Constructing a Steel Indoor Shooting Range

Published December 20, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

steel indoor shooting range

An indoor shooting range calls for a durable building with a flexible layout and plenty of room for gun owners to practice in a safe environment. Steel fills the bill perfectly. You can build a clear span steel building with room for multiple shooting corridor, bullet traps and noise abatement.

A steel building is easily outfitted with the appropriate ventilation to keep employees and patrons safe from lead dust. Also, you can plan the right number of exits to fulfill fire safety regulations.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do to build a shooting range in a steel building.

Know what is behind the targets

Once you have selected the metal indoor shooting range site, make sure the range is oriented so that patrons are shooting in a direction away from houses, roads and places where people gather.

  • The typical indoor range is built with the back wall against a sloped bank.
  • Baffles are placed on the roof for safety and noise abatement.
  • Bullet traps are placed in front of the back wall.

There should be no way for anyone outside to be hit by a bullet. All bullet traps must be able to stop every bullet fired into it and keep it until time for removal and disposal.

Make environmental safety a top priority

Most bullets are still made with lead. As the bullet is fired and hits the target and the bullet trap, it will shed lead particles into the air, the trap, and the floor of the range. Lead contamination is a huge concern; you don’t want patrons or employees breathing in lead-laced dust or getting it on their clothes or skin to carry away with them.

Even outdoor shooting ranges must emphasize lead cleanup. Concrete structures under baffles can create spaces of stagnant air where lead dust can gather instead of blowing away.

Consult with experts to find the best air ventilation system for your shooting range and make the decision whether to have employees clean out the bullet traps and dispose of spent bullets or to have a third-party service perform cleanup and haul-off.

Plan soundproofing and ear protection

Bullets create a large amount of noise pressure. When fired within a building, the noise can seem louder than an outdoor range. Your patrons and employees should wear appropriate hearing protection, but you still need to find a way to muffle the sound until it is below 140 dB.

The most common soundproofing systems use air-locked soundproofing. Each shooting corridor has mirror image egress doors at opposite ends of the corridor. The local regulations may also prohibit the firing of .50 caliber and larger bullets.

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Determine the type of firearms allowed at your steel indoor shooting range

Various jurisdictions may have restrictions on the type of firearms or ammunition allowed to be used within the jurisdictional limits. For an indoor shooting range, you will probably have to limit your clientele to pistols rather than rifles or other long guns.

The type of firearms used also determines the type of bullet trap you select. Pistols typically penetrate deeper than rifles; you will need a deeper set of trap compartments for sufficient safety. On the other hand, rifle bullets tend to break up more within the trap compartment, requiring more time to be spent on maintenance.

How many square feet do you need?

The amount of space you need depends on the number of customers you believe will be using the range daily. To maximize your revenues, you will want to accommodate as many at once as possible. However, if your research shows that there is not an adequate number of gun owners in the area who would come to your range over a competitor’s, you may want a smaller range.

The type of gun also dictates space requirements. If you plan to allow long-range pistols or long guns, you need longer shooting corridors than for smaller pistols.

metal indoor shooting range

Choose the right bullet trap 

Bullet traps can be made of different material, but the most common and effective is sand. Each trap contains a sand compartment, and it may or may not have structural support. For an indoor range, the lack of individual structural support may not matter.

  • The bullet trap is placed at the end of the shooting corridor with walls on either side to support it.
  • The bullet trap comes with its own support and slides into a premeasured space leaving no gaps between the trap and the wall.
  • There are gaps between the trap and the wall, but you plug them with the appropriate material.

The type of material in your bullet trap impacts the time you spend on maintenance. Each trap must be emptied of spent bullets daily or weekly depending on your traffic. Removing bullets from a sand compartment takes longer than removing them from a rubberized compartment.

Another important characteristic of your bullet trap is the metal that provides the structural support. Solid, high gauge steel will hold up better against repeated bullet hits than thinner steel or iron. It will be more expensive initially but will last longer than a less expensive metal.

Gaining approval for your metal INDOOR shooting range

Before you can build your shooting range, you need approval from the city council or another local government group.

  • Make all your estimations about customer numbers and square footage required.
  • Draw up your plans as blueprints and earmark the land you want to build on.
  • Raise funds to purchase the land, building kit, and other necessities.
  • Submit the proposal for approval.

The council may send the proposal back for clarification or to remedy compliance issues. To reduce the chance of that happening, consult the local officials before you submit your proposal. Ask them for feedback on your ideas and about the points they need to be covered.

If you talk to officials ahead of time, you are more likely to put together an acceptable proposal that needs no rework, and the officials will be familiar with you and your indoor shooting range plan, and therefore more likely to approve it. If there are any questions about zoning, get them cleared up as soon as possible.

Once your proposal is approved, you can begin building your shooting range. Consult a steel building manufacturer. Bring your building plans and get a quote on the price of the type of building you need and collaborate with the sales engineer to create a metal building system that fits all your requirements.


Steel is far and away the best material for a shooting range. It is durable; your range will last for a long time.

Steel buildings are flexible, so if you want to change the layout, it's easy to do. Steel is strong and will keep others outside the building safe from accidents. Metal buildings are also easy to install baffling, insulation and any other accessory you need to provide your patrons with a safe, reliable environment to practice shooting for self-defense, marksmanship, or plain old fun.

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