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By the time I finally came on board with The Range at Austin the general floorplan was already finalized. The foundation was solid and cured by my first day of work, and within a month the walls were ready to be erected. Speaking of putting up the walls, the way that this building is actually constructed is pretty damn cool . . .

The standard building materials for projects this size are wood and sheet metal. Lightweight materials that are relatively inexpensive, easy to work with, and quick to erect. The problem is that when you start thinking about what goes on in a range — small projectiles traveling at multiples of the speed of sound — wood and sheet metal don’t really contain all that chaos terribly well. So instead of the excessively permeable standard construction method, we opted for walls made out of highly reinforced concrete.

Containment was definitely the reason why the materials were chosen, but it wasn’t just the projectiles we didn’t want leaving the range — the sound needs to be contained as well. One of the other ranges in Austin is a perfect example of what happens when you get this wrong: you need hearing protection just walking from the parking lot into the building. The sound of people enjoying their Constitutionally protected rights is a nuisance not only to customers but also to surrounding neighbors and businesses, too.

During the planning process, the folks behind The Range hired an acoustician to minimize the noise on and around the range. The goal was to have the exterior be as quiet as possible while keeping the inside of the store and waiting area quiet enough that you could enjoy a conversation the other side of the wall from the shooting lanes. There are a bunch of tricks that they employed, from thicker fireproof coatings on the ceilings to absorb noise and beefier ballistic glass, but the primary way to keep the sound from traveling from one location to another is the use of thick concrete walls.

This kind of construction is called “tilt wall construction” and you’ll see why in a second. Concrete is poured into a series of forms on the site itself and allowed to cure. Once ready, a large crane comes in and tilts (see?) each wall section up and into place. The walls are then secured temporarily with jacks until they can be permanently welded into place with steel girders. All told it took about three days for The Range at Austin to go from a flat construction site to having four walls built and ready for finishing out.

Walking around the site for the first time was definitely an interesting experience. Looking at blueprints is one thing, but when you actually see the space yourself and can visualize where everything will eventually go it brings the whole project to life. Everything seems a whole lot bigger than it looks on paper. For example, this view down the 100 yard lane seemed a whole lot shorter when it was just blue ink on paper.

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Now that we have the structure in place, and the task switches to ensuring that we can finish out the interior of the building. With storm clouds brewing this week over Austin the question is whether we can get the second floor finished and the roof in place before the worksite gets washed out again. And there’s a huge safety-related question that needs to be answered, one that we didn’t identify until the walls were finally constructed. Stay tuned.

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50 Responses to The Range at Austin: Putting Up Walls

  1. This looks like a great indoor range. While I am always glad to see a new range being built, I prefer shooting outside for the openness, the many different types of shooting that are possible and quite simply the freedom. On top of that the noise in some ranges is ridiculous. I know practicing for every situation is important and shooting indoors helps to give an understanding of just how loud a gun truly is, but when the guy next to you is shooting long strings on an AK it can sure start to wear on a guy.

        • It also helps when you get far enough north. -30C and blowing snow is not much fun to try shooting in, and a lot of the more finicky guns just won’t take it.

        • Pretty much. I was born/raised in inland San Diego county, which during the summer months isn’t that far off from Texas, at least as far as average temperatures go. Not that big an adjustment, though my old place in Sorrento Valley was at the mouth of a canyon whose terminus was at Torrey Pines state beach.

          But given the job market here and the absolute pants-on-head retardedness going on not only with gun laws, but immigration, state employee pension burderns, healthcare, water rationing and the crumbling infrastructure in CA, the sunshine tax was just too much. I pulled the rings a year and a half ago and haven’t had a single twinge of homesickness.

          The only downside: I waited too long, and now DFW is the 3rd hottest real estate market in the country. I wish I’d stayed at AT&T/SBC in 2007 when they moved the old PacBell NOC operation to Richardson (where I live now) and paid for the move, kept my job title and pay scale, etc, etc. Wish in one hand s**t in the other and see which fills up first. :\

    • I agree. I agree prefer outside ranges too. should totally build one at least 300 meters in the middle of Austin right next to UT or 6th street.

      Mabey we can get the Commifornians who moved there to hold the targets.

  2. Very surprised at the location. Would have expected this more west. Now; Open one up north. Like in Georgetown. 😉

  3. Agree with Robb on the location but perhaps cheaper land? As far as the tilt walls, I worked on a project back in the mid-90s where our contractor had just tilted up the walls on a Friday…early Monday morning the Northridge earthquake struck and the walls came tumbling down.

  4. Tilt-up structural re-enforced concrete walls are very economical for large buildings like warehouses. Or in this case, a firearms/shooting/retail complex. Also good lateral load capabilities, if you live in hurricane prone areas.
    I was wondering about the ceiling……below the second floor. You have a ceiling designed to keep the bullets from going upstairs, right? Can those girders support ballistic plating?

    ANC(Active Noise Control) might be a way to minimize range noise. Inside and outside.

    • they’re bar joists, not girders. What they’ll probably do is bridge two or more joists with angle, then hang down from the angle, spreading out the load on more structure. Depending on the joist being speced they may very well be able to support the AR500 baffles.

      • Yes, they are bar joists, but I didn’t think it was necessary to correct RF’s misapplication of the word girder. I’m pretty sure everyone knew what he was talking about. So, did you think it was safer(less risky) pointing out my misuse of the word RF used, as opposed to pointing out RF’s original misuse of the word?

  5. Those ceiling girders don’t look near strong enough to support pre-stressed concrete roof/floor.
    Ruh-Roh!

    • More than probably they’re going to hang AR 500 baffles from the ceiling to deflect shots toward the slab down range, that’s more “standard”. If they are going to build over the range like that, they could use hollow core plank provided the walls are about ~20-30′ apart for them to bear on.

  6. Another way to minimize noise at the range would be a large number of sound suppressors available for people to use whenever they come. This was an idea of my fairly anti gun mother.

    • Doesn’t she know that only assassins use silencers? At least that’s what the news keeps telling me. /sarc/

      • Well she doesn’t think people should own them for that reason. “Only assassins and poachers really want them” her point is that if they are really a health and safety device, then they should be stored where you shoot most of the time, not in your home because they could be used in a murder or for poaching.

  7. DrVino beat me to it, but…

    Instead of “Walls”, what kind of “Bridges” are they building for shooters that aren’t made of money?

    Considering the numbers of folks that work shift work, Midnight to 0-dark-30 shoots at a discount would be nice.

    24/7 even better…

    • Considering the target market and business model they seem to be pursuing, I don’t think “discount” is a word you’re going to hear much at this place.

  8. I’ve never been to an indoor range that wasn’t built with reinforced concrete walls, and I’ve been going to dozens for 40 years.

    Christ, you non-history-knowing millenials really have precisely zero effen clues, do you?

    It’s fvckin’ standard building construction. It’s light years from being “unique” or “modern” or anything other than “standard”. “Tilt-up” has been used for over 100 years, quit trying to sell it as novel. Your friends built another architectural snore-fest. Good for them. It’s a range. Woot.

    Jam your self-important BS right where the sun doesn’t shine. Your buds built a building, one that is rife with a bunch of shit that has been known for a hundred years. Spare us all the speshul snowflake crap. It’s a building. Woo, effen hoo.

    • *IF* they got results from the acoustician they hired to damp out the noise impulses, it might be something to brag on about. *Might*

      Large bore in an enclosed area, even with earpro, does rapidly tire one out…

    • I barely qualify as a millenial but I’ve been in construction for 10+ years now. Tilt construction *is* novel as it’s application is limited to distribution centers, water treatment plants, occasionally big box stores(but rarely at this point), and fell out of favor in the spec office building market back in the early 2000’s.

      Developers want to put the cheapest buildings they can on a piece of property for it’s intended use. That uses the cheapest structural and cladding system, which has become steel for mid rise, wood for low rise, generally concrete for high rise. Changes in the energy code and building code have made tilt even less desirable for thermal insulation properties, thermal bridging, etc. It’s not as attractive a building system as it once was.

      Tilt is the most common building type *IF* you live an hour outside of a major metro where nobody is building anything but distribution systems. Inside major metros, it’s probably the least common. It is, as you say, a conventional building type, just increasingly rare.

      • Obviously you have to factor in hurricane / seismic zone considerations, but in Miami it’s all PT concrete slabs/structure or masonry with tie beams/columns. The south east we basically use the above systems.

        • You know what? I actually found that quite fascinating. I’m now going to look closely at all the buildings I pass on the way to work and think about them differently. Thanks for the knowledge, and for improving my situational awareness. Previously buildings were just big things behind which one can hide from a bad guy. Now I’m seeing the thing itself. Cool!

          I dig it when my perspective shifts.

      • True, there might be something interesting if they used active cancellation, or some novel passive reflectivity coupled with some neato absorbtion material, to self-cancel. But you know, they called an acoustical guy. That’s the level of detail…. Maybe how they acoustically decouple the shooting space from the retail might have been informative for some readers. Layers of sheetrock, green glue, clips, air gaps, brownbread, that sort of stuff.

        Dave, you’re right, it waxes and wanes in favor. 20 years from now it’ll be supplanted by pre-printed concrete panels, or who knows. I’ve never been a user of tilt-up, but like you said it does work for distro hubs, warehouses, and cheap office buildings. My point was merely that it was as exciting as building with CMUs. It’s a solution-set, one that fits certain needs, price-points, and geographic scenarios.

        Please don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of millenials who are not self-centered, who aren’t crying for attention for the littlest of success, who actually know something.

        Then’s there’s the rest of the speshul snowflake class, who do the same thing that’s been done for decades and not only expect us to feign interest, they want to hear how thrilled we are that they just tied their shoes and went poop.

        • His word choice makes it clear he’s not a “construction guy”, though he’s got the capacity for it if he wanted to. There’s far more interesting stuff about building a gun range than the structure, for sure.

          I keep hoping we get the privilege of building a gun range, my knowledge of building and guns creates a “have to have you work for me” situation where I am brought on board with a developer to steer the expansion of their facilities and with it comes the perks of being able to OC on the job get comp’d ammo to practice with routinely. But that’s basically a fantasy and knowing what I do know about the gun store and range business, they probably couldn’t afford me. Besides, all we build is cheap apartments, classroom buildings, and dining halls.

    • If you were even remotely as smart as you think you are, you would have known that this is post is an advertisement.

    • “The more, the merrier” I say. If like to see a half dozen of these pop up all over Chicagoland. The range choices here are dismal.

      • True. There are few well outside the city, and they are all overpriced. Sometimes I go to Article II range because it’s free for military, but I cringe at the name every time I go…

        • I’m in the south lands about an hour from Downtown. My buddy, who lives just outside of Chicago asked about going shooting, the choices are horrible. Friendly people but dark & dingy range at Rinks with a half hour drive. New range but ignorant people at Megasports, with a half hour drive. Tons of area clubs with outdoor ranges but a 5-20 year waiting list to become a member with in 30 minutes. He mentioned a hunt club about 2 hours away that where we both know members. With millions of people in a 50 mile radius, these are not good choices.

        • I go there sometimes too. It’s only 15 min. from my home. Or to Gat guns in West Dundee. Is there any place within two hours driving radius where man can come and shoot rifle at more than 75 yards not being member? The Where to shoot app is not helping much.

  9. They probably made those slabs flatter and slicker than a conventional concrete slab to use as a casting bed. This is good for how the walls will look and how the squeegees you guys use to clean the range will get all the particulates. This is bad for any “in front of the stalls” events like IDPA/USPSA or any training classes because the floors are as slick as glass.

    “wood and sheet metal” lol.

    If your safety concern is ricochet, pretty much all the ranges with tilt walls in town have about 1″ of some high speed insulation for the back 50′ or so that are supposed to deaden sound but also minimize ricochet. Amazingly, they have to change out a good number of those panels each year because they get shot up… a lot more than you’d think.

    A lot of the sound will come from the roof and the emergency exit off the range that is not “air locked”.

  10. Ok so Nick is a EMT and IT guy by trade. not a construction guy and I doubt he has been in on a construction project from the ground up.

    So he is writing a piece about his employer and promoting their new venture. Cut the guy some slack.

    So a bunch of you have been around construction for 10 years. BFD. I’ve been doing it for over 26. and by that from turing a cornfield in to a site with scrapers to finish grade with a dozer. From taking the steel off the truck with a 90 ton Grove to treeing iron and tipping precast with a 4100 Manitowoc. So spare me your credentials.

    Be glad there are articles like this talking about new multi-million dollar ventures. That should scare the hell out of anti-gunners as this shows a growing market to sustain business ventures like this.

    that doesn’t happen when the same OFWG buy their 5th or 6th AR.

    Keep it up Nick.

      • not at all but you guys want to harp on his about talking about precast buildings and get all bent out of joint over it while touting being in construction.

        get over yourself with 10 + years. my union card is older than you are and so are my combat boots.

        its a fricken gun blog, not world of concrete

  11. Look Nick, I understand you have very little true construction education so you think tilt wall construction is really cool. But the fact remains that everything from your local Wal-greens to local shipping warehouses use this exact process to build, so it’s nothing new, innovative, nor even cool IMO. I’m an electrician by trade so for me this process actually hinders construction, trying to put conduit and boxes in a form and the concrete guys not mess them up is next to impossible. Next article should be on how asininely expensive, and why, this “Guntry club” is.

  12. i am fortunate to have a very pedestrian indoor pistol range close by, National Forest Ranges an hour away; and a fairly new 25 yard indoor range that allows AK’s and AR’s (rents them, too) also an hour away. Would that there was a 100 yard indoor range anywhere close for rainy or cold days, but we don’t have the population of Austin to support it. Closest one to me is, I think, the NRA range in northern VA, and that’s just too far away.

  13. Nick – What method are they using to “armor” the joints in the tilt walls to avoid a potential ricochet hitting the chamfered vertical edge, and potentially exiting the building?

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