What does it take to open a public range?


walking arsenal
April 30, 2011, 12:52 PM
I'm curious. There is a serious lack of gun ranges in my state. Is it because they are hard to open? Is insuring them expensive? Are they not profitable?
You'd think a small range that sells range time and ammo would do ok, especially around fall if it's heated.


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April 30, 2011, 01:35 PM
A lot of time money and research, don't mean to be impolite, but every state county and town is different, You should start by going to your local city municipal building and asking if there is even zoning for a range available and where it is. Then how many different licenses you will need and the costs of the materials neded to be in compliance with state local and govt "if any" regulations. It's not going to be a one page answer. Prepare to do your research, and then you may find that unless you had an outdoor range , it would be too expensive, unless you added a gun store to subsidise your income, it's a big deal.

April 30, 2011, 03:55 PM
Even with an outdoor range, unless it is a private club, the upkeep and insurance will be very expensive. Even the club range where I shoot has trouble with supposed members vandalizing target stands, tables, trash barrels, porta-johns etc. People just have no respect for others property, even under threat of prosecution.

April 30, 2011, 04:06 PM
Money. Lots of it.

April 30, 2011, 04:45 PM
Indoors? Your ventilation system is about $500,000 - $1,000,000, let alone insurance and that's assuming your local zoning folks even allow it

walking arsenal
April 30, 2011, 05:58 PM
Why do you need to insure it? Can you not just have members sign a waiver saying they assume liability?

Resist Evil
April 30, 2011, 06:39 PM
You could take a look at this site (http://www.nssf.org/ranges/?CFID=4755495&CFTOKEN=86038366&jsessionid=8430cd184f9f34595f6aa6e54646277f135e) I found from National Shooting Sports Foundation.

April 30, 2011, 06:48 PM
You must deal with OSHA because lead vapers expelled when bullet impacts backstop

April 30, 2011, 06:54 PM
and for the same lead reasons you will need to worry about the EPA as well.

Kendal Black
April 30, 2011, 07:00 PM
The NRA has a Range Services division. http://www.nrahq.org/shootingrange/ They get involved in range development and so forth. You might find some things of interest on their page.

April 30, 2011, 07:21 PM
Waivers don't mean squat, you will get sued if something happens..............

April 30, 2011, 07:54 PM
Why do you need to insure it? Can you not just have members sign a waiver saying they assume liability?

So if your roof caves in and falls on me I assume the liability? You let someone shoots his rhino roller reloads at your range, his gun explodes, I get injured, he owns squat and makes minimum wage guess who's pockets I'm going into. As oneounce said waivers don't mean much. You have to held responsible for most anything that goes on at your range.

April 30, 2011, 10:30 PM
Land, money, the patience of Job, insurance...lots of it, and some darn good people working for you.

Think it through well before you take the leap.....the term "public" means just about anyone with the price of admission. Add that to guns, ammo, and you might have second thoughts.

I'm on the board of a private club. We pay really pricy insurance fees and screen carefully all the aplicants. You gotta walk a thin line in these types of endeavors.

April 30, 2011, 11:07 PM
What do you need to open a range? Time and Money, lots of both and a lot of patience.

First thing is to find out what the local LEO's use to qualify. (both county and town) If they have to drive a considerable distance to qualify you MAY find some support there. If they they have a range try get in with them so you can use their range.

So, let's say you decide you should open a range and the local LEO's are going to help.

First you find an appropreate site and get an option to purchase, then you will most likely run into zoning problems... After you have the zoning to allow a range, then you will probably have to do an Environmental Impact Statement. Everyone and his brother will make comments and complain if all the "I"s are not dotted, and "T"s crossed to their liking. (I am not talking just anti's here) The biggest ones will be noise and traffic. A properly designed range will not have neighborhood noise problems...but it is expensive,,,,

Then if your range is totally indoors, there is ventillation, then lead control, then noise again. If the range is all or partly outside, the big one will be noise and stray bullet control.

I saw (and used) a range in Germany that I really liked the design. I thought the same as you, what a great idea, build one in (or in my case, just outside) my local town. Restaurant, gun smith, gun shop, kid's daycare/play area. Seperate sections for air rifle/pistol, another area for small caliber pistols and 22 rifle, then large pistols (all indoors) and then several long distance (up to 500 meters) firing points for large caliber rifle...firing point benches indoors and targets outdoors, bermed and baffled so the noise did not bother the neighbors... oh yes, and seperate all outdoor, trap and skeet ranges. This was on about 700 acres of land, well out of town.

In my case the land wasn't much of a problem. It was still fairly inexpensive in the early 70's, but the time and developement money was. After spending $1,500 on engineering and permits, I decided it wasn't practical for me. (this would be liek spending about $15k to $20k today)

Big key if you try it...get an option to purchase at a specific price for the land you want to try do this on, it will cost you a small amount, but the option will keep you from having a lot of money tied up when you find you can't get the zoning changed so some other roadblock.

walking arsenal
May 1, 2011, 12:36 AM
Interesting. Well I guess that explains why shooting sports are dying in this state. The young guys have no place to go shoot unless they join the army.

The reason that I ask is that I talked to a young man recently who had $1500.00 tied up in an airsoft rifle and accessories.

I asked him why on earth he would spend that kind of money on a toy and not on the real thing?

He simply shrugged and said "Where would I shoot it?"

I guess lawyers will kill anything with litigation these days.

May 1, 2011, 01:25 AM
I'm not sure about range insurance, but in NC you need $1,000,000 in insurance to teach CCH classes. There is an exception if the location where you teach will cover you with their insurance.

So, I'm sure you need over a million in insurance.

May 1, 2011, 06:40 AM
Funny - I read the original post differently than everyone else. I read it as "how do I get the government to fund, open, and keep open a public range?" Obviously, an outdoor range will be easier.

Hardest way is a ballot iniative (seems like it would be the easiest way, but the established politicans don't like being pushed around and will sabotage it).

If the demand in your area is enough that the range would be busy, you might have enough voters interested to catch a politician's ear. If your local government already has land somewhere that would work, great. If not, you'd want to meet the right people and wait until the government forecloses on property for nonpayment of taxes (county or state). The county will usually have the option of paying the state tax and keeping the land for itself rather than putting it up for auction.

For example, is there a covered landfill that can't be used for anything? You might be able to shoot over that land, and it may not be close to anybody who would complain about the noise.

If political will is behind doing something, the red tape dissolves. County and state governments also have a magical ability to lower costs by waiving / intrepetating away regulations and requirements they don't like.

walking arsenal
May 1, 2011, 09:58 AM
We've been trying to open a county owned range up here for years but it keeps getting shut down by the hippies because the county wants to attach an ATV club to it to make it more profitable. The hippies think the ATV riders tear up the trails and they are correct. Unfortunately that's what is holding our range down.

A private range that's open to the public would be best I think. Indoors would be preferable but I'm thinking a compromise indoor-outdoor range would be more feasible. We had one like that here for a while. It had a heated booth with windows that you shoot out of. It was nice in the winter.

I think I could wrangle the land for it but getting it set up according to regs is looking like it's going to be the major obstacle.

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