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Are you planning to build a new gun range or expand an existing one?  This book will help get you off to a good start.  Your first step is to recruit the best team to guide your project – including a well-qualified Architect and General Contractor.  Once the team is together, your next step is to design a range configuration that will best meet the needs of the customers you’re seeking to serve.very active.

Carey's Answers: Book #6


The experts are unequivocal
on the subject!







National Shooting Sports Foundation:

“All air being exhausted from the range should be passed through a High Efficiency Particulate Filter (HEPA) or equivalent to insure that state or federal regulations for airborne lead are not violated.”



National Air Filtration Association: “Exhaust or re-circulated air must be filtered at the point of removal with a minimum of 99.97% High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, per the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST) recommended practice. All HEPA filters should be accompanied by a letter of certification or a label documenting that each filter has met the test requirements.”

Q. What is the best way to choose an architect or range design firm?

A. Talk to other range owners, perhaps someone you met at the NRA’s Range Development and Operations Conference or at the NSSF Shot Show.  Ask who they worked with on their project and whether they were pleased with the results. 


Q. What other steps can I take to confirm I’m working with a qualified firm?

A. Make sure the architect you hire has gun range design experience.  If you’re working with someone from out of your area, ask them if they understand the local Building Code and any ordinances that apply.  And, check to see if the architect is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Membership in the AIA means that the architect subscribes to a professional code of ethics and has access to a variety of professional and technical resources.


Q. How can I be sure I’ll have a good working relationship with my architect?

A. Talk to them personally.  Make sure you have good rapport and feel comfortable working together, especially in the early stages of the project.  This can avoid costly rework later on.


Q. What is the best was to choose a General Contractor?

A. Again, talk to other range owners and ask who they have worked with and whether they were pleased.  Use caution with any GC that comes in significantly lower in price.  A cheap GC may be cutting corners that you will regret later.

Q. Can I be my own GC?

A. Think twice before taking the plunge!  We’ve encountered many cases where a range owner

tries to be the GC and ends up regretting it.  Owning and operating a gun range is a very different

business than managing a construction project!  Ask yourself –

  • Do you have practical experience in commercial construction?

  • Do you know how to identify and hire skilled tradesmen .

  • Are you a strong team leader and manager?

  • Are you comfortable with PERT charts and related project management tools?

  • Do you have the necessary liability insurance?

  • Are you able to devote full time to the project?

Visit for some relevant advice

Q. When should I bring Carey’s into the planning process?

A. Right from Day One!  We’ll be glad to make recommendations of qualified Architects, Design Firms, and General Contractors with whom we have a good working relationship.  Let us take the guesswork out of this for you.

Q. How can range design help me reach the market I plan to serve?

A. Select the design that best matches your customers and their interests.  Hunters?  Competitive target shooters?  Families?  Law enforcement?  All have different priorities.  The best lane width, length, and lighting are all things that shooters look for when selecting an indoor range.  Here are some things to discuss with your architect when doing your floorplan…

Q. How large a range will my market support?

A. If you’re repurposing an existing space, you may be constrained in

the number of lanes that space will allow.  If you’re building or adding

a new structure, you’ve got greater flexibility.  As a point of departure,

consider a 12-lane range for a typical market.  This is the industry

average based on NSSF data.  If you serve a large area with limited

competition, a larger, 18-lane configuration may be an option. 

HINT: Is there a bowling alley in your neighborhood?  If so, check its

size as a clue to the number of lanes that your demographics will

support.  Shooting is becoming a family-oriented sport, as bowling has

traditionally been.

Q. How wide should the lanes be?

A. Four feet is a comfortable width and is considered the industry

standard.  Narrower lanes may make it difficult for two or more people

to use, for example a student and instructor.  Keep in mind that the

larger the lane width, the more the installation cost will increase for

baffles, traps and ventilation. There is also an ongoing increase in the

operation cost with wider lanes. The power and gas pricing will increase

with larger lanes for the operation of the Range Ventilation System. We

have seen 3’ wide, 3’ 6” wide and 4’ lanes used in typical commercial

ranges. There are a couple of ranges with wider lanes – but with the

increased operation cost – we do not recommend this approach.

Q. What is the optimal length (shooting distance) for your range?

This depends on the type of shooter you’ll serve.  As a general rule, make it longer for hunters, shorter for law enforcement & self-defense.  Longer ranges allow greater flexibility to create tactical scenarios.

▶ 25 yards (75 feet) is a typical length for the shooting lane, and is considered the minimum to allow rifle shooting.

▶ Most of the shooting we have observed is 7 yards and closer in the ranges. Consider a shorter range bay for some savings in both building and ballistic costs. 

  • At the other extreme, we know of one successful gun range with lanes just over 100 yards.

Q. What are the advantages of having multiple bays?              

A. Look at the total lanes you will have in your facility. We have found that 8-10 lanes have the best price per lane pricing for ventilation. You should look at the initial cost of the systems and potential savings of multiple bays and the savings of running smaller systems during slower periods. You need to look at your return on investment and also think about how multiple bays with individual system will give you redundancy when you eventually have equipment service issues.

Q. How are range owners using special bays?              

A. Multiple bays allow you to set up tactical (dynamic) scenarios in one bay, while keeping another bay open for regular shooting.  This provides flexibility to serve the needs of various types of shooters – basic target practice for hunters and most recreational shooters, and live action simulations for law enforcement and military.

Q. How can I enhance my range’s appeal with effective lighting?

A. Make sure your architect understands the importance of lighting for your customers.  Good lighting can set you apart in a competitive market.  Downrange lighting must be even and consistent to avoid dark spots.  For tactical training, consider lighting that can be adjusted to simulate daylight and low light situations.

  • Besides fluorescent lighting, consider using standard floodlights on a dimmer switch to adjust light levels.  You can turn off your regular lighting and adjust the level of light for low-light training or completely dark training.

New LED lighting is available that will provide not only very good lighting and control but reduced energy usage in your range.

Mind the details (that are frequently overlooked)


Innovative Range Features Shooting Gallery


Lee Richeson had always wanted to practice shooting in a gallery … the kind he remembered seeing decades ago at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.  So, he recently added a 4-lane shooting gallery to the existing 5-lane live fire range at Rich's Gun Shop in Donald, OR.  To his knowledge, this is the only live shooting gallery like it anywhere in the world.


Lee’s mission is to bring this concept back to the public’s attention.  “It’s an extremely successful platform for learning to shoot”, Lee says.  “The fun that families have is like nothing I had ever envisioned it being!  Teenagers come out of their shell … little kids learn how to shoot and avoid the frustration of a live fire range … World War II vets in wheelchairs have tears in their eyes as this brings back memories of the galleries they knew from a bygone era.”


This has been a home-grown project.  “It’s our own design.  We looked at ads for old galleries for travelling shows that we found in 100-year-old catalogs.  We took the elements that we liked.”

Q. How can I design for easy maintenance?

A. It’s important to incorporate doors that are large enough for a forklift to enter.  This will make it easy to clean the trap.  And be sure to provide access to filters.  Filter replacement should be easy to do so you’re not tempted to put it off.


Q. How can I avoid the need to rework during the project?

A. Make sure drawings are clear and correct and are communicated to all staff.  Especially watch for terminations of power conduits, gas lines, and control box location.  This is your GC’s responsibility but it never hurts to glance over his shoulder.


Q. What if I plan to conduct tactical training?

A. For tactical training, consider ballistic doors designed to allow vehicles to enter the range for training scenarios.


Q. What steps should I include on my construction checklist?

A. Make sure your General Contractor and Electrician perform the following steps before work begins on Range Ventilation:

  • General Contractor to seal the entire envelope of the range air-tight (doors, walls, windows, etc.) 

  • GC to provide all wall penetrations and roof penetrations

  • GC to provide lay-in ceiling between diffusers and safety ceiling

  • GC to provide gas piping to MAUs

  • GC to provide condensate drain piping from MAUs to drain if applicable

  • Electrical contractor to provide disconnects for all equipment including VFDs

  • EC to provide all controls conduit

  • EC to provide 120v 20a to DDC panel

  • EC to provide internet cable and connection to DDC panel

  • EC to provide 120v 20a to MAU-1 control section

Q. What further reading is recommended?

A. See article by Carey’s president Bill Provencher at

Q. Any more questions?
A. Call Carey’s today at (708) 532-2449 for a free consultation.


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