Several factors determine a firearms range, including environmental conditions, the weapon and the ammunition used. These factors can be narrowed down to two main variables, air resistance and muzzle velocity. High-resistance air will slow down bullets, while thin air will increase effective range. Lastly, weather conditions affect the effectiveness of a weapon by affecting its accuracy. This means that the temperature, humidity and wind will affect effective range.
The distance to which a bullet can travel with high accuracy is considered a “long range.” Long-range shooting can be accomplished with any type of firearm, but most people prefer a rifle or pistol. Centerfire intermediate rifles, for example, are considered long-range, while rimfire rifles can reach greater distances than other types of guns. Bullets traveling further will experience longer flight times, causing vapor trails and bullet traces.
While most attention has been focused on the safety risks associated with shooting guns, decades of research have shown that shooters are also exposing themselves to substantial health risks, including lead exposure and lead poisoning. In 1994, Dr. Ozonoff noted high blood lead levels among shooters. Firearms ranges are one of the most common unregulated sources of lead exposure for adults. Ultimately, there’s a need to improve the safety of firearms ranges and to protect the health of shooters.
Another factor that affects the safety of shooting ranges is the number of gunshots and bullets. Since outdoor shooting ranges are often open and unprotected, people outside the range may be irritated by the sound of gunfires. If the range is close to a residential area, it may receive noise complaints. Besides the location, an outdoor range can only be open during the day, so that the noise will not disturb nearby residents.
In addition to the safety issues, environmental conditions can also affect the environment. Outdoor ranges are often located in vast plots of land, with multiple shooting stations. Shooters can also use moving vehicles to shoot from a vehicle. The presence of lead dust and bullets makes it difficult to keep the shooting range free of lead contamination. Not only will these materials harm the environment, but they can also cause damage to wildlife ecosystems and the environment.
As previously mentioned, bullet velocity is important because it determines the nature of wounding. Low-velocity handgun bullets, for example, lose a significant amount of kinetic energy once they reach 100 yards, while high-velocity military.308 rounds still have considerable kinetic energy at 500 yards. Meanwhile, hunting rifles have larger bullet mass to maximize penetration and kill large game animals from farther distances.