Tips for Starting a Commercial Indoor Shooting Range

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Are you considering turning your passion for firearms into a profitable business by opening a commercial shooting range? While this can be an exciting and lucrative venture, there are several important factors to consider before getting started.


Research the Laws

First and foremost, it's essential to research the laws and regulations surrounding shooting ranges. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) website is an excellent resource and offers call-in support to help answer any questions you may have. However, it's crucial to also familiarize yourself with local guidelines and regulations, as you'll need to adhere to both federal and local requirements.


Attend Gun Shows

In addition to networking with gun manufacturers, attending gun shows can also provide valuable insights into customer preferences and trends within the shooting industry. You can observe what types of firearms and accessories are popular and what customers are willing to pay for them. This information can be particularly helpful in determining what types of firearms and accessories to stock in your shooting range's retail section.

Furthermore, attending gun shows can also give you the chance to try out new firearms and equipment, allowing you to gain firsthand experience with the products you may eventually stock in your range. This experience can help you better understand the needs of your customers and ensure that you offer a high-quality shooting experience.

In addition to attending gun shows, it's also a good idea to reach out to other shooting range owners and seek their advice. Many range owners are willing to share their experiences and offer tips for success, particularly if you're not in direct competition with them. This can be a valuable source of information and can help you avoid common mistakes that could hinder your success.

By taking advantage of these resources and seeking out advice from others in the industry, you can gain the knowledge and insights needed to create a successful shooting range that meets the needs of your customers and stands out in a competitive market.


Join Associations

Joining industry associations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Rifle Association can also provide valuable news and advice for your business. These organizations offer a wealth of information and resources that can help you stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments and regulations.


Should I open an indoor or outdoor shooting range?

When opening a commercial shooting range, one of the big decisions you will need to make is if it should be an indoor or outdoor range. Let's take a look at the most important factors of both for you.

Weather: If the weather is bad, an outdoor range will have to close. An indoor range can be open year-round, regardless of the weather.

Average Cost and Fees: Indoor ranges usually charge $15-25 per hour or higher if someone is renting gear. Outdoor ranges usually charge between $20-30 per hour, but in some states, the Bureau of Land Management manages them, making outdoor ranges free to the public.

Gun and Gear Restrictions: Indoor ranges usually have gun, ammo, and target restrictions. Outdoor ranges do as well, but usually, they have fewer restrictions than indoor ranges.

Realistic Shooting Environment: Outdoor ranges have the most realistic environments.

Accessibility: Indoor shooting ranges can operate in many urban and suburban areas. Outdoor ranges have to be remote so the noise from the guns does not disturb anyone.

Type of Shooting Training: An indoor range is usually best for those with basic firearms training. An outdoor range is good for people with hunting and tactical training.

Amenities: Indoor shooting ranges have air conditioning and heaters, restrooms nearby, automatic target retrievals, and even vending machines. These cannot be obtained in an outdoor range.

While both indoor and outdoor ranges have a lot to offer, an indoor range has the potential for more profits since it can be open all year, whereas an outdoor range will have to close in adverse weather.


What an Indoor Commercial Shooting Range Needs

There are a few things that you are going to need to include in your shooting range's building for safety reasons.


Safety Features

Every indoor firing range needs to have a granular rubber trap, which sits and the end of the range and catches bullets, then traps any shrapnel from the bullet.

Your range is going to need a safety ceiling to keep anyone in your surrounding area safe if a bullet travels toward the ceiling.

The last major component of your range is a good HVAC system. It will help push any lead or smoke down the range, away from the people shooting.


The Building

If you are building a custom structure for your indoor shooting range, a steel building is an excellent choice. You can customize the layout completely so that it fits everything you have planned for your business. It is easy to expand a steel building if your business grows to the point that you need a bigger firing range. Steel is the strongest building material available, and it does not require support columns; this means you will not have to plan your building around any columns, allowing you to maximize your space.

You need to determine how many shooters you will want on your range at most. It is common to make each lane in a firing range about five feet wide so there is a safe distance between shooters. This means that if you want to have ten shooters at once, you will need to have 50 feet of width for your indoor shooting range.


Insurance

Like any other type of business, your shooting range is also going to need to have insurance, and since firearms are a liability themselves, your commercial range is going to need a bit more insurance than other small business does. The insurance types you may need include:

- Firearms liability

- Commercial general liability

- Commercial property loss

- Workers' compensation claims

- Fire or flood

- Weather-related disasters

- Lead pollution liability

- Personal liability

These extra insurances can be spendy, but the good news is if you use a steel building for your range, you may be able to get a discount on your insurance costs!


Final Thoughts

We hope these tips can help you get started planning your commercial indoor shooting range. It can be a lucrative business and is great for someone who is passionate about firearms!

 

About the Author

Auz Burger is a freelance writer and an expert in steel buildings. She has a BA from Washington State University and has been writing and editing professionally for over a decade. 

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