video surveillance at range: good idea?


July 23, 2014, 07:39 PM
I'd like to find out what works and what doesn't when it comes to a video strategy to reduce vandalism and littering at un-supervised non-gated outdoor range.

Our private club is looking at installing a high-tech video recording system. Due to the nature of the land gating and secure fencing are not an option, nor is having an on-site RO.
Though non-gated & unsupervised, the range is clearly signed as being open to members only (private land that we lease).

The police have said they will use our recordings to investigate any incidents.

This will be a high-def system, so license plates and faces will be clearly recognizable. There will be 3 cameras rolling, all caching the input offsite in real time. The software will allow the recordings to be automatically scanned to id the exact time when, for example, a bullet hole appears in a sign or glass bottles are destroyed. Then it's just a matter of examining the footage just prior to see who was on site.

I hope to find out if your range's video recording system solved more problems than it created. Any experiences, good or bad? Any tips?

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July 24, 2014, 08:20 AM
I can't speak to any experience with them but I would point out as a member of a private range I would no longer be a member if the decision was made to record everything. Americans get enough surveillance as it is.

Is there another location you can be at that allows a gate? Recording events might help identify who did the deed but it doesn't prevent the vandalism. And as soon as people up to no good realize there are cameras I would think it would be a simple enough activity to wear a hoodie.

Just my thoughts I figured I'd throw in there.

July 24, 2014, 08:28 AM
Not only to address vandalism, theft, and dumping, but also to help in determining responsibility for errant shots that leave the area.

From the liability standpoint, that can be critical.

July 24, 2014, 08:30 AM
Twofifty you have a PM

July 24, 2014, 08:38 AM
We did that at our range a few years ago and it is a remarkably effective way of stopping bad, dangerous, and destructive behavior.

A lot of clubs I shoot at have started installing systems like this, and it's funny how even good-ol'-boy club officers sometimes get discovered treating club property like it's theirs (or rather, their mother-in-law's :scrutiny:).

No body likes surveillance. Even fewer like everyone being punished/blamed for the jackass actions of one or two bad apples. When the club Board calls a member in for a chat and pulls up the video of them shooting up the range signs or pointing a gun at someone, everyone kind of goes, "Oh...I get it."

There's some very good reasons for resisting the government's surveillance. With a private shooting range/club it is simply a matter of accountability for your actions, accountability to your club mates.

July 24, 2014, 08:44 AM
To add to this, we also now have RFID key cards for opening the range gate, and clubhouse and indoor range doors. Instead of having to keep track of a key, just slap your wallet against the box and the door unlocks.

And...when the fire department gets called on a Wed. night because someone set the range on fire with tracers, it doesn't take but 5 minutes to find 2-3 folks who either did it, or probably saw who else was there.

July 24, 2014, 09:02 AM
The cameras themselves will become targets for vandalism and theft. How are you going to hide them while still having them in locations to make useful recordings?

July 24, 2014, 09:08 AM
The cameras themselves will become targets for vandalism and theft. How are you going to hide them while still having them in locations to make useful recordings?
You don't have to hide them. In fact, you shouldn't. (Or at least not all of them.)

None of these systems records on media stored inside the camera any more. So if some dude steals the camera, the club president will have a beautiful full-color video of the bright guy who stole it or damaged it right on his laptop at home (or wherever the signal is sent to).

Our club president can get a phone call from the range from someone who wants to report damage and check out the video record without leaving his house. And can check the key card swipes to see who's been there that day, to match a face with a name.

(We have about 1,500+ member families so he doesn't know everyone on sight.)

July 24, 2014, 09:16 AM
Good idea. If your range is going to do this themselves, I can provide you some links to the survaliance systems we use. You will most likely want explosion proof enclosures, as well as ir for night vision unless the range is well lit at night. The easiest way to do cams like this if youndont have wiring in place already is an ip system with Poe, you will however need a solid business class or enterprise grade network.

July 24, 2014, 09:16 AM
Sounds a bit on the expensive side but with todays high-tech stuff very doable.

However I am puzzled as to why fencing and gating is not possible. We run a lot fence over all sorts of terrain with T-Posts and barbed wire.

July 24, 2014, 03:50 PM
The system we have at our range sounds just like the one Sam1911 is referring to. RFID and PIN to gain entry, HD video in each shooting lane and all public areas, meeting rooms, etc. It was the best money our club ever spent, although you'll catch enough of the "good old boys" doing things they shouldn't that it will definitely create some waves in the organization. Is it intrusive? Sure it is, but we haven't had to replace the bullet traps or ricochet curtains (indoor range) since we installed the system, so it's worth it to the club in the end. One thing I'd suggest is find someone that is familiar with the privacy standards that apply to video recording in public/private areas, and have them draft up a one or two page guideline that spells out to the members how the recordings will be used, how long they can be retained, who will have access to the recordings, etc. Heck, Google "video privacy standards" and you can get some really good ideas for how to draft a policy that will help calm some of the more nervous members of your club. As long as everyone knows you won't be using video of someone picking their nose for an entry on America's Funniest Videos, you'll be OK.

PS: Don't go cheap! There's a lot of junk equipment and software out there.

July 24, 2014, 06:53 PM
We are installing cameras at our local public range. The cameras have been ordered and they are inside of a protective Lexan enclosure. In theory, the enclosure will protect the cameras from handgun and shotgun blasts. Besides, if you are in a position to shoot the camera, you have already been recorded. It's a shame we have to resort to cameras, but it seems the range slobs outnumber the decent folk.

July 24, 2014, 06:54 PM
Put on a gate and start supervising it.

If you have a range, given whats been going on of late, its hard to ignore.

From the liability standpoint, that can be critical.

Cameras are great at that.

For keeping out riff-raff, nothing beats a person and a door. (of sorts)

Guess it depends on what matters more- actually stopping the improper activity, or holding someone accountable for it.

Your members should be ( should be ) easily accountable. However, when Joebob with no plates rambles on up to the firing line and dumps his trash, shoots your cameras, and rambles on off the property- you're still outta luck.

Having no way to prevent access is probably the largest hole I can see in any prevention scenario.

Deaf Smith
July 24, 2014, 07:09 PM
Put a plot watcher camera up in a tree, well camouflaged, and don't tell a soul.

I see way to much vandalism on private and public gunranges.


July 24, 2014, 07:20 PM
I used to get a DV/security system catalog from a firm in Texas. They did many types of crime prevention/private security/loss prevention systems. If I can find it, I will pass it on.
I'd add that you might want to get one or 2 low light/night vision type units. This will help for night or after hours.

I would post a few warning signs or posts that clearly say it's private property or trespassers are not allowed. That might sound simple but in court or a civil action the point may come up. :uhoh:

Hunting sites like Cabelas or Gander Mountain might have camo type DV systems that are weather-proof & can blend in. ;)

In closing, you should buy a system or units you can check remotely with a cell phone or tablet.

July 24, 2014, 07:39 PM
Make sure you point the cameras at the license plates too.

July 24, 2014, 09:33 PM
A couple of points:

1) Cameras don't actually stop anyone from doing a bad thing NOW, of course. But really, neither do gates (which can be climbed over or cut down) or even a guard (who could be disposed of) if someone REALLY wants to do something nasty.

2) Cameras DO help you hold folks accountable, so even if you get hit once by someone, they won't get away with it twice or a dozen times.

3) Cameras DO act as an (ironically, perhaps) very good reminder to the good folks of just how good and proper they are ... ;) ... and it's amazing how much little petty annoyance stuff (trash, debris, minor damage) and sloppy behavior (bad muzzle control and stupid gun tricks when "no one's looking") dry up when folks are aware that their antics just may be the night's entertainment at the next BOD meeting ... followed up with a rather gruff phone call.

They say "character" is who you are when no one's looking. When rather serious matters like firearms are involved, it probably makes reasonable sense to be watchful of ourselves and each other, so we don't leave safety and property security up to the lowest common denominator of our collective characters. It is a lot easier to uphold the best standards, always, when you know someone else can see you.

July 24, 2014, 10:28 PM
I agree with the points in 17.
I'd add that posted signs or warning notices clearly shows that any criminal behavior or misconduct would be dealt with. ;)

PS: If trash or litter is a big problem, Id also buy a big sturdy trash can or 2.

One of of my big peeves is places with no trash cans in sight. If you complain about litter or trash, at least give the patrons/members a change to throw it away.

July 24, 2014, 11:41 PM
Thank you for all the replies and the PM.

- yes Kleanbore, I imagine that from a liability standpoint having video may help the club and executive if someone is injured.

- Sam1911: our hope is to increase good behaviour and add a big dose of accountability; glad this is what happened at your range.
- The high definition cameras will be visible and aimed so as to provide backup to each other. The idea of having a hidden oversight one is appealing though, should someone decide to take a rifle shot at them from far away.
- One advantage of rural is that we know who's who in the valley and who drives what.
- The local police are on board and will definitely investigate when we get hit. We figure a few people will put the system to the test and get caught. The club will ask that criminal charges be laid whenever property damage occurs and the police are good with that. Misconduct will be dealt with internally. Trespassers will be charged.

- Deaf Smith: good idea on having some sort of hidden oversight.

- thefish: we are consulting with a savvy IT outfit who will set us up with a solid network system (deep-cell solar-charged battery powered), IR capable, that is manufactured in Sweden by Axis Communications. We already know solar-charged batteries work on this site.

- BSA1, blarby: An RFID-keyed gate or chained gate is not an option as we are 2 miles from the nearest power, and 5 miles from the nearest built-up area, on a dirt road that gets minimal traffic. Historically, gates in this very rural forested mountain area do not last very long as they are easily yanked with a 1-ton pickup.

-yes, we'll have to put up new signs, and also develop a club policy regarding access, privacy, archiving.
- we have 5 huge trash cans.

Sol: yep, the plates will be clearly legible so long as people drive onto the site.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

July 25, 2014, 12:06 AM
In my experience regarding range vandalism (and I have seen way too much) is that the first thing that will happen is that any cameras will be shot out.:scrutiny:

July 25, 2014, 09:20 AM
In my experience regarding range vandalism (and I have seen way too much) is that the first thing that will happen is that any cameras will be shot out.

Placed properly the person who fired the shot would be recorded and transmitted by the camera he "killed." We prosecute vandals if it needs to go that far.

July 25, 2014, 09:30 AM
Positive ID from a video camera requires the "subject" to be fairly close. With a rifle you are probably not going to get that. Especially if they use a rifle.

Arkansas Paul
July 25, 2014, 09:46 AM
I think its a good idea if it will be cost effective for the members.
I'm accustomed to low membership dues. I wouldn't mind the cameras if they didn't cause the dues to go up to an unreasonable amount.

July 25, 2014, 09:50 AM
There's no power for an RFID lock but there's power for cameras?

July 25, 2014, 12:53 PM
The thing about micro solar power is that the electricity generated is much reduced when it is transmitted over long wires: the voltage drops. So each powered function needs its own solar panel, wired close by.

We use a solar recharged RV battery to run the trap thrower, so we know that generally there's enough sunlight on the site to generate electricity year-round provided the panel's location is well thought out.

The surveillance system's power supply will be a similar solar/deep cycle setup, with the solar panel offered some protection from vandalism and being shot at.

The gate, if there was one, does not offer solar panel protection options (at this time) because of where it is located on our lot. Anyhow, a heavy motorized gate is beyond our electricity generating capacity.

Yes Drail, it will be very interesting to see what attempts are made to shoot out the new system. How the cameras are set up and oriented will go a long way toward catching someone who does that. The lay of the land and the thickness of forest cover will narrow down the places from which the cameras can be seen and shot. You'd have to be within 75 yards and your picture would have been taken & stored before the bullet hits the camera.

July 25, 2014, 02:07 PM a member of a private range I would no longer be a member if the decision was made to record everything

Just to play paranoid Devil's Advocate for awhile, I was a range officer at a range in the DC area when the "Beltway Sniper" was running amok. Cops were demanding membership lists, and wanting to know who had an AR 15. I pretty much honestly told them I didn't know, and kicked the problem up to the next pay grade (we were all volunteers). I'm glad that I didn't have video for them to subpena/steal. There were no knock raids on the nightly news, some from these lists, others from neighbors mentioning that somebody had a black rifle, none for any real probable cause.

July 25, 2014, 02:57 PM
Well GUYS our Gun Club was having some problems with theft and vandism so we put up trail cameras in very well hiden places in 5 or 6 places around our ranges. But we are not very High Tech and darn sure not the sharpest knives in the drawer. And some one stole every one of our super well hiden cameras. Wasn`t funny then, but sorta is now. I didn`t help on that detail so I thought it was funny when it happened and it still is to me. The guys that put up and hid the cameras braged that no one would never beable to find them. They are kinda of tight liped about this topic now, and this subject is sorta testy. If some one by ((( ACIDENT ))) happends to bring this up .

July 25, 2014, 04:44 PM
They're a great idea. With the cost of such systems now being so affordable, it's almost foolish anyplace where there is a possibility of vandalism or dangerous activity, not to use 'em. Not only does the recording of incidents promote prosecution, just the presence of them provides a deterrence. As for those folks that think it's a invasion of their privacy....stay at home, with your shades pulled tight. Otherwise you are being recorded. Can't pull up to a gas pump, walk in a restaurant, or WalMart without having your image recorded. Most public buildings have them. Whether you go in the bank or just use the drive-up window, the man knows you're there. Walk down the street past a stoplight and odds are it's being recorded. Got something to hide you don't want the cameras to see you at the range....stay home and shoot on your own range. Or get over it.

July 25, 2014, 06:04 PM
I agree with the last post.
A clean, well run, chain place near me has DV/CCTV cams in every lane of the gun range. :uhoh:
Are they doing this for privacy reasons? No! Are they being excessive? No!
With a series of suicides & murder-suicides in gun ranges, I wouldn't blame any business or big company from wanting to have better security systems.
The range cadre(armed) need to be aware of any problems or unsafe acts.


July 25, 2014, 08:08 PM
CCTV cameras do not provide "security" any more than the circus clowns in blue at the airport. If they did then all we would need at every military post or base is a gate with some cameras on it instead of armed guards. Or ask Obama what he thinks of replacing all of the security people at the White House with some cheap video cameras.:scrutiny: The last range I worked at installed dusk to dawn lights on the range for "security". Two weeks later they were all shot out. Never again. I never agreed with the whole concept of "let them go ahead and commit a crime and then we'll catch them later".

DT Guy
July 25, 2014, 08:22 PM
As mentioned earlier, cameras are not for 'security', they are for 'accountability.'

As someone who administers 10-11 commercial grade camera systems (of 20 to 100 cameras each), I can attest that the expense and upkeep from a technologically up-to-date system is not justified by preventing criminal acts (except for the difficult-to-quantify deterrence they provide), it's to facilitate investigation after the event.

As for cameras getting shot out, the proper placement of cameras in a 'self-supervising' arrangement, as appropriate in a high-risk environment, will make that highly investigate-able as well. Some will go so far as to make sure the most prominent 'cameras' aren't even cameras, while the extra-high resolution cameras supervising the decoy 'cam' are able to see anyone who observes or accesses it. Look up 'video herding' or 'video push' techniques.

If cameras didn't work, tight-fisted businesses wouldn't spend half a million dollars or more installing them.


July 25, 2014, 08:33 PM
Personally support video of the facilities. I have nothing to hide and am tired of paying for irresponsible members at our club. We are gated and secure so the likelihood of the vandalism is by members. Destroys property without a concern for who has to pay. Go for it.

July 25, 2014, 10:28 PM
I never agreed with the whole concept of "let them go ahead and commit a crime and then we'll catch them later".How does that help our friend here? He can't lock them out and he can't post a 24-hour human armed guard to act as physical deterrence.

Shooting out security lights is nothing like shooting out security cameras. Most lights can't take your picture and send it to a monitoring station before you pull the trigger. Cameras can.

Unless you're going to provide some kind of physical resistance to vandals (i.e.: someone with a gun who will SHOOT them :rolleyes:) then a well planned security camera system is the next best thing.

It doesn't do much good to poo-poo the idea simply because it isn't maximum security. Budget will be the compelling actor, and these systems WORK.

July 25, 2014, 10:53 PM
Thank you. Yes, we can only do what we can.

It would be nice to have much more money and unlimited power on site. Then we could layer the defenses and address the weak points raised in this thread.

No doubt the system will be challenged by a few local residents. Once the subsequent police interviews occur, the vandals will move on to easier pastures. Word gets around fast in a small isolated rural town of 4,000 residents and but one high school.

Any other tips are welcome.

July 26, 2014, 07:53 AM
I never said CCTVs or DVs could or would replace security measures anywhere but they are part of a security system.
You don't need armed guards or 24hr police but you can be prepared to deal with any problems/document activity.

As noted, security DV models are lower cost & offer more features.


July 26, 2014, 10:18 AM
The gate, if there was one, does not offer solar panel protection options (at this time) because of where it is located on our lot. Anyhow, a heavy motorized gate is beyond our electricity generating capacity.

You don't need a motorized gate. Use a Forest Service type pipe gate with an electromagnetic lock. The locks work on DC voltage and have extremely low power requirements.

The rule is that you're responsible for closing the gate in back of you entering or exiting. You're going to have a camera at the gate and if the vehicle entering / exiting leaves the gate open - they're out of the club.

You can get locks with internal "bond sensor" that indicates if the lock is open or closed. The way you would setup the gate is to issue a proximity card to each member. Presentation of the card to a card reader at the gate would momentarily drop the power to the lock so the gate can be opened.

The system would require an access control field processor (again extremely low power) to interface the card read and electromagnetic lock. The system can be setup with a cellular auto-dialer so that if the gate is left open, the system will dial one or more pre-programmed phone numbers to alert the appropriate people to the gate being open.

You review the recorded video to find out who left the gate open, and then send them a letter warning them of the infraction and if it happens again - their card will be deleted from the system and they will no longer have range access.

Look at Door King for the field processor, Securitron for the electromagnetic lock, and HID for the proximity cards and card readers.

The Forest Service style gate can be fabricated by any gate company who should also be able to supply all of the appropriate access control equipment.

If you want a gate operator for an automated gate, you can find solar powered gate operators. One of the best is made by HySecurity. (

The HySecurity operators use either DC motors or DC hydraulic pumps to operate and are easily powered by a solar panel with a deep cycle 12 Volt battery.

July 26, 2014, 01:41 PM
At our indoor range we have to wear a badge with our name on it. The badge gets us in through the electronic lock. Works well unless you walk out the door and forget our badge like I did once.

We have cameras all over in our range. It doesn't bother me that someone MAY watch me. Someone isn't sitting there watching all of the digital pics 24/7. They only watch if there has been a problem or if they suspect someone has been causing a problem. If someone isn't handling firearms properly they will say something if they spot it.

We put an entirely new system in our private school. It was very easy and very inexpensive. It didn't take any time at all and it is pretty much plug and play these days. The pics are amazingly good and prices are very reasonable.

I am in the boat as those who thing we are losing too much of our privacy but there are times when something like this makes sense. Safety of everyone around is key.

The Lone Haranguer
July 26, 2014, 01:52 PM
I see nothing wrong, on the surface, with the concept. (This is not to say that if I dug deeper I wouldn't find problems or unintended consequences.) It also should be extended to the parking lot. There have been cases of range patrons mugged for their guns.

July 26, 2014, 02:21 PM
Cameras are a great DETERRENT, and I definitely recommend them. Once you have them you will wonder how you ever got by without them.

Yes, it's true that if someone was really determined they could beat the cameras but they could also drive through your gate and shoot your RO if they were that determined. For the other 99.9% of offenders, the cameras will help deter them.

Also, you are not going to have internet out there so you will need a DVR recording system. Just make sure it's well secured somewhere that's not obvious. And, that DVR will use alot more power that you may have available.

July 27, 2014, 05:48 AM
I saw a media item about a large school district that was T&Eing a "new" modern access control/ID system. This was in the months after Sandy-Hook/Newtown CT 2012. :uhoh:
The students(K-6, jr high range) had digital photo IDs with RFID chips(radio frequency identity).
The intent was a fast, accurate way of finding/IDing school kids in a critical incident or natural disaster.
I would not support it for my kid(s) if I were a parent there or on the school board/PTA. My concerns would be some Petey Pedo or hacker gaining full access to each child in the school. Knowing where they are or when they'd be at a location. :uhoh:

The whole plan reminded me of the old Garth Brooks country song lyric; The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

I told my ex(who was on the faculty at Texas A&M in College Station, TX) that Id smash or break my school ID as often as I could if I were a kid there.

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