Firing facilities typically address three types of requirements:
- An indoor range for firearms function testing, including remote test firing
- Bullet recovery system for obtaining known standards for comparisons with evidence bullets
- Access to a range for testing requiring longer distances
Safety is critical in all phases of firearms examination crime scene, laboratory, firing range, and bullet recovery facility. Each forensic firearms laboratory is different and has firearms safety protocols developed for that particular laboratory.
An indoor range facility dedicated to laboratory use is ideal for the efficient operation of a forensic firearms unit. Generally, these facilities provide one or two shooting positions in a confined space. Indoor ranges typically have an automated overhead target placement and retrieval system.
The impact area of these ranges requires some type of bullet trap arrangement to prevent back spatter or a ricochet, as well as to mitigate airborne lead. Some provision must also be made to allow for the periodic removal of accumulated bullet fragments.
Ventilation is important in indoor range facilities, but is not always an easy problem to solve. The key requirement is that sufficient air moves across the shooting points, facilitating the removal of airborne pollutants.
Sound and vibration mitigation is a requirement, especially for firing ranges with close proximity to personnel and sensitive equipment. Sound-deadening materials are typically part of the solution; sound travels through ventilation systems and construction voids.
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