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Sports Construction - April 2004

Shoot House
by K. Robert Wendel

The lead is flying at the the newly opened, $8.5 million Scottsdale Gun Club, the nation's largest indoor shooting range.

Phoenix-based LGE Design Build Corp. started the 35,000-sq.-ft. project on Northsite Boulevard in March 2003. The gun club features four shooting bays with eight lanes in each bay. The project is near the Scottsdale Airpark.

"We have been training law enforcement and the military since 1986, and with the rising interest in self protection, we are seeing a lot more civilians," said owner Terry Schmidt.

"We found there were no places civilians could go where they could shoot safely as well as have fun."

There is a two-story tactical "shoot house" to train law enforcement professionals, a gunsmith and a retail component selling weapons. There's also a defensive tactics center for training in personal defense for people who would rather use hands than guns.

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"This is the first gun club in Arizona to shoot lead rounds from fully automatic weapons," said David Sellers, vice president of LGE Design Build.

The project sits on a slab-on-grade foundation with 7-in. tilt-up concrete walls. In non shooting areas, the building is topped with steel and wood trusses, while the shooting range features concrete double Ts for a roof system. The double Ts are covered with a .25-in. ballistic plate steel on the interior to deflect bullets.

The gun club is open to the public but also offers memberships, with the highest tier of membership able to access a private on-site club featuring pool tables, big screen TVs and other amenities.

Originally envisioned as a frangible-round shooting range, owner Terry Schmidt changed the design to use all types of ammunition, including lead rounds. The change allowed the gun club to offer tactical training classes to police departments from around the country.

"After we met with various departments, we found they had certain requirements because of lawsuits," said architect Peter Sangiorgio of Phoenix-based Arrington Watkins Architects. "If they (law enforcement) ever got called into court for using a gun in a police shooting, the lawyers will ask if they have trained with that gun and ammo. If the answer is no, there is liability."

The new design forced major changes in the building's mechanical system. The $1 million mechanical system can recirculate 100 percent of the building's air through massive, 50-in.-diameter. ducts. A carbon monoxide detection system features sensors tied to an active control system that uses fans ranging from 17,000 c.f.m. to 35,000 c.f.m. The mechanical systems also feature high-efficiency particulate absolute filters, with a total of 100,000 c.f.m. of circulating air when shooters are on the range.

"Basically, to shoot indoors in an air-conditioned environment, you have to filter the lead out of the air stream and return it to the space," said Greg Paraino, a principal with Phoenix-based Applied Engineering, a mechanical and electrical engineering firm.

To limit lead contamination, designers employed a $300,000 "snail" system for recovering lead rounds. The system is manufactured by gun maker Savage Arms of Westfield, Mass. The "snail" in the system is a steel chamber shaped like a snail's shell. When the round enters the chamber after passing through the target, its velocity is rapidly diminished as it spins through the snail shell.

An auger then moves the spent rounds to an outdoor receiving bin, where they are hauled away and recycled.

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