inch deep in brass no broom to clear a place to stand? Aarrgghh - I hate that! Ventalation is vital - but so is a heater. Some Ranges take the ventalation thing a little too far. I have been in one I remember - it was colder inside than it was outside. And in JANUARY - thats not a good thing.

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud

October 19, 1999, 02:05 AM
I strongly recommend compartmentalizing the range by having a wall extending downrange between each group of 3 or 4 firing points.

3 feet on centers for firing points. 4 feet is better, but you start getting range stall depth/control problems.

Target carriers are a must. I've NEVER liked the motorized units. You can do the preset distances either by having detents in the overhead rail/wire, or by just marking the rope. Manual hand-crank carriers are quieter, don't shake the stalls, and are cheaper to fix.

Bulletproof dividers between shooting stalls are pretty much mandatory these days.

Lighting bays in front of each common shooting distance is nice. A full 25 yards will make more customers happy.

And buy two or three racks of reactive targets--steel plates at 15+ yards, and the self-sealing thick plastic jobs for inside 15 yards (splatter hazard).

I've always wondered how a bowling pin setter would work, behind appropriate armor. Could you configure one for 5 pins at the right distance? The out of round pin reject system would be quite important...

Bruce from West Oz
October 19, 1999, 07:33 AM
We only have one commercial indoor range here, but it has grown so much in popularity with "ordinary" people and non-gunowners that they ran a special segment on it on the Channel 9 news last night. (Positive, believe it or not.)

The biggest factor here is safety. Each shooter is compartmentalised (good US word ;)) in a booth (locked in, in fact), behind a bulletproof door with a bulletproof glass insert. They are watched by patrolling range supervisors PLUS each shooter is on video to a central control room.

Targets are operated manually ("or once a year" as the Goons used to say -- before these Monty Python upstarts ;)).

Perth has a population of approx. 1.2 million -- and the range is booked solid at (I've been told) $60 for 30 minutes.

Oh, yes, --- for "first-timers" they include a compulsory safety and safe-handling session.

Apart from that, it's clean, modern, with attractive decor and the satff are well dressed and groomed -- and I think they are very important points for public and LEO acceptance of such a venture.

Have a look, too, at http://www.safeshot.com.au/shooting_ranges.htm for some ideas. I'm sure there are similar American companies.


October 19, 1999, 12:38 PM

Karanas is right. You can contact the NRA with range building help. Here's a link for the NRA Range SourceBook:

www.nrahq.org/shooting/shootingrange/rangemanual.shtml (http://www.nrahq.org/shooting/shootingrange/rangemanual.shtml)

Here's another for Shooting Range Services:

www.nrahq.org/shooting/shootingrange/development.shtml (http://www.nrahq.org/shooting/shootingrange/development.shtml)

Hope this helps!

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited October 19, 1999).]

October 19, 1999, 01:24 PM
Interim Thank You -

This is all very helpful, particularly the leads for design and planning. Would still like to hear more along the lines of a market survey:

"What-I-Always-Wanted-That-Idiot-At-The-Range-To-Offer-But-He-Was-Too-Pig-Headed-To-Listen" Stuff.

Again thanks.

Glenn E. Meyer
October 19, 1999, 03:11 PM
I don't know much about the actual
technicalties but I would suggest
that all the help are thoroughly
trained in customer service.

I saw a local range almost tank
because of bad staff. They wouldn't
break off a chat with a buddy to take
care of you, etc. etc.

Macho attitudes and condscending attitudes
to newbies are a bad thing. You get the
idea - there is more to running a customer
service business than just the gadgets.

Think about a pleasant place for families.
One Florida range put pseudo-parking signs
in front with the logo - Perverts Parking
Only - ha ha.

Staff should wear nice professional clothes
and not commando clothes.

Make items on sale - easy to see.



October 20, 1999, 09:00 AM
Comfortable ear plugs/muffs for idiots like me who routinely forget theirs before they head out.

October 21, 1999, 12:00 AM
50 miles from anywhere is to far away to bring people in to shoot. yes i know some people will drive 1/2 a day to do some serious shooting but..... not having income daily to cover ALL expense's is a loosing propersition! you need to be in an area that the passerby will see and think mmmm i should stop in to see what it's like. you do need adequate ventilation but believe it or not it is really OSHA that you have to deal with in regard's to lead disposal and air flow. the lead that is trapped at the end of the shooting bay does not constitute an enviromental hazard unless you are disposing of more than a 55gal drum monthly( i will have to check my note's on mthly or wkly) you will or may not make it if you only offer just range time. the cash is in firearm's inst. and sale's. if your state offer's ccw all the better. there are too many thing's to go into for the opening and operation of a gun range to tie up space here e-m me if you would like to know more. oh yeah the biggest and most important thing you need and MUST HAVE A LOT OF IS CASH!! pre openong expense's and operating capital. i have done extensive research into this subject and have lot's of info from city state abd federal agencies that i thought delt in this area and you would be suprised at how little in term's of gov't hoop's you have to jump thru

[This message has been edited by jimc (edited October 21, 1999).]

October 21, 1999, 08:40 AM
Call (352) 466-0320 and ask for Robin, tell him Cord sent you and want to know about indoor ranges. As someone said they are expensive. I don't recall right off hand but something like 500k or more for the bullet traps for a ten lane range. But Good Luck we need more ranges in this nation. If you need any assistance call. Gator

4V50 Gary
October 22, 1999, 12:10 AM
Check with your local law enforcement range master. Ask them what they'd like to see. Your range may be the only indoor range with a light bar. One advantage of indoor ranges is that you can control the lighting. This is important since officers are required to pratice dim light shooting. When it's summer and the sun doesn't set until 9 p.m., that's a lot of overtime that can be avoided if they book an indoor range for a day.

Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt

November 26, 1999, 09:59 AM
A liberal guest policy. The one outdoor range that is within an hour's drive, Kelbely's in Massilon Ohio, has a no guest policy. Everybody there has to wear a name tag, complete with picture, or they are subject to arrest for trespass. Yearly dues are 70 something, 100 dollars for the first year. I was a bit ticked when I joined in June, and still had to pay for an entire year, but got over it, figured high price shooting beat no shooting. I would love to take a guest like my Son and his wife, or my Niece and Nephews once in a while. I would even be willing to pay a premium for it. Kelbley's doesn't allow it though. To take my Son would mean paying full price for a memberhip for him. IMHO, this is a detriment to shooting. How are you going to promote something this way? I'm a good hearted soul, but come on, I'm not going to pop for $100. evertime somebody wants to try shooting.
The indoor range where I belong is much better( Hunter's Lodge in Tallmadge Ohio). A single membership runs $150, and a family membership runs $175 a year. Guests pay a flat $5 for unlimited time, provided they share my lane. A new indoor range just opened that is a 10 min drive from me. They charge $175 a year for membership, $10 a half hour for non-members, no family membership meaning my wife has to get her own, and guests don't get a break. I'm willing to pay for ammo and furnish a gun, to introduce a new shooter, but there is no excuse for some of these fees these ranges charge.

CCW for Ohio action site.
Do what you C.A.N.


George Hill
November 29, 1999, 01:17 AM
Decent vending machines...
I got ripped off a buck on one today.
Made me want to use the machine for my back stop.

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud
Hey, have I mentioned my new book? It is called:

November 29, 1999, 05:58 AM
re:Theft by Machine
The real question here is would you go for a quick kill on the offending machine with a full auto ot shotgun, or draw the experience out with something smaller? ;)

November 30, 1999, 12:41 AM
Coat racks...

Anyone worth shooting, is worth shooting twice...

George Hill
November 30, 1999, 03:26 AM
Surgical hits with a FMJ 9mm... Out of a P210 so I know exactly where the rounds will penetrate.

Hits in the right places will insure the machine will be rendered beyond repair and it will not be reanimated to haunt us again.

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud
Hey, have I mentioned my new book? It is called:

December 1, 1999, 02:23 AM
I suggest you look at the Action Target systems (Provo, Utah) for not only reactive targets, but also bullet traps that are better than Caswell's.

You gotta have reactive targets. Paper holds only so much of a thill, then thrills no more.

Jake 98c/11b
December 3, 1999, 01:05 AM
Other sources, there is a national range owners association, they can help a lot. I can get you contact info but you will have to wait a few days, I will be traveling a few days but I will try to get it when I'm back in town. Detroit Armour can provide bullet traps so can Savage Range Systems and a company called Supertrap (might be atrade name). Reactive targets are a must, hell of a lot of fun and it keeps up interest. An interactive range system can be a great investment I cant think who makes them off hand but I will look into that as well. Liberal guest policy is another must have. I would suggest an open door policy of sorts. Range fee for all but a yearly range pass to be sold to regulars. Kids must be allowed to shoot for free, they are the future of shooting sports. Ladies night, no fee for women, would be wise. Women make up the fastest growing segment of the gun buying public and politicians pander to that voting block. Target carriers, motor driven units are probably best even with their problems. If you use a hand crank where do you put the crank? low by the shooting bench in the way or high enough for a wheelchair bound customer to struggle with, what about the old arthritic lady learning to shoot for protection can she comfortably crank the carrier back and forth for an hour? If you build a range another must is a competent, qualified instructor staff, teaching can make or break your reputation. The same goes to the store staff, Glenn has a strong point about that. All staff need to be comfortable explaining the operation of all common firearms, technical expertise goes a long way. Most manufacturers have armorers programs, make use of their training. Our moderator has a good point about keeping the brass from being underfoot (range must be kept clean) the range he and I used to shoot at used plastic snow shovels to push brass and it worked nicely. Cheapo has some good ideas about things, the only thing he said I disagree with is the dividing wall every 3 or 4 lanes. That would complicate the ventilation problem, make your range look closed and cluttered, make cleanup harder and give your customers more walls to shoot up. It would also close off some opportunitys to you. With an open range area you can run IPSC or IDPA style matches indoors. Create opportunitys like matches to bring shooters together. Be visible and accessable. Being on a major road will be more expensive but will bring far more traffic, by being seen daily you will be a constant reminder to local shooters. Rental guns, you need lots of rentals available. With a wall full of 80+ guns available to rent you will increase your buisness substantialy, everyone wants to try something new. Most manufacturers offer SUBSTANTIAL discounts to ranges for range use guns and they usually allow you to replace them yearly and you can sell the old ones for a good profit. A few full auto guns for rent will pay for themselves in short order. I would suggest allowing only your ammunition on the range for two reasons, liability and profit. If someone blows up a gun on your range and someone is hurt you are liable and lets face facts this needs to make money or you wont be there long. That is all that I can think of now, I guess that should get things going for a while.

George Hill
December 3, 1999, 03:41 AM
Hey Jake - That Range we used to go to - did they ever put in the interactive systems they were talking about?
There are a couple here in Utah - and your right... They do keep the interest up. They also make a good base for a weekly match.

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud
Hey - have you seen the new Ultimate Super Tactical Match Gun?

Glenn E. Meyer
December 4, 1999, 12:03 AM
Cooks near Austin is a nice range and used
to have a CD-ROM shooting lane. You could
choose scenarios and difficulty level.

I thought it was pretty neat but the owners
ditched it. They told me people didn't use
it and they could make more money with
plain old paper punching.

I wonder why? I liked the challenge.

I speculate that people didn't like losing
and looking silly when they shot Grandman
or got blasted by a bad guy.

Oh, well - I liked it.


Jake 98c/11b
December 7, 1999, 09:29 PM
George as I understand it those guys are goung to put the interactive unit in their new range. I am waiting for it personally, how else can I practice moving targets without the help of two or three other guys and advance planning. I went to northern Va. to shoot this system with the owner of the range in Richmond and I can see where it would not be for everyone (most won't shoot well enough) but I loved it. I agree that it would be great for weekly matches, do they do that in your area?

George Hill
December 8, 1999, 03:03 AM
There is one place in Springville that has one. Rangemasters of Utah...
I will be going down there and checking it out soon as this holiday chaos is over.
There are a couple other ranges that have moving poppers - but not the FATTS like live fire system.

You could goto the arcade and try your hand at HOUSE of THE DEAD or AREA 51 with your 9mm - but it only works for the first shot. Go Figure.

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud
Hey - have you seen the new Ultimate Super Tactical Match Gun?