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Q: Safe design height for high-powered rifle range target berm. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Safe design height for high-powered rifle range target berm.
Category: Sports and Recreation
Asked by: sternohead-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 25 Jul 2002 22:03 PDT
Expires: 24 Aug 2002 22:03 PDT
Question ID: 45310
How tbo design a highpowered rifle shooting range: what should the
target berm height be for a 50 yard, a 100 yard, and a 300 yard range
near an inhabited area? I need references that can be used before a
zoning commission or a judge.

Request for Question Clarification by voyager-ga on 26 Jul 2002 01:48 PDT
Hi sternohead!

Could you please tell us which country and - if applicable - which
state you are living in?

Thank you,

Subject: Re: Safe design height for high-powered rifle range target berm.
Answered By: waldo-ga on 22 Aug 2002 23:21 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

As a Google Researcher there is the tendency to want to answer the
question exactly. So I’m tempted to work out the geometry of the three
distances you suggest, but as you will see it is a mute point. The
reason is that you are purposing a range in an inhabited area and the
success for the venture depends on convincing a regulatory body.


According to “Baffles, Berms and Backstops” By David Luke, Range
Technical Team Advisor National Rifle Association “A minimum height of
15 feet is acceptable but 20 to 25 feet is recommended.”

However that said, the publication goes on to say, “Backstops and side
berms do not remove the requirement to include a safety fan.”

Any range that allows “blue sky” must be designed with a safety fan –
a controlled area - to prevent injury in the event of accidental
discharge. Although the angle of trajectory required to clear a 25’
berm at the 50 yard, 100 yard, and 300 yard ranges will effect the
distance a bullet travels, at the 300 yard distance a .30 caliber
match round will sail over the berm in a relatively flat trajectory.
Given that the round has potential of traveling up to 15,000 feet,
that's 14,100 feet beyond the berm – just under 3 miles. That’s
probably more real estate than you were planning on.

Safety baffles 

The idea is to restrict the area were an accidental discharge might
travel which in turn reduces the size of the required safety fan. With
proper baffling you can reduce the size of the fan to the perimeter of
the range. However, the drawback is that it will require engineering –
and probably a professional consultant – to design a range that will
be safe for the shooter. With more baffles comes a higher the risk of
ricochets or flying debris from unengineered baffle material.

The article mention above goes into detail about the design
considerations, as does “Design Criteria for Shooting Ranges” By Clark
Vargas. URL’s for the publications are listed below under Resources.

Zoning Commission or a Judge.

I’ve managed projects in the building trades for years and the
regulatory bodies are referred to as the “Authority Having
Jurisdiction” or AHJ – Federal, State, County, and State all have
their say. My bet is that the AHJ’s governing your area will want you
to get a permit to build the range and they will want engineered
drawings to be submitted for plan approval.

In addition there is the EPA; lead is hazardous waste. You may have to
file an environmental impact plan. Not to mention the possible noise

Vargas captures this nicely:

“Before you can get to range construction, a master plan is a must. Go
to a professional designer to help you. You're probably going to have
more shooting range in mind than you can afford.

After that, come up with a financial plan. Your financial plan is your
reality. It separates needs from wants. Your master plan shows your
ultimate development, but your financial plan tells you how far you
can go budget-wise, or how to stage your construction until you can
achieve your total master plan.”

No range is failsafe. A comprehensive plan must be developed to
maintain the safety of participants and the neighbors. You will go a
long way to getting the ‘AHJ’ on your side by developing an aggressive
safety plan. You will find guidelines for plans at the resources
listed below.

My experience with building inspectors has lead me to take the advice
of Sun Tzu in 'The Art of War', "Know what your opponent is thinking
before he does".

If you would like clarification on any of the points please request
them, I will be glad to oblige.



This comprehensive site contains the articles listed above as well as
just about everything else pertaining to shooting ranges, look under
Reference Manual/Facilities Management -

You may enjoy checking this out - NEW 300M RANGE AT ROTORUA UNDER

Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Range

Great idea for handling lead removal

This may be a good resource for meeting potential public safety
sternohead-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
answer was sussinct and had references Thank you it was just the answer I needed

Subject: Re: Safe design height for high-powered rifle range target berm.
From: pattisw-ga on 26 Jul 2002 02:22 PDT
Subject: Re: Safe design height for high-powered rifle range target berm.
From: wengland-ga on 26 Jul 2002 07:44 PDT
Assuming you are in the USA, you should (must!) contact the NRA.  They
have a team of exprets that can help you.  They also have books at
their online store:

You should also contact your state rifle association, and any area
ranges.  They will be able to give you pointers about local laws on
range construction.

NRA Range Technical Team:

NRA Range Development program:

NRA Shooting Range Services:

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