Five shooting bays facing a bullet trap in a range with black armored walls and a white concrete floor.

Penn State University Wagner Indoor Shooting Range Design

State-of-the-Art Facility Serves Four ROTC Companies and University Police

Our Client’s Challenge

Penn State University needed a rifle range to be used by Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets and the university police for dynamic training.

Having a place for marksmanship practice is critical for cadets to learn how to protect themselves and their fellow soldiers. Police officers also need a facility to sharpen their skills to defend the community. The previous range had an inadequate bullet trap, poor ventilation, and lacked armoring on the walls and ceiling. Improvements to these conditions were necessary to meet new code and client requirements.

Our Solution

Our team designed a new rifle range located in the Wagner Building annex. Working in an active building called for a non-traditional structural installation. The adjacent space held offices that required concrete to be injected into the core of the walls. Finally, most of the work had to be completed in the summer to avoid campus disruptions.

Cadets and officers can practice firing from prone and kneeling positions, and all five bays are simultaneously usable. For safety, a red firing line runs in front of the bays to keep shooters out of harm’s way. Targets rigged from the ceiling can be moved mechanically by flipping a switch. A bullet trap of 13 inches of rubber and a steel plate stops bullets at the back of the firing range. Armoring made of recycled tires over steel plates protects the ceiling and concrete masonry unit walls from bullet damage.

When active weapons are firing, a sign above the door between the range and the antechamber will light up and read “Room in Use” to deter others from opening the door. The door into the antechamber requires keycard access as a safety precaution. The shooting range has negative air pressure, which prevents users from inhaling harmful particles, such as lead. The negative air pressure draws these particles away from the shooter and into the bullet trap. For this reason, it is essential that only one set of doors is open at a time to keep air pressure from being altered.

The indoor range can also be used in smokeless mode, meaning laser ammunition can be simulated and fired at a removable screen that projects training images. The LED lighting fixtures are dimmable between 10% to 100% brightness. Individual control of each row of lights allows for various training scenarios. Radiant heating panels were used on the range so that there is no other forced air coming in beyond the air meant to push the bullets downstream.

The power distribution design required a new panelboard. The existing switchgear in the main part of the building feeds the panelboard in the annex. New heating and ventilation systems for the range are on the roof. The team added steel reinforcement beams to the roof to support the new HVAC system for the range. Holes had to be drilled in the existing walls from an adjacent high-bay training room to add the reinforcements and were then resealed. The plumbing portion of the design included new sanitary lines inside the building and domestic water upgrades for the restroom facilities.

Key Features

  • A bullet trap made of 13 inches of rubber and steel stops bullets.
  • Adjustable lighting allows for a variety of training exercises.
  • Five shooting bays are available for concurrent use.

Awards & Recognition

  • Awards. This web part is hidden.


  • Over 200 ROTC cadets and law enforcement officers have a safe and convenient training area.
  • Armored walls and ceiling keep students protected from the weaponry used in the range.
  • Structural reinforcements support a new rooftop HVAC system that controls temperature and air pressure inside the facility.


The Pennsylvania State University


University Park, Pa.


Architectural, Buildings Systems

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