Firearms advocacy in Texas is at an all-time high. With record numbers of new gun owners and firearms sales in the past few years, even more, people are flocking to gun ranges across the US to test out their new firepower. The only problem is now there is hardly any room to enjoy a nice day at the range. The constant crowdedness in cheaper ranges and the hiking membership prices in more upscale ranges are making it increasingly difficult for the average joe to warrant spending so much money to shoot off a few rounds.
Fortunately, there are other avenues to venture into for those who want to get all of the benefits of a public gun range without any of the hassles. Particularly, owning and operating a personal gun range in Texas is the best way to maximize the range experience. While investment might be somewhat high, long-term investment surely can make things a lot cheaper in the long run. Not to mention, the crowd and availability are all privy to the owner’s (as well as legislation, but that’s obvious) discretion.
The most important thing to take away from this is that building and running a Texas gun range is a lot easier granted everything checks out. It can offer a better all-around experience while costing much less in the long run. Here is everything you need to know about building a personal gun range.
Why build your own range?
If you are already thinking about the potential benefits to owning your own shooting range, then you are in luck. However, the path from A to B on building a personal range is not a cake walk. It is a serious investment of time as well as money. The long-term money saving potential is quite high and depending on the size of the at-home gun range, it may even rival many public ranges. The more you take time off to shoot in general, the more you will naturally offset the cost of public ranges after deciding to go private. That means, the more you shoot, the more a personal shooting range will benefit you.
Many public ranges are riddled with limiting rules. This makes more unconventional shooting practices more difficult to develop. Granted, the structure of a shooting range’s rule system is designed to ensure the safety of anyone in or around it, so not all of them are bad. Safety is of the utmost importance in any recreational shooting facility, and that should be no different with a private gun range. However, owning the range will definitely come with the ability to create a set of rules tailored to the purposes of the range.
A little more convenience and money-saving never hurt anyone, but building a Texas gun range is also great for those who want their range experience to be tailored perfectly for the kind of shooting they want to do. Maybe the local range does not have a marksman range or does not have a great competition setup. When you choose to build your own shooting range, as long as it is safe and within legal rights, it will be exactly to your design.
Texas Gun Range Laws
The <a title="Texas State Fair Concealed Carry Policy: An In-Depth Look” href=”https://ltctrainingtexas.com/texas-state-fair-concealed-carry-policy/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>state of Texas has laws that are generally lenient, looking towards specific counties and municipalities to govern zoning requirements for gun ranges and firearm/ explosion discharges. This means that municipalities in the state of Texas have a lot of freedom when creating zoning requirements, with legislation directly addressing this freedom to make sure it is in accordance with state legislation. That means, in order to get started building a private gun range, the first step is to research the municipal/ county regulations where the range will be built. This will give insight into a lot of things like location, zoning, and hours of operation.
What’s great about the Texas regulation of gun ranges is that because they are regulated at such a low level, it is much easier to amend established legislation. Because of this, it is very important to know your rights regarding firearms, as well as the rights of your city or county to make sure regulations are in line with state law.
Outdoor Range regulations:
Outdoor gun ranges typically carry a greater deal of versatility than indoor ranges, while also carrying a great margin of operational risks. No walls or ceilings means that target options are expanded, meaning greater care must be taken into consideration regarding noise and distance. Outdoor ranges provide access to a wider variety of vertical shooting targets like traps, skeets, sporting clays and clay pigeons. Each municipality must have a set of regulations regarding these factors.
Lot size: regulations will be set in place setting terms on the minimum property size requirements for the construction and operation of a private outdoor range. This may include other areas considered to be dangerous due to the accumulation of used rounds.
Location: Municipalities will divide land in for occupational purposes and utilization. This means that the municipality may regulate where a gun range can be built. It may even be that the municipality will regulate the orientation of the range in relation to the sun.
Safety: county or municipal governments may set terms on the safety measures required for outdoor gun ranges, including but not limited to the use of wind flags specialized backstops/ berms
Construction: The State of Texas provides specific guidance on the construction and maintenance requirements for both public and private shooting ranges, however, municipalities are permitted to provide more requirements that exceed the state standards. This covers almost everything from the bays to the live areas and potentially more.
The discharge of firearms is of particular consideration as it is both the nature of its projectile and noise that are in question. Gun ranges that are outside are more susceptible to noise complaints especially if the range is near a populated area. Misfired rounds may also find their way into areas outside of the range; a phenomenon that does not occur in indoor ranges.
This can typically make things much more difficult for people who are within regulation to construct a personal gun range. The looming threat of noise complaints may be what eventually causes the municipality to step in and shut down the range. Locations with a more widely dispersed population are perfect for outdoor gun ranges and those able to build in locations like this will typically experience the most autonomy/ freedom.
Indoor Range Regulations:
Indoor gun ranges are less versatile than outdoor ranges because they are typically smaller in comparison. Because they are walled and have ceilings, there is limited verticality by nature in private indoor ranges. Where the benefit lies in regard to indoor ranges is their ability to suppress the noise of discharging firearms. Not to mention, there is a severe reduction to the risk of stray projectiles causing damage to those outside of the confines of the range.
Another benefit of the indoor range is that it helps to create a more controlled shooting environment. Controlled lighting, air conditioning, and ventilation are all factors that succeed in influencing both the shooting experience and the trajectory of the projectiles compared to the beating sun, gusts of wind, and shifting natural light of the outside world. Regulations by municipalities will typically cover these criteria:
Lead Poisoning: The addressing of environmental lead contamination is an added risk because an indoor range may be located in a more densely populated area. While mainly for public ranges, these regulations may influence the operation of private ranges as well.
Construction: The design of the building must have fulfilled certain preventive measures in regard to the stray projectiles. Things like wall thickness and materials will be found in the criteria regarding the construction of indoor ranges.
Safety: A Texas municipality may require certain other measures to be taken for safety reasons. These may just amount to the regulation of the municipality on top of what basic criteria are set by the state. Certain backstops or berms may be required before the range is approved.
Maintenance: Because of the unique hazards that come with a private indoor shooting range, a local government may decide to require additional maintenance standards for the safety of range users. Considerations for the cleanliness of vent and electrical systems will typically be number one on these lists.
The prospect of constructing a Texas indoor range is promising as they can be constructed in locations of both high and low population densities. While this is the case, the from-scratch construction of a lawful indoor shooting range is typically more expensive than its outdoor counterpart.
What Backstop should you use?
A backstop is the most important part of a shooting range setup whether it is indoor or outdoor. More leeway may be given to outdoor ranges, as a wide variety of materials are typically suitable for use in them. The main concerns with the backstop are how well it prevents ricochet, shrapnel, and its height. Materials like wood, concrete, and dirt are great for use in ranges and come in a variety of price ranges. In some cases, the landscape may provide adequate protection from stray bullets in that the point where one shoot is well enough below ground level.
When it comes to indoor ranges, it is more imperative to research the regulations on the kind of walls, thickness, and materials that can be used for a backstop. These must be able to prevent shrapnel and must be sturdy and thick enough. If in an area with a dense population, it may be good to prioritize noise suppression as well.
How should I structure my private shooting range?
A shooting range must be designed safely around the recreational shooting of firearms. The safety of the ones using the range as well as those not using the range is of the utmost importance, especially from a regulatory standpoint. While this obviously incorporates the safe discharge of firearms towards a backstop, the structure of the shooting range should be optimal for seamless transitions from live to inactive periods of shooting. An area for the transport and temporary storage of firearms not in use will make things a lot safer.
While the majority of the range is going to be meant for shooting, making a clear distinction between where discharges can and can’t take place will make things safer should more people be using the range. And in the case of multiple people using the range at one time, having distinct areas where they can fire will reduce the risk of accidents by a wide margin. These points are even more important in indoor ranges as depending on the construction requirements there may only be one direction to shoot toward due to the building access and wall thickness.
Signs and designated times for the discharge of firearms may help increase the user-friendliness and safety of the range. However, what’s also important is the environmental factor. Lead is a toxic metal, and its build-up can be dangerous to human health. Developing a method of recovering spent projectiles in an easier way will help keep the range safe and clean while increasing the convenience of an otherwise tedious task.
For gun enthusiasts, building a private gun range can both save money and heighten the experience of the wonderful recreation of shooting. Texas Range owners may come up with convenient designs regulated by local governments, providing a convenient road for the amendment of established laws to better suit their needs. While not a cheap investment, private ranges are often great for saving money in the long run.
Paying attention to the state, county, and municipal regulations on the operation of Texas gun ranges is important, as much of the information will provide more nuanced information about the construction of ranges within their borders. And lastly, while mostly free to the aspect of the design, ensuring the safety of all in or around the range is of the highest importance. Now that you have gained some knowledge on how to build a private shooting range, be sure to check our other entries to become an expert on owning a Texas gun range!