Features — 01 October 2012

Environmental Aids

A combination of planning and products help effect the desired results

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By Carolee Anita Boyles

Think of environmental aids as spring cleaning tools for ranges. Some of them let you clean up messes. Others help you address more serious problems with a “deep clean.” Still others prevent problems.

“Good housekeeping and routine maintenance are just what we do,” said Dick Peddicord, president of Dick Peddicord & Company.

One of the most important aspects of an environmental stewardship plan is the community education aspect.

“Environmental management at ranges is very much the same thing as spring cleaning.” It stands to reason, then, that environmental aids for ranges encompass a wide spectrum of items, from simple tools to well-planned infrastructure.

“When we talk about environmental range aids, we’re really talking about environmental stewardship,” Peddicord said.

One easy-to-access environmental aid is the digital library on the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s website. Here you can find numerous documents to help you develop an environmental stewardship plan for your range that takes into account lead management, noise abatement, erosion control, water quality and many other considerations. Sample templates give you guidance as you develop a site-specific plan for your indoor or outdoor range.

“An environmental stewardship plan provides continuity,” Peddicord said. “It keeps you on track and keeps you organized and prepared. It provides you with a first line of defense if a regulator or a reporter shows up. You can say, ‘Yes, we’ve thought about that and addressed it. Look on page such-and-such of our environmental stewardship plan.’”

Another environmental issue is projectile management for safety,

and the use of an impact absorption layer in the

impact zone.

One of the most important aspects of an environmental stewardship plan is the community education aspect. Options for education include working with charitable organizations and events, developing relationships with the press and sponsoring outdoor programs on talk radio in your area. These all are ways to communicate to your community the good things you’re doing, such as preserving green space, providing wildlife habitat or installing nature trails on portions of your property that are away from the shooting range.

Another area that ranges often overlook is personal hygiene.

“By its nature, shooting a gun is dirty,” said Scott Kranz, an engineer with URS Corporation, a lead-reclamation and -recycling company in Oregon. “There should be a space immediately off the range for people to wash their hands. The area should have running water and soap. The biggest risk of lead exposure at a range is hand to mouth; you get the lead on your hands and then you eat and you ingest it.”

One of the most serious ongoing issues that ranges deal with is proper lead management. The EPA has issued a series of best management practices for lead management, including keeping the soil within a particular pH range to prevent lead movement.

“You don’t need to worry about the acidity of water in ponds and streams,” Peddicord said. “Water moves too fast, and you can’t manage it. But you can manage the acidity in the soil, because that’s what the lead is in contact with.”

“PH affects the solubility of lead,” said Paul Stull, associate engineer with AMEC Earth and Environmental in Oregon. “You can use pH amendments to moderate the pH and reduce the solubility and mobility of lead.”

Monitoring the pH of your impact zone is fairly simple, Stull said, and is accomplished with the use of a pH meter such as is used in agriculture.

A shot curtain can help contain shot, similar to curtains containing golf balls at a driving range.

“It’s not a farm, but you’ll be using soil amendments like a farm does in the bullet impact area,” he said. “You also can have a little weather station and keep track of the pH of the rain in your area. In some areas of the country that’s not a problem, but in other areas it is; if you’re in an acid rain area, you may be using amendments to neutralize the rainfall so you don’t mobilize the lead.”

Depending on whether and how much you need to affect the soil’s pH, Stull said, you may use simple agricultural lime or other amendments, or it may take something more effective.

“There are some ballistic-particular products that are phosphates, that go a step further and ‘fix’ the dissolved lead to a material,” he said. “That can be costly and is more of a remediation product than a maintenance product.”

If properly written, your environmental stewardship program will cover how often you need to sample, what materials you’ll need to use, acid rain conditions (or lack thereof) in your area and other factors related to lead management.

Another environmental issue is projectile management for safety, and the use of an impact absorption layer in the impact zone.

“There are a lot of products for use in this area,” Stull said. “There’s a lot of variability when you’re talking about indoor ranges, where you can use a number of rubber-type materials or baffling systems that will direct bullets into a chute. Outdoor ranges usually use ballistic sand, because they are in an environment where you have to deal with weathering and UV light. Ballistic sand is akin to a roadway product; it’s a crushed rock material that has a certain gradation range and lends itself well to ballistic absorption. A lot of outdoor ranges are going to ballistic sand because it’s easy to manage.”

On shotgun ranges, Stull said, shot curtains are becoming more popular for managing pellets.

“Shot curtains are used a lot in Europe,” he said. “A shot curtain is similar to a curtain used on a driving range for golf but it’s made of a metallic-chain-link-type material. Pellets hit the shot curtain and roll down to the bottom of it where you can harvest them easily every year or so. It’s also a way you can have a skeet range on a small property.”

Sound management is becoming more of an issue, Stull said, as residential zones continue to grow closer to existing ranges that originally were in rural areas.

“In cases like this, we can rebuild a range to drive the sound upward rather than outward,” he said. “We do this by the way we redesign the berms. Sometimes we put a solid hedge along the top of the berms for a visual and sound break. The sound is there and is going to get out one way or another; the key is to deflect it as much away from residential areas as possible.”

Another issue is storm water. How will you handle the results of a sudden summer deluge?

“You want to segregate the area where the bullets end up from where the rest of the storm water goes,” Stull said. “You can do it by grading and drainage that typically are designed to segregate that water from the storm-water system and get water away from the bullets as quickly as possible. That way, you mitigate the transportation of any dissolved lead and prevent the discharge of the water from that part of the range into a surface body of water or into a sewer system.”

One aid some ranges can use is solar panels to reduce power consumption. Although many people believe that solar power still is too expensive to install for the return a facility receives, in many cases that’s no longer the case. According to a recent paper by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the cost of solar power has declined sharply over the past several years.

“Average PV module prices have fallen by nearly 75 percent in the past three years,” the paper’s authors wrote.

Another factor is the financial incentives that some states are giving to businesses that install photovoltaic and other renewable energy systems.

“California and New Jersey are the two strongest states in terms of solar-energy installation,” said Glenna Wiseman, vice president of marketing for HelioPower in Murietta, Calif.

One range that has installed solar panels is Sprague’s Sports in Yuma, Ariz. Owner Richard Sprague put panels not only on top of the building, but also over his employees’ parking area. Now his employees can park in the shade of the solar panels, which generate power for the business. In an environment such as Arizona, having covered parking is a major benefit.

Ideally, protecting the natural resources on your range will have been addressed by your environmental stewardship plan.

“You may be protecting wildlife habitat on a tract that’s a couple of hundred acres,” Kranz said. “Protecting this habitat is good for the community and good for the range.”

A good source for help with this aspect of range management is your state game and fish department. Another one is a local chapter of a national conservation organization such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Options for dealing with environmental issues on your range are limited only by your imagination. Though some environmental issues are dictated by best management practices, others–such as protecting natural habitat–are more a matter of good public relations and good stewardship. Being attentive to both categories will help you be a good neighbor and a well regarded member of your community.

Environmental-Aid Resources

pH Meters, Weather Instruments

Cole-Parmer North America
625 East Bunker Court
Vernon Hills, IL 60061
800-323-4340 or 888-358-471
100 Grainger Parkway
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Hanna Instruments
270 George Washington Highway
Smithfield, RI 02917
800-426-6287 or 401-765-750

Shot Curtains

Hope Global
50 Martin Street
Cumberland, RI 02864

Solar Power

25767 Jefferson Avenue
Murrieta, California 92562
Hunter’s Green Electric
7301 17th Way N
Saint Petersburg, FL 33702
Smart Solar Solutions
10869 Scottsdale Road, Suite 103-282
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

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