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Folding Knives for Law Enforcement
With the first two columns under your belt, you should have a good handle on how many firing lanes you need in the new range and how long they should be. You should know if you are going with an indoor range, an outdoor range, or a combination of both. You should also have some idea about additional rooms for lockers, cleaning areas, gunsmithing and classrooms.
No firearms program is complete without classroom work, and having one adjacent to the range is really worth the money. Because we had no readily accessible classrooms available, we built a room big enough to sit 100 students at tables. We also installed removable walls so we can have one large room, three smaller rooms, or any combination thereof. We also placed a computer and LCD projector in each classroom for multi-media purposes.
Also consider area for locker-rooms, showers, break-rooms and offices. One of the things that I think we did right was to add a room strictly for weapons cleaning. In that room, we have stainless steel counters, shelving, and compressed air. It has worked out well for cleaning weapons after a day on the range. You also need to think about storage. A general rule of thumb is to plan for storage, and then add about 20% so you have enough. Either that, or just let your wife plan the closet space.
What can you do if you have no personal firearms instructor experience and are faced with these decisions? Gather a couple of your most experienced and trusted firearms instructors and turn them loose. This includes instructors from neighboring agencies who will (or may) be using the range. Let them come up with a plan for the range.
They probably shouldn’t be designing it, unless you have a firearms instructor that also has an engineering or architectural degree, but you can bet they will have some good ideas about size and what should be included. Because the bottom line is your responsibility, you might have to rein them in a little.
One of the biggest decisions you must make is the vendor for your range equipment. You will have to decide on targeting systems, bullet traps, and the steel that will keep rounds from leaving your range. Hand in hand with that decision—and one that is as large as or larger than the range equipment vendor—is who will design and build your ventilation system. You must have someone who is experienced and knows what he is doing; the health of your officers depends on that system.
We had some experience with a range equipment vendor on the old range. Action Target in Utah had previously sold and installed a target system on our old range, we had a good relationship with their representatives and were pleased with their equipment. In fairness, many such outfits exist. Do your homework.
I did some research on bullet traps as I had no experience with that aspect of a range. Our old trap was a dirt berm. I was looking for something reliable and as maintenance free as possible. Action Target’s trap fit the bill perfectly. Safe, reliable, and probably as maintenance free as you can get, it did not take long to decide to go with its product.
That decision made the ventilation vendor decision much easier. Action Target had a good history with a range ventilation system vendor near Chicago. Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning has built military and commercial ranges throughout the world and did an outstanding job on our range. Finding that sort of company is essential to having a safe range and will make the whole building process go much easier.
One more aspect of range equipment that you will have to consider is a sound-baffling system. An enclosed range with no baffling system will beat the heck out of not only your range instructors, but also the students. A baffling system will reduce the concussion of those weapons going off considerably and is well worth the expense. Again, Action Target pointed us in the direction of a vendor for that material.
Keith Mehlin is the chief of the Council Bluff, IA Police Department. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, 182nd Session. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Published in Tactical Response, Nov/Dec 2006
Rating : 10.0
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