Once a range opens for business, it’s up to the owners to enforce a myriad of regulations so the facility runs smoothly and offers members the safest, most enjoyable sport shooting experience possible. Learning about the regulations for starting a shooting range will help you stay out of troubles. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, shooting ranges are more popular than ever. New facilities are opening from coast to coast at a healthy pace. Rangers usually have no problem finding members, as long wait lists attest, but that’s the easy part.
Shooting range regulations mandated by federal, state or municipal laws should be addressed first. Your range must comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations, as well as those written by other agencies concerned with conservation and environmental issues. Specifically, shooting range noise limits, safety precautions and, importantly, the adverse impact of lead bullets on soil around outdoor shooting ranges are all topics that must be addressed when you draw up your range’s regulations. If you have no legal council or oversight on your shooting range business team, contact the National Rifle Association or the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Ask for assistance formulating your range’s legal regulations so nothing falls through the cracks.
Your range may be designed for a variety of shooting experiences: rifle, pistol, trap, skeet, sporting clay or a mix, so begin this series of regulations by spelling out the types of activity your range permits and those it prohibits. Reiterate age restrictions. Stipulate rules under which a shooter may apply for membership, the length of that membership and renewal parameters. Add gun permit language if you allow members to supply their own weapons. Include days and hours of operation, plus holidays on which your range closes. Also define safety rules in great detail as they apply to your operation so you avoid liability issues should there be future mishaps.
Your shooting range is a business — thus financial matters require separate regulations. Address guidelines that cover membership fees, payment due dates and types of payment you’ll accept. For example, if you plan to offer membership finance plans, you must state that. Importantly, emphasize fines you’re within your legal right to levy for violations and suspensions so there are no misunderstandings if such situations occur. A member must know all the rules when he joins, so look upon your regulations as a way of protecting everyone, including you. One of the best ways to ensure that members are apprised of your financial regulations is to print them on your membership application, so new members know precisely what their shooting range fee covers.
Forget to formulate operational policies and regulations impacting social etiquette on your new shooting range and you could wind up with problems at the shooting line. Appoint a range master to oversee all shooting activity; that way, you literally have someone on the front lines to make sure members follow all of your facility’s rules. Your social regulations should cover everything from whether guests may be allowed on the premises to dispute resolution between members on the firing line. Safety mandates, such as requiring ear and eye protection every time a member picks up a firearm, are critical. Spell out regulations related to clearing and benching firearms so that shooters know your specific rules for securing their weapons after they’ve finished shooting.