How do you create and maintain a safe shooting environment for your customers? Here are some tips.
Photos Shana Baldassari
David O'Meara gives a rundown of the questions you should ask range maintenance companies prior to hiring them for managing the waste from your range.
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From the moment you step onto a range, your firearms shooting training experience begins. Any officer or firearms enthusiast knows that lead can be a silent killer if proper precautions and practices aren't followed. "Indoor shooting range design plays a big role in your lead issues and the health, safety and success of your shooters," says David O'Meara, director of law enforcement systems at Meggitt Training Systems.
O'Meara spoke at the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week about lead management (best practices on safety, containment, maintenance, responsibility) and design and configuration for an indoor range. "Design [a range] with training in mind," he says.
If you or your department is looking to build a new range or redesign an existing range, here are some quick tips for planning in order to save costs and keep your shooters safe.
1. "Step one: location is everything," says O'Meara. Whether you're looking for a place to build a new range or redesigning an existing one, it's important to evaluate the structure and equipment for hazmat and existing warranties.
2. Plan on having a ventilation system that meets OSHA 1910.1025 standard. Lead poisoning is a serious issue so monitor lead exposure levels and the ventilation system with air samples. No customer should be exposed to lead at concentrations greater than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight-hour period. "Ideally, you should take a sample during the worst-case scenario: after a full line of shooters fire," says O'Meara.
3. "Range operators own their lead waste from the cradle to the grave," says O'Meara. You're responsible for contracting a range maintenance company (or you can do it yourself with the proper guidelines) to document, manifest, dispose and recycle your lead waste. Most companies will also inspect your range for equipment damage and needed repairs.
4. The layout of the range should increase people flow. "Make signs clear and visible," says O'Meara. You should also position equipment so that it directs traffic and doesn't cause congestion.
5. Position the gun range at the back of the building so that you're audible at the entrance. This allows range masters to communicate instructions and directions without straining to be heard over gun shots.
6. "Don't skimp on square footage," says O'Meara. The best indoor ranges include viewing areas, room behind the firing line so that shooters can maneuver, and gear storage.
7. Have a firm firing line security system to protect shooters. For example, you can install a system that alerts the shooter when he/she passes that line by setting off an alarm.
8. The booths that separate each shooter should be ballistic walls. "Oftentimes, when shooters are reloading their guns, they are aiming it toward another shooter, and this can be potentially dangerous without the ballistic booths," says O'Meara.
9. Have range communication in place, such as surveillance cameras and audio, so that you can communicate easily with shooters while they're on the range.
10. Plan ahead to save cost and time.
We asked our Facebook fans: What else makes an indoor range successful?
Joe L.: Good range masters.
Thomas L: Quality sound proofing for noise reduction along with quality ear protection.
Doug C.: Well-lighted, well-ventilated, plenty of room to maneuver, sensible well-enforced safety rules, knowledgeable range master and upkeep of equipment and mechanics.
Sherman K: Proper backstops.
Chris E.: Wash your hands in cold water after shooting. No eating or drinking on the range.
For more information on lead management and range design (sample schematics, pricing, etc.), you can visit Meggitt's website.