Built a 75' Indoor Range at work.


February 13, 2013, 11:16 PM
So I have been gathering up hard plate steel for years whenever the opportunity arose for reactive targets and the hopes to build an indoor range at work. My welder/fabricator was in between jobs today so I started pulling plate from my stashes around the shop. As we gathered it up we began to realize there was quite a bit of 3/16" T1 hard plate which is roughlybetween AR300 to AR400 on the hardness scale. I went to the computer design room and fired up the CNC design station and the sacrificial email/internet computer and started to Google bullet traps, designs and pictures. None none really suited our goals and size requirements so we decided to get the steel, a sharpie marker, clamps and the Millermatic 251. Too thick for the Lincoln, no point in using the TIG. We measured the area where we thought best to put it and worked to our maximum allowable width that still suited the size strike plate material. Then we started clamping and building jigs. Once satisfied we were on best path considering we had never built one, some tack welding was done. Just enough so we could handle it but still cut it apart if we had to go back to square one.

Now we were to the point of having a relatively large box with top, bottom and back. So now to make the magic happen. Catch the bullets without it spitting them back out and wounding anything in the machine shop portion of the building or even worse sending shards into the two OSHA flammable liquid cabinets on either side. May regret that positioning some day but it allowed us to use entire 60 foot length of the shop, open the double French doors going into the transition area/work station going to the offices for maximum range length. This gives us a full 25 yards/75 feet. Now the project was finally beyond planning and becoming a very large conglomerate of steel forming a very heavy and large box.

So now to make and locate the strike plate or plates. We had no idea how to accomplish this in our design. The internet gave a myriad of suggested angles mostly in the 30 to 45 degree range. So working with those two numbers and browsing about 100 photos of traps on the net we played with different configurations till we found something that looked to be plausible. Two plates. One angleing down from the top and one angling up from the bottom we placed them at approximately 37 degree angles so it looked like a triangle facing into the trap with some offset and overlap so no bullets struck the back of the box without first being deflected by the strike plates. We cut and built sides with two open areas on each side to place doors to recover the fired bullets. It finally looked good so I have my welder the green light to weld it up tight. Now it was done and between a big set of hand trucks and a pallet jack we wrestled it into position.

Now it was time for the big moment and everyone eared up. I stepped to the 50 foot firing line and sent our first 22 rimfire subsonic and it felt so good I just had to follow that shot with a magdump. We went and inspected our trap. No holes, no dents and only stuffs on the catylized epoxy finish. So now to standard velocity rimfire and all was well, so next a.box of CCI Stingers let fly with same results. Our next try was with a 50 count box of 38 special cast bullet range ammo. Bang Gong, Bang Gong. Inspection showed no holes, no dents or even missing paint. Just lead spots followed by a streak that sent it into the back to disintegrate into little pieces that neatly collected in the bottom. Since I knew this was probably the project for this rainy day I had brought some additional toys. I picked up my Canadian Hi Power a friend brought back from Viet Nam where he took it off a V.C. that he shot through the head with his M1a. Said that was a Boom Splat. 50 rounds of Federal 9mm +P hollow points gave us the same result so I got my 3" 5 shot 44 special that lives under the seat of my truck and two speed loaders of ammo with same results as all others.

Now it was time to settle in. I got my compensated 45 acp IPSC pistol and 150 or so rounds of my pet 45 loads. Once again a bunch of Bang Gong and it ate them all up. Now to step it up again and I picked a 6" Dan Wesson 744VH in 44 mag and sent 50 rounds into the beast. It was more of a BOOM Goonngg! After all of this still not a dent or any missing exterior paint. We got a brick of 22lr and sent another 500 rounds into the trap. It contained every single shot effectively. Only gun I had left with ammo was my 22 Hornet rifle. So let's try a centerfire rifle albeit small. It took the Hornet well. So now were slap out of ammo. I called the wife and declaired an emergency. She brought us another 400 rounds of mixed centerfire handgun ammo which we made short work of. So a couple of thousand rounds later we had fully tested the machine up to 44 magnum and centerfire rifle. No damage at all. We opened the hatch and scraped all the lead pieces into a 5 gallon bucket to come home and through the bullet molds to be fired again. So all OS well at work. We now have to build one more to make us a two man range and we will be done. While it required a lot of hard plate, and a full day for two men. But I foresee many years of pleasure at work over lunch breaks and rainy evenings out of the effort. I suggest all who have a bit of space to gather some parts and give it a try. Being able to shoot pistols anytime I want without burning a drop of gas will be stunning. I imagine my 2,000 round per month current rate of consumption will at least double. So its off to the reloading room to crank up the Dillon and spit out enough to keel me shooting the next few days.

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February 14, 2013, 12:35 AM
This thread needs photos

February 14, 2013, 12:38 AM
Ditto on pictures/drawings.

Also, did you do anything about ventilation and air filtering? That's a pretty key part

February 14, 2013, 01:08 AM
Umm, I'm willing to relocate. Any openings? :)

February 14, 2013, 01:42 AM
Me to I'm a Journeyman welder in need of a job.:neener:

February 14, 2013, 12:13 PM
Yes, ventilation at rear of shop to evacuate lead dust, smaller quit unit at shooting end for smoke and fumes. The rear vent system is filtered to keep from poisoning the community. Problem is space. One 75 foot lane was easy. But to convert to two lanes be limited to 60 feet due to building layout. Will take and post some pics. For the welder looking for a job. I have my fabrication department full but if you stop buy part of the interview process involves a 45 and 50 rounds of ammo. You may want to apply often to make sure I keep your application fresh on my mind.

February 14, 2013, 01:47 PM
PLEASE, pics. Trying to something similar, just a dependable bullet trap for .22 long rifle in my shop. Thanks for sharing, lots of good info.

Jolly Rogers
February 14, 2013, 07:14 PM
I worry about pedestrian control when the range is in use. How do you control employees that may enter the range area?

February 14, 2013, 08:01 PM
Not best pics in world from phone but here are a few:

This is the trap as built. This one is destined to go to my house and live in the basement. The real intent for it was R&D to see if we had our steel alloys and angles correct for sucking up rounds without spitting them back. The next one is going to have the strike plates running vertically so that we can build it four feet tall. We will build two of them and mount them side by side. These due to size and where we will put them will be limited to 60' maximum firing distance. This trap has two 3/16" T1 hard plate strike plates that overlap but not quite enough. some shots are hitting the rear of the trap straight on and not busting on the strike plates before hitting the rear. We did build the back out of hard plate too just in case this happened. I put my first dent in the rear today with a couple of direct hits that missed the strike with some full house 240 grain 44 magnum rounds. At least I know my metal is tough.


This is what one of the work counter stations looked like at lunch. Hope the new wears off soon as 2 hour shooting breaks might get into the bottom line. We all stayed a little after work to shoot too. Valentines may not be so warm when we get home.


I had a Ruger 10/22 that a client dropped off for a complete build. He said the rifle had problems with light primer strikes which we noticed yesterday. One of the hang arounds shot some poor groups with it yesterday and blamed the rifle. I took it home last night and quickly put in a new firing pin/spring combination to test and just to prove to the wanna be that the rifle had nothing to do with his accuracy I brought this big Las Vegas coin cup full of mixed 22 ammo that had been collecting for years. The few left in a pocket at the end of a day, the ones the wife finds in the bottom of the washing machine or dryer, etc. It had subsonic, cheap lead, stingers, shorts, longs, long rifles, truncated cone, etc. Had to be at least 15 different types of ammo in the cup. I had two men loading magaines, stood at the 50 foot line and shot offhand with no rest or support. I had to shoot while breathing as unable to hold my breath that long. The loaders kept a mag count and it added up to around 650 total rounds in the cup, one session with the 25 round mags getting shot dry in 30 to 45 seconds and the 10 rounders in 15 to 30 seconds according to the timer. There were a few called flyers where I pulled the shot but three were while talking on the phone with my Bluetooth device and found moving my jaw to form words affected aim. Until then had a large single ratty hole for a group and the phone call came somewhere around 400 rounds into the session. The punk had to admit that the stock little 10/22 would shoot. Offhand, cold from hot, slinging them faster than he could count at times and mag changes were a true test for the little gun. When I get the entire build done bet it will do the same thing in less than an inch and 3/8" off a rest.



Here is the target from the full house 240 grain 44 magnum loads that dented the back. You can see from their positioning how they slipped through the strike plates. Have to hang the target low for big guns to prevent this and on the next ones we will add some extended overlap for the strike plates.


Here is what we have found the limit to number of casings in the floor before the broom is needed.


Now for some pictures to show some idea of construction. Our active shooting area is 28" x 28" which is pretty large inside a building. But our final versions are planning 32" wide and 48" tall. Should be big enough to give latitude for quick draws and double tapping.


At this point the trap has seen over 3,000 rounds from 3 men in two days. We have shot at it with everything from 22lr to full house 44 mag. All of the bullets stay in the machine and nothing spits back at the shooter.




Oops, don't know how this one got through but now that it has, someone needs to sit and stare at these in case they get a mind of their own and decided to run away and create chaos. You see the little legs and evil minds that are evolving from just their mere existence in private hands?


February 15, 2013, 07:15 PM
Well today was another slow day for the fabrication department. We have a bunch of materials coming in on Monday and they are going to have to get onto some paying work. That said, we jigged up and tack welded most of the new trap based on our learning experience fro the first one. This trap is going to be 32" wide active shooting area and 48" tall active area. That will be 10.6 Sq. Ft. of room to send rounds. Due to weight we found an older steel hand truck and cut off the critical parts to put this on wheels and make it easily mobile. The strike plates are T1 hard plate at 38 degree angle but more overlap to avoid direct hits on the rear of the trap. In the event that the odd one does and since this is such a high impact area as all bullets hit it after the strike plates that area of high duty cycle is going to have a 3/16" x 16" x 32" piece of AR500 to reinforce and suck up the odd bullet that gets through without a deflection.

I also ordered a piece of 1/8" T1 to weld over the inside of the door for the odd bullet that may get away intact or in pieces. Also have some 4" strips of 3/16" T1 that we will reface the steel door frame to give us a wider berth for flyers. That will be a 44" x 88" hard plate backstop to go behind the 32" x 48" trap. One of the hired help came up with the idea that we can open the door and roll it out to the far edge of the loading dock so from out most distant firing line we will have 95' from rifle muzzle to target A little tweaking and we can get a full 100 foot shop range. While not good for sighting in rifles for hunting, I believe up to 22 hornet, 30-30, 35 Rem and other venerable older low velocity center fire rifle cartridges we will be fine and 100 feet will get sights close enough to make short work of tweaking the rifle at the 100 yard range. A couple more versions and we should have a good working design to base future builds on. If all goes well and my steel supply keeps finding me hard plate drops we may build a trap for outside. We have 75 yards to work with there and that is getting close enough to work small to medium sized center fire rifles. The neighbors called the cops on us today and our local sheriff just laughed ant them. Ended up with three deputies getting their service pistols all dirty and having to clean them before they left. Sometimes being a well established 60 year old company helps motivated the local authorities to give you a little latitude. When the say the big one being jigged up they got plum giddy. We have provided free coffee, cokes and use of restroom to any police office since the 1970's. It is really good for a business to have several cops stop by a day. Think we will get more now with free ammo and a range.

February 15, 2013, 08:22 PM
Jolly Rogers, range control easy. Anyone dumb enough to step between trap and firing line when hot,.will be rolled into the 6 yard dumpster beside the building and covered with trash. We are not a huge company. Do a head count and we are good. Lock rear and side doors when use the range. We are going to have to move. One fire extinguisher and electrical sub panel for safety.

Have one of my employees been shooting IDPA for a while and got a little mouth today. I challenged him to d duel using Speer plastic bullets and each with a 4" 357 revolver and duty holster. The plastic bullets have a red plastic casing that uses a primer for ignition and no powder pushing a polymer bullet. We loaded up our wheel guns, put on grinding masks to protect our faces and a coat for a little padding. They still sting pretty hard. I use this technique teaching advanced defense classes. He was faster on the draw twice but could not anticipate me stepping left or right as I drew so his first shot missed all four times and I would drill him twice in the chest. He decided after that the bruises were hurting too much to continue. He is no having to reconsider the realism of shooting at silhouette targets as opposed to a man holding a gun. It was pretty funny to see how this young tough kid doubled up and lost his ability to concentrate once he got slapped with just a plastic bullet. I do not recommend others try this without extensive understanding and safety equipment.

February 16, 2013, 08:23 AM
Too cool.

Sav .250
February 16, 2013, 08:54 AM
Do you need a permit or did you get one. How bout your insurance co? Are they ok with your set-up? Just wondering.

February 16, 2013, 06:37 PM
Are you hiring? I work cheap just pay me in brass and lead. Ill move
I promise Ill never be late( I just wont leave.)

February 16, 2013, 08:19 PM
Neat set-up.
Just curious what you store in that "Flammable" cabinet.
It does seem kind of close.


February 16, 2013, 08:39 PM
I've had an indoor range at my house for years, we shoot a couple times a week.
Any kind of frequent indoor shooting you really need to use non-toxic ammo. Completely lead and heavy metal free primer and projectile.

February 17, 2013, 12:36 PM
That's awesome!

I just hope you hide or cover up that trap if OSHA stops by:eek:

Sent from my C5120 using Tapatalk 2

February 17, 2013, 01:47 PM
You need to add some material that will stop the bullets from fragmenting. That may be old conveyor belt hung in your trap or rubber panels, but it is better to keep the bullets from breaking up from a lead exposure standpoint.

Also, the primary source of lead exposure to the shooter is due to primer lead and barrel fume generated by unjacked rounds. A very robust ventilation system needs to be pulling the air in an area 5-ft behind the shooter to 10-ft in front of them vigorously away and out of the building.

February 18, 2013, 09:07 PM
The Flammable Cabinet just has oil based automotive paint. Even if a can took a direct hit worse case is it would make a gooey mess in the cabinet. As to insurance we have a ton of it and my agent says we are o.k. as long as all users sign a waiver. In fact, her husband is now stopping by a lot more often. As to ventilation, we have massive ventilation systems. We have exhaust fans at the trap end of the shop and the firing line end. We also have two industrial sized HEPA air filtration units in the shop and a HEPA unit in every office. We are a combination metal/steel fabrication, wood working and paint shop. We have to deal with welding fumes, saw dust, paint over-spray and do it well enough that one does not contaminate the other. We are set up so one man can be welding, another running a table saw, someone running a sander, another sandblasting and a man in the paint booth all at the same time without cross contamination.

I went by my steel vendor today. He just so happened to have several larger pieces of AR400 and AR500 drops. We went outside with rifles and played a bit to see what it is going to take to go big. Tomorrow the fabrication guy has the material, design and time to start a 38" wide by 50" tall active shooting area version that will stop up to a 308 Winchester. Being able to chow down with the M1A in the building is going to be oppressive I believe. He just has to finish my new magnum sized lead furnace first. Looks like we are going to be going through a lot more cast bullets in the future.

February 22, 2013, 07:18 AM
You need to add some material that will stop the bullets from fragmenting. That may be old conveyor belt hung in your trap or rubber panels, but it is better to keep the bullets from breaking up from a lead exposure standpoint.

Also, the primary source of lead exposure to the shooter is due to primer lead and barrel fume generated by unjacked rounds. A very robust ventilation system needs to be pulling the air in an area 5-ft behind the shooter to 10-ft in front of them vigorously away and out of the building.
The largest source for airborne lead in an indoor range is from the heavy metals in the primers... not the bullets. If your shooting inside you need to use completely non-tox ammo. lead free primer and lead free projectile. I'm also a commercial real estate broker, if you try to sell your building after coating the inside with lead dust you'll kill the value and jack your liability. You'll have to pay somone to take it off your hands or spend a couple weeks with haz mat folks in white suits scrubbing the surfaces at $300/hr.

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