The Definitive Glossary of Shooting Range Terminology

We’ve all been there, you’re in the market for a new product or service and suddenly you find yourself drowning in an endless bowl of alphabet soup and inundated with industry jargon and complex terminology. It’s situations like these that make it difficult, if not impossible, to compare one product to another and ultimately make the best, most sound decision needed to meet your needs.

And if you’re in the market for a new shooting range, you know exactly what we mean.

CoverSix Shelters is one of the world’s leading producers of hardened and robust facilities for the defense and security industry, and we have compiled the following glossary of shooting range terminology to help demystify the information you may encounter in your research process and provide you with the foundation you need you choose the product and manufacturer that’s right for you.

An A-Z of shooting range jargon

AR500 – AR500 steel is a high-carbon steel alloy that is used to provide ballistic containment within Modular Small Arms Ranges (MSAR). A hard-wearing and abrasion-resistant steel with a surface hardness of between 477-534 BHN, AR500 plates should be used to form the MSAR floor, walls, and baffles.  

Barricade – A barricade provides range users with an extremely functional training aid that can be used for cover and concealment drills as well as exercises involving firing from unconventional positions. 

Bullet Trap – Located at the end of the firing range, a bullet trap is a device designed to safely capture and collect the majority of projectiles fired downrange. Two popular options are deceleration and rubber berm traps. Deceleration traps funnel projectiles into a circular chamber where they are slowed down before eventually falling into a collection chamber. Rubber berm traps capture projectiles, whole and intact, within a mound of finely chopped rubber.  

Container Range – The terms “containerized range” and “modular range” are often used interchangeably, but doing so is incorrect. 

Containerized ranges are built from a modified ISO shipping container and have been around a long time. They have their benefits, but they also have a number of limitations. The primary drawback with these ranges is that when something is repurposed from an ISO shipping container, the builder is limited by the ISO specifications of those containers. 

Modular Ranges (such as the Trident DLX, EXT, and MBL) are scratch built from the steel frame up, allowing them to vary greatly in size to meet the end user’s exact training requirements. These ranges can have variable lane widths, increased ceiling heights, fully open tactical ranges, multiple targetry options, and much more. 

Db – Db stands for decibel, a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound. Shooting ranges are particularly noisy places and mitigation methods are needed to prevent excessive noise breakout from the range and to control reverberation within the range. 

DCU – A Dust Collection Unit or DCU is connected to the bullet trap and draws dust out of the deceleration chamber into a sealed and easily transportable containment system. 

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an agency of the United States federal government designed to protect natural resources. The EPA regulates how lead is disposed of and how toxic air pollutants generated by a shooting range are dealt with. 

Firing Line – The firing line is the position from which range users fire their weapons. The line typically extends the entire width of the range and is divided into a number of individual firing positions or lanes. Ranges can either have fixed or tactical firing lines. 

Fixed firing line ranges only allow firing from a single line on the range which means that users are not permitted to advance beyond this line to discharge their weapons. To alter firing distances, overhead target retrievers will move targets away from, or towards, the firer. 

Tactical firing lines allow users the freedom to move from the furthest-most firing line and engage targets downrange. 

HEPA – High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) is an efficiency standard for air filters. Proper  HEPA filtration systems are needed to ensure that exhausted range air exceeds NIOSH, EPA, and OSHA air quality standards. 

IBC – The International Building Code (IBC) was developed by the International Code Council, as a case code standard to both the health and safety standards of buildings. It is used by most jurisdictions in the United States. 

ISO 9001 – ISO 9001 is a quality management system that is used to help ensure that the needs of customers are met, including all statutory and regulatory requirements of a product or service.

JSP 403 – Joint Service Publication 403 is the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) technical standard for small arms infantry weapon system ranges. It provides practical guidance on design, construction, and maintenance standards of ranges to ensure realistic but safe training in firing and the best possible use of the range space. It is the leading standard across the UK and the Commonwealth. 

Laminar Air Flow - Laminar air flow is defined as air moving at the same speed and in the same direction, with no or minimal cross over of air streams. What this means for a modular or containerized shooting range is that a wall of air from floor to ceiling moves across the firing line at the same speed with no eddies, backflows, or dead spots.  

NEC – The National Electrical Code (NEC) sets the foundation for electrical safety in residential, commercial, and industrial occupancies in the United States. (CEC is a similar code in Canada.)

OSHA – The Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United State Department of Labor that sets and enforces standards to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. To help ensure a safe range environment and reduce the risk users are exposed to unsafe levels of air-bourne level modular shooting ranges should be designed to help range operators comply with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1025. 

Radial Diffuser – Supply air is introduced into the range behind the firing line through a radial diffuser. A radial diffuser is fitted at ceiling height and disperses air into the range in a 180-degree radial pattern which ensures a laminar flow at the firing line. 

Ricochet – A ricochet occurs in a shooting range when a projectile impacts a hard surface and rebounds, bounces, or skips off the surface and can be dangerous when rounds rebound back towards the firer. All hard surfaces within a shoot range should be lined with rubber pane facieses to encapsulate rounds. 

Running Man – A running man target is a moving target which moves laterally across the entire width of the range. Some target manufacturers provide the option of overhead or ground systems which can provide an array of customizable and realistic training scenarios.

SDZ – The Surface Danger Zone (SDZ) is a depiction of the mathematically predicted area a projectile will return to earth either by direct fire or by ricochet. The SDZ is the area extending from a firing point to a distance downrange based on the projectiles fired. This area has specific dimensions that provide a contained area for all fragments resulting from the caliber of weapons fired. The SDZ is not part of a range itself but can extend for several miles beyond it and must be unoccupied when training is occurring and therefore places limitations of the location of new ranges. 

Shooting Stall – Installed at the furthermost firing line, shooting stalls create clear separations between shooting lanes and provide protection against negligent discharges or misaimed shots from adjacent range users. 

UFC 4-179-02 – The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released Unified Facility Criteria (UFC) 4-179-02 Small Arms Range Criteria on March 5th, 2020. Superseding Navy MIL HNDBK 1027/3B and Air Force ETL 11-18, this new UFC provides requirements for all new DoD small arms ranges including modular and relocatable ranges. 

UL752 – UL752 is a U.S. standard, set forth by Underwriters Laboratories. This standard covers materials, devices, and fixtures used to form bullet-resisting barriers. The standard offers eight rating levels for varying ammunitions, caliber and weapons. 

USACE – U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) is a section of the United States Army that oversees and provides engineering services for military and public works. 

Make an Informed Decision

As with any major purchase, being able to understand the information that’s presented to you during your search for a new shooting range is critical to making accurate comparisons, asking appropriate questions, and ultimately making an informed decision. If there is any terminology we have missed, or if there is just something that still has you confused, please don’t hesitate to ask us.

In the meantime, no search is complete until you have checked out CoverSix’s complete line of modular shooting ranges.