Gunfire is noisy business, and the men and women who own and manage shooting ranges – both indoor and outdoor – are beginning to take soundproofing measures to protect the hearing of their employees and customers, and avoid complaints from neighbors.
Shooting ranges are constructed with safety in mind; solid surface walls, ceilings and floors create hard, reflective surfaces that exasperate noise in the form of echo and reverberation – exactly the types of noise that results when gunshots are bouncing around a hard surface space.
Gunshots register high in decibel levels, meaning high noise levels. When the firing range is indoors, the noise levels go up exponentially. For this reason, gun club members are required to wear hearing protection, since gunshot noise is directly related to hearing loss. The risk increases for those members who practice frequently, and for employees, as does the risk for other noise related health problems, including elevated blood pressure, depression, and other problems.
Gun ranges are isolated, to varying degrees, from neighbors. However, that is not to say that neighboring homes and businesses are immune to the sounds emanating from the local firing range. A common problem for gun range owners and managers occurs when the isolation factor is inadequate, and shooting noise leaks out of buildings, or is carried from an outdoor range. Not only are the decibel levels problematic, the repetitiveness of the fired guns over a long period of time can drive neighbors to distraction. More often than not, neighbors in close enough proximity to the gun range will file complaints and begin a course of action to drive the gun range out of the community.
Whether or not they’re successful at ridding their community of a gun range, they can certainly make operating a gun range difficult and expensive. Legal costs, court appearances, and time spent trying to iron out a compromise that both sides can live with can take a toll. But as noise barrier and noise absorption materials improve, there are options for creating a quieter environment both inside and out, one that will appease the neighbors without interfering with operations.
Noise barrier and sound absorption materials have become highly sophisticated in recent years, and more and more gun ranges now have noise abatement material — whether it is noise blocking fencing or indoor noise deadening material — in place that has dramatically decreased the noise problem, both on site and within the community.
Another problem firing ranges have is the lead particles and dust that accumulates on walls and fixtures. Gun range owners and managers need to choose sound abatement material that does not absorb the lead residue, such as open or closed cell foam rubber. Sound panels manufactured by Acoustiblok, Inc. can be purchased with a micro-fine stainless steel dust filter that prevents the lead from accumulating on the soundproofing material, making it easier to remove the accumulated lead residue and comply with Occupational health laws.
By installing noise deadening materials strategically, gun ranges can improve safety for staff and guests by:
Decreasing the impact of the sounds of gunshots.
Protecting members and staff from gunshot noise.
Reducing reverberation and echo for improved sound quality.
Creating a sound barrier between the firing range and neighboring community.