There are more than 21,000 — and counting! — firearms laws on the books across the country. Add to that varying policies from ranges and clubs, and things get confusing pretty quickly. While we can’t provide definitive legal advice for every situation, we can touch on some of the most common shooting range questions. In the end, you are responsible, so be sure to double-check local laws and range policies before you go.
How Much Does It Cost to Shoot at a Shooting Range?
Different shooting ranges have different pricing models. Most indoor ranges charge by the hour. Prices vary, though most average about $20 per hour for use of a single shooting lane. If you’re going with a friend or significant other, in most cases you can share a single lane and take turns.
Outdoor shooting ranges tend to offer day or half-day rates. More travel, set up and take down mean that it’s not as easy to pop in and out for a quick shooting session. Most standard outdoor facilities offer rates less than $50 per day.
Be sure to inquire about memberships. Even public ranges that rent shooting lane usage by the hour normally offer monthly or annual discount plans. Some newer “guntry club” ranges offer annual memberships with lots of extra perks, including discounts, lounge access, reservations and exclusive shooting areas.
Can Anyone Go to a Shooting Range?
It’s up to the operator of the facility to allow patrons to shoot. The primary consideration is always safety, so while anyone can attend, if the owner feels that there may be safety risks, he or she may bar someone from shooting.
Do I Need a Gun to Shoot at a Shooting Range or Will the Range Provide Them for Me?
One of the great things about shooting ranges is that you can try a variety of rental firearms before you buy. No, you can’t take them out of the store, but most ranges have a large selection of firearms for rent to use at the facility. You can plan on spending $10 or so to try one of the range’s firearms, but you must also buy the ammo. Ranges that also sell firearms may credit your rental fees back toward the purchase of a firearm when you find one you like.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Go to a Shooting Range? Do You Have to Be 18 Years Old?
While there are laws that govern the minimum age to purchase rifles and handguns, the question of minimum ages at a shooting range depends on other factors. These include safety, range policy and insurance limitations. Since you are not purchasing a firearm, there is more flexibility.
First and foremost, if someone is not old and mature enough to shoot a firearm, his or her only business at a range should be watching from a safe observation area. However, ranges with the appropriate liability insurance allow younger shooters to take part under proper and qualified adult supervision. Since there are too many range policy variables, it’s always best to call ahead and ask if there are any minimum age requirements for unsupervised and supervised shooting.
Can Children Shoot at Ranges With Their Parents?
In many cases, children can shoot while under the careful supervision of parents or guardians. Shooting ranges have to carry liability insurance to protect against accidents of negligence by patrons, so the question of whether children are allowed to shoot usually depends on their policy. Just call ahead to explain your particular situation.
Remember, just because children might be allowed to shoot doesn’t necessarily mean that they should. Be sure that your child is responsible enough to operate a firearm under supervision. Also, be sure that you are comfortable enough with your level of safety knowledge to safely teach and supervise. If your child is new to shooting, outdoor ranges might be the best place to start, as there is more space (and the noise from other shooters is not nearly as intimidating).
Do I Need a FOID Card to Go to a Shooting Range?
If you live in an oppressed state (Illinois, are you listening?) you’ll need a Firearms Owners Identification card to shoot at a range, even if you are renting one of its firearms. Sticking with Illinois as the example case, you must be 18 and have a FOID to rent a long gun and 21 with a FOID to rent a handgun.
Can You Shoot a Shotgun at a Shooting Range?
There are ranges designed for shotguns and aerial target shooting. Skeet, trap and sporting clay ranges exist for this very reason! However, most rifle and pistol ranges prohibit shooting airborne targets for safety reasons. Rifle and pistol ranges use carefully placed backstops to catch bullets, but once guns are aimed in the air, those backstops become useless.
However, many outdoor and even some indoor ranges allow the use of shotguns using certain ammunition types. For example, indoor ranges usually don’t want you shooting pellet loads where big patterns of lead shot can damage target hanger systems. However, they may allow the use of solid projectiles like slugs. Outdoor ranges are a little more flexible and may allow you to shoot pellet loads — provided you don’t shoot at aerial targets.
If You Have a Felony or Misdemeanor on Your Record, Can You Go to a Shooting Range?
If you have a felony conviction, you cannot own or possess a firearm. Shooting at a shooting range, even if you don’t own and bring your firearm, arguably puts you in possession of a firearm for a limited time. While laws vary everywhere, the answer is almost certainly no.
How Much Does a Shooting Range Cost to Build?
Shooting ranges are expensive. Very expensive.
First and foremost, ranges have to invest lots of money in backstop systems to ensure that stray rounds don’t exit the premises. For indoor ranges, that means sophisticated bullet trap systems. For outdoor ranges, lots of earth moving is required to build tall berms that serve as backstops.
Second, and especially for indoor ranges, filtration and lead-removal systems have to be installed. Fragmented projectiles and burned primer residue create dangerous and toxic lead particles that have to be filtered out of the air, floor and backstop. That costs money.
Many ranges are moving to sophisticated target systems that place targets downrange mechanically and sometimes even score shots electronically. The newest generation of “guntry club” ranges also include luxurious clubhouse facilities. When you add all that up, it’s not unusual for an indoor range to cost between five and 15 million dollars to build.