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March 7, 2019

Firearms Range Design — The Key to New Shooter Interaction

By Jonathan Golli and Chris Sciulli, AE7 Planners & Architects

Like all businesses, firearms ranges are always looking to expand their market. In order to bring in a new crowd, today’s range owners are beginning to build luxury gun ranges, sometimes jokingly known as “guntry clubs.” Added amenities such as members’ lounges and easy access to espresso aren’t just frivolous additions, they are a part of what separates what are quickly becoming destination clubs from traditional ranges.

Keystone Shooting Center - VIP Lounge

Research shows there is great market potential in branching out. In recent years, for example, gun ownership by women has risen 20 percent faster than compared to men over the same period of time. Yet women are 15 percent less likely to visit shooting centers than men — and it’s not hard to see where your potential lies.

The following considerations can help any gun range attract a broader audience to the shooting sports. We’ve tested many of these ideas in our design for the Keystone Shooting Center in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which caters to new shooters, women and disabled vets, and the success of that facility underscores their validity.


The first step in attracting new shooters is locating your range in an area where these potential customers already exist. If a range is easy to access near retail shopping centers, for example, guests don’t have to build their whole day around a visit. They can stop by to shoot for a quick half-hour or make a day trip out of a visit, shaping their experience more. Additionally, passersby going about their day will have a chance to see the range, and just that visibility alone can cause them to consider visiting.

Keystone Shooting Center


First Impressions

A good location works best if the building itself is attractive. When people can clearly see into your business, they come into your business. Large windows let people know what awaits them, and that space is, ideally, a clean, bright, welcoming one that invites them to explore further. Natural lighting, windows and color make a huge difference in how guests will experience the range. Dark, rugged decor may turn some people away, while ample light and a soft, warm color palette create an open and sophisticated feel that appeals to many. Consider working with an experienced architect who will be able to guide you toward achieving a look that encourages new audiences to enter your facility.

In addition to the cosmetic aspects of the range, you’ll want to examine and likely adjust the ways visitors to your range move through your facility. For instance, organizing the retail area so that merchandise is placed in display cases throughout the area, rather than in just one dedicated space, facilitates customer interaction, especially if there are models on display that customers can handle without assistance. Having modular displays also means that the layout of the area can be changed as needed.

Sound Control

For new shooters, being surrounded by firearms can be intimidating, so it is vital that first-time guests feel safe. But even for experienced shooters, the quiet of the retail area can offer respite. Proper soundproofing is critical to keeping the sounds of gunshots to a minimum. Customers in the retail area should hardly be able to hear what goes on in the shooting bays.

When we designed Keystone, to ensure range noise does not enter the retail space, the pathway between the two areas of the building is a sound-lock vestibule with electronic door hardware that prevents both doors from being open at the same time. Sensors unlock the door to the range once shooters enter from the retail space, and that door is closed to prevent a sonic “short circuit.”

The action on most indoor ranges fronted by retail stores is viewable from within the store or other observation positions. With Keystone, we provided a sound- and bulletproof window between the retail area and the first shooting bay to allow guests to familiarize themselves with the action of shooting. Guests can watch people shoot from a safe, quiet position, and this has the added benefit of helping them learn what to expect if they decide to try out the range.

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