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Three types of risk that are especially important to indoor shooting ranges;  State and Local Regulations, Community and Neighbor Relations, and Range Fire Prevention

Q. Which states are the most active regulators?
A. They tend to be on the West Coast.  Washington has its own Department of Labor & Industries and requires mandatory blood testing for range employees.  California has its own state versions of OSHA and EPA as well as the state Department of Health.  The state has been known to swoop in on a range to enforce regulations.  Oregon and Michigan are also very active.

Carey's Answers: Book #5

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. Who is driving this state rule making?

A. . Much of the impetus comes from work by Dr. Michael Kosnett, professor at University of Colorado School of Medicine.  He advocates sharply reducing the allowable level of lead exposure.  California and Washington have introduced new legislation requiring lead testing as a result of this effort.

Q. How do state regulations relate to city and county regulations?

Cities and counties vary widely in their approach, and there are cases where local regs are in conflict with state regs.  State authorities generally will not actually close down a range as long as the owners cooperate to correct problems.  Local enforcement, on the other hand, can be onerous and is sometimes intended to shut down the range.  Contact your city or township for information on local ordinances.

Q. Do I have any protections from arbitrary and inconsistent local regulations?

A. In some cases, yes.  Thankfully, an increasing number of states are passing range protection legislation that supersedes local laws.  Wisconsin recently passed such a bill, sponsored by Governor George Walker.  Maine and Minnesota have also recently passed protection bills. 

Q. How can I identify the state and local regulations that apply to my location?
A. NSSF maintains a database that tracks relevant state legislation.  Go to and click on Government Relations section, Legislative Action Center, State Legislation.

Tacky Mats

Q.How can I be sure my rules to assure compliance are being followed by my staff?
A. Never be lulled into complacency.  Each employee must understand and be fully trained

in policies and procedures and know how important it is to follow them.  Put them in writing

and post them prominently at your shop.  Review them at your quarterly staff meetings.

  If you have a designated compliance officer, be sure there is a knowledge transfer plan if

he/she leaves your company.

Q.How helpful is good old-fashioned community relations?

A. Very.  Your local law enforcement authorities need a place to shoot … get on their good side

and invite them to your range.  Also reach out to shooting clubs in your vicinity.  Perhaps join

the local Chamber of Commerce and volunteer to speak at one of the meetings about your

business and its positive impact on the community … jobs created, projected tax revenue, etc. 

For more information, consider purchasing the NSSF Guide to Community Relations, available


Q. What is the best way to make friends with my neighbors?

A. Your Grand Opening or Ribbon Cutting is a great opportunity to reach out to community and neighbors and perhaps offer them some free shooting time.  Put your best foot forward!  The only exception is if there is already an adversarial relationship and/or hostile attitude within the surrounding community.  In this case, your hospitality could backfire as opponents use this as an opportunity to gather material to use against you.

Q. What is the leading cause of neighbor complaints?

A. The quick answer is, noise.   Make sure gunfire is barely audible at your property line.  The amount of allowable sound may vary depending on whether your neighbors are commercial/industrial or residential; and whether your range is built on a hill causing sound to carry.  Vets with PTSD are especially sensitive to anything that sounds like gunfire.  If your range is making noise that neighbors can hear, read on …

Q. I have an external noise problem.  How can I address this?

A.  Each situation varies.  We have seen cases where two concrete walls separated by an airspace have reduced sound transmission.  We’ve also seen cases where an insulated ceiling above the baffles is needed to reduce the sound transmission out of the building through the roof. Feel free to contact Carey’s.  We’ll be happy to refer you to a qualified architect and/or acoustical consultant in your area who can make specific recommendations.

Q. How can I protect my reputation in the face of a negative post on social media?

A.  The best defense against an occasional negative review is to drown it out in an ongoing drumbeat of positive buzz.

  • Every time a customer has a positive experience at your range, encourage them to share it with others via Google, Facebook, Yelp and other social media.

  • If someone does say something negative, write a response that addresses the issue in a diplomatic way and encourage readers of the message to contact you if they have concerns.

Q. How do range fires get started?

A. Fires start when something hot or incendiary hits a flammable material, and finds sufficient combustibles and oxygen to spread.  Turn the page to learn how you can prevent and retard fires and explosions at your indoor shooting range…

Q. We’re planning to build a new range.  What fire safety guidelines should we follow?

A. Most of the structure is concrete and steel which do not pose a fire hazard.  Not so drywall and soundproofing material.  Non-retardant acoustic foam on the ceiling can cause a very hot fire that can engulf the entire range in 10 seconds or less.  Make sure all drywall and soundproofing is rated as flame-retardant.  And, be careful about building a wall on top of a crevice in the floor.  This can become a place where flammable dust accumulates.

What can I do to prevent an electrical fire?

A. Short circuits in lighting or other electrical components can cause a spark that starts a fire.  Here are three steps to prevent this from happening:

  • Keep electrical gear and wire connections snugged and tight to avoid danger of short circuit.  Check and tighten them at least annually, since wires will loosen over time as they heat up and cool down due to variations in current.

  • Don't allow Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to overheat.  Burn marks on the inside of a VFD are a sure sign that it is overheating.  

  • Keep anything flammable away from electrical components.  This prevents a small fire from becoming catastrophic.

What regular maintenance is recommended to prevent range fires?

A. We talked to our partners at Best Technology Systems and Metals Treatment Technologies, both of whom provide range maintenance services.  They suggest following these fire-preventive range maintenance practices:

  • Regularly remove flammable debris such as used targets, wood, and shotgun wads.

  • Employ dust reduction measures such as regular HEPA vacuuming, duct servicing, and filter changes.

  • Perform regular berm/trap maintenance, preferably by a service provider that reduces the amount of fine materials within the berm/trap.

  • Keep debris from accumulating in the bullet trap.

Q. What else can be done to keep unspent gunpowder from accumulating?

A. Some ranges built in the '70's and '80's have a drainpipe built into the floor that had formerly been used to empty waste into the sewer system.  Plug this up.  Otherwise, material can accumulate there that will explode like a bomb! 

Q. Can shooters start range fires?              

A. Yes, if they use incendiary ammo.   Prohibit anyone from firing

tracers (that usually have red tips) or anything with a spark or

flame into the range.   

Q. How can I make sure bullet traps are safe?             

A. Make sure all Dust Collection Units use HEPA filters or are ducted

outside and do not discharge to the range. (Note: Carey’s recommends

the use of HEPA filters on all dust collection units discharging both

indoors and outdoors.)  If using rubber berms, be sure to use fire

retardants, per the manufacturer's specifications.


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


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