Indoor Range Ammo Restrictions
Saw on @gunnuts.net where they were having a discussion about indoor range ammo restrictions. I’m sure anybody who has shot at an indoor range has seen them, anywhere from very little, to outlandish. Here’s what I had to say about it.
As somebody who works at an indoor range (which has ammo restrictions), and has been to a number of them across the country, I’d like to weigh in a bit.
Yes, this is something ranges impose to make sure they get brass cases. In our case, we take the range brass and have it reloaded, and our guy really hates steel and aluminum cases. Yes, a magnet will pick out the steel, but when you have 15K+ cases in a giant pile, how much do you really expect get without taking the time to spread the cases out?
This is where it can get sticky, depending on what backstop that particular range uses. We use a Caswell Grantrap, which works quite well, but you have to treat it right. We don’t allow anything that sticks to a magnet just as a precaution. It is true that the majority of Wolf/Tula/MFS, etc ammo is a bi-metal jacket, which poses no more danger than a standard copper jacket, but when somebody brings in a mystery can full of steel case/magnetic projectile rounds for his 7.62×25, we have no way of knowing if it’s bi-metal jacket, or steel core, which would MOST LIKELY be contained by our backstop. However, if they start shooting things that are not designed to take repeated direct hits, like the walls, ceiling or target carriers (which are not cheap if you’ve ever priced one), things can go downhill before you can stop them. We don’t have the time or tools to start cutting everybody’s bullets in half to see what they’re made out of.
Now, about lead bullets vs. air quality. Generally, ranges are not worried about air quality at the backstop, doesn’t take much to realize that it’s not going to be safe to breathe pretty much no matter what you do. What we are worried about is air quality at the firing line. Lock & Load doesn’t restrict lead bullets, although we do warn that if ANY ammo is extremely smokey, it will be pulled. We have other customers (at many times young children) as well as employees to worry about breathing that stuff in on a consistent basis if our air handler system can’t pull it downrange quick enough. Decent quality 22 LR and other lead bullets don’t smoke a whole lot more than regular jacketed bullets at the pace most people shoot. The problems start with poor-quality bullets, or when somebody starts to fire quickly (which BTW, we don’t have a restriction on as long as you’re hitting the target). The other problems lie in the filter system. Our range uses a 3-stage filtration system, including a HEPA at the end. Let’s just say that a HEPA system for a 3250+ Sq ft open space is NOT inexpensive to operate. The quicker the filters get dirty, the worse the air quality gets, and the sooner we have to spend the cash to have the filters changed.
Now, if a (non-green) range tells you that you have to shoot ammo that you bought there (in your gun, not theirs), that’s when I start getting a little upset!