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Shooting Range Approval (11-29-2021)


These guidelines explain the minimal acceptable levels of design and construction standards for
handgun, shotgun and rifle ranges a Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) uses in their assessment to issue a
range approval. It does not provide detailed construction requirements for special purpose ranges
or additional design features required for ranges where human activity exists within a range danger
area (RDA). For additional information related to the permissible design features of these ranges,
contact the CFO for the province or territory where the range is located.

A person who wishes to operate a shooting range must receive approval under section 29(1) of the
Firearms Act. A shooting range is defined as a “place that is designed or intended for the safe
discharge, on a regular and structured basis, of firearms for the purpose of target practice or target
shooting competitions”. An approval is issued by the CFO and must comply with other federal,
provincial, or municipal legislation. An approval does not include the activity of training or drilling
as set out in section 70 of the Criminal Code. Training and drilling may be considered by the CFO
where the activity is performed by a public agency or by the Department of National Defence and is
normally approved by the issuance of a temporary approval.

Range design is based on historical evidence, scientific data generated from trials, and considered
opinion, based on appropriate ballistic and statistical calculations for the purpose of providing
reasonable and acceptable levels of range safety. Range safety requirements are developed to
mitigate risk by identifying and assessing hazards associated with target shooting, and developing
and implementing controls to reduce or eliminate those hazards. Range safety requirements are
not designed to capture those projectiles associated to accidental or unintentional discharge, nor
those associated with negligent discharge. Ranges are designed to capture all properly aimed
projectiles discharged in accordance with the safety rules with an additional degree of safety for
acceptable aimer error and ricochet. The mandatory detail provided in this guide addresses
identified and predictable hazards, to which it provides engineering solutions to reduce the
perceived risk.

Historically a standard traditional range has been interpreted as a place intended for the safe
discharge of firearms along a single bearing, from a static position. A standard range will consist of
at least one fixed firing line and fixed target line with a backstop as defined within the construction
document. A standard outdoor range will also employ a RDA.

These guidelines provide minimal design and construction requirements for both static traditional
ranges and dynamic shooting ranges.

Dynamic shooting is characterized by having moving target lines and moving shooting positions.
The addition of movement on range typically affects both bearing angle and cone of fire and has a
subsequent impact upon the RDA. Established firing lines are identified and arc of fire is
predetermined. A range officer is required to accompany a shooter throughout activity on these

Environmental protection, including such matters as hazardous material and noise as a nuisance or
pollutant, are overseen and enforced by other government agencies. The CFO relies upon expertise
provided by federal, provincial, and municipal authorities to ensure compliance.

The CFO relies on these guidelines combined with other sources of information in their assessment
to issue a range approval, the continuing compliance of the approval, and to assess any proposed
changes to an approved range. It is the range operator’s responsibility to ensure that the
discharge of firearms on the shooting range does not endanger the safety of persons at the
shooting range or in the portion of the surrounding area.

If you have questions related to the construction or operation of a purposed or active range,
contact the Chief Firearms Officer by calling the Canadian Firearms Program toll free at 1-800-731-

Click here for the full Range Design and Construction Guideline PDF