Range Types

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Range types

When shooting on a range you should be aware of the three main types of range as the construction will determine what type of round you can shoot. Each range has a set of limits that you have to work within. These are expressed as muzzle energy, speed of the bullet at the muzzle and the calibre of the bullet. You must stay inside these limits as the bullet catchers, back stops etc are only designed to contain bullets up to the limit. Shooting faster or more powerful rounds could see a bullet leaving the range having defeated the bullet catcher.

This can lead to some situations that at first glance can look bizarre. For example at some no danger area ranges you may be banned from shooting .22 magnum rimfire but you can shoot the much more powerful .357 magnum. The reason for this lies in the speed of the bullet. On a range with a limit of 1400 feet per second (ft/s) the .22 magnum exceeds this speed and is therefore banned but the .357 magnum bullet at around 1100 ft/s is within the range limit so is fine to shoot.

No danger area ranges.  A no danger area range means that under normal use bullets cannot leave the range area. When shooting on these ranges no firearm should be raised so the barrel is above the horizontal nor should the barrel be pointed in any direction that would cause a bullet to fall outside the backstop or at any surface likely to cause a ricochet. Shooting can be done from the standing position, kneeling or prone position.  Some ranges limit the positions you can use, so check before you shoot. Many of the firearms used on these ranges are short barrelled such as black powder revolvers. Special care needs to be taken with any short barrelled firearm as it is very easy to point these in the wrong direction.

 This type of range can be further subdivided into Indoor rimfire ranges, Gallery rifle/pistol ranges and Barrack ranges. The 25 yard/meter Indoor rimfire range is, as its name suggests, only used for low power rounds and is limited to a muzzle velocity of 1700ft/s and a muzzle energy of 476 ft/lbs. Although some muzzle loading firearms fall within these range limits the smoke generated is in excess of the normal ventilation  requirements and therefore are banned. It should be noted however that some ranges have been modified to cope with the extra requirements of higher powered rounds or black powder firearms but this is the exception rather than the rule.

The Gallery rifle/pistol range is a range where the range limits permit the use of long barrelled revolvers, some underlever rifles shooting pistol ammunition, black powder firearms and .22 long rifle ammunition. These ranges are outdoor ranges but some do have covered firing points. Whilst some of these ranges are not no danger area ranges the vast majority of them are. Whereas an indoor range is constructed so that an accidental discharge cannot leave the building, the open Gallery rifle/pistol range is not as safe. If a firearm is pointed in the wrong direction and discharged it is possible for the bullet to leave the confines of the range, so particular care should be taken with short barrelled firearms such as revolvers where in cocking them the muzzle may be pointed above the backstop. If the firearm discharged at this time the bullet would leave the range.

The Barrack range is a no danger area range designed to contain full bore rifle bullet (7.62 NATO) and is similar to a walled garden to look at. The design is such that in normal use the bullet cannot leave the range area. These types of ranges are normally only found on military or ex-military bases.

Although these are the main types of no danger area ranges there are some purpose built no danger area ranges that do not fall into any of the above categories. If you are shooting on any range you should be aware of the range limits. If the range is not one of the standard configurations then it is doubly important to find out what they are.

Gallery ranges A gallery range should not be confused with gallery rifles that are shot on gallery/pistol ranges. A gallery range is a range that has firing points every 100 yards, a butts area with a protective mantlet and a backstop behind the targets. This is a limited danger area range which means that the danger area is only big enough to contain ricochets. A bullet aimed over the top or around the sides of the backstop will travel outside the danger area. Most of these ranges are of military construction with many of them still being run by the military. Distances shot over vary between a few hundred yards to 1200 yards plus, but  the average seems to be about 600 yards. The range limit for ranges run by the military is a muzzle velocity of up to 3275 ft/s, a muzzle energy of 5160 ft/lbs and a calibre no greater than .577. There are also one or two calibres that are banned from this type of range although they stay within the range limits. This is due to a revised danger area template for certain cartridges - the .338 Lapua for example.

Field ranges A field range has little or no constructed features; basically they are a large area of land designated as a range. Because the range may not have a backstop behind the targets the area of land has to be big enough so that any round fired will be contained within its boundaries. Some ranges of this type are situated near the coast and use the sea as part of the fallout area. There are very few ranges of this type in Britain because of the problems providing a large enough danger area. Range limits can vary widely from  artillery rounds down. Should you become interested in shooting very high power rifles such as the .50 calibre Browning then these, with a few exceptions, will be the types of ranges that you will be using.