By: John Elliott

Not too many people give them much thought and, outside of the SWAT, DEA, ATF, the military Special Forces, or FBI Hostage Rescue Teams, very few have ever seen one close up.

If you’re not a member of one of these units, you may never have the opportunity to engage in training that incorporates some form of shooting house. But the question nowadays is, should a “shoothouse” be included in our range training?

The simple answer, in my opinion, is a resounding YES!

What Exactly Is a Shooting House?
A shoot house is any sort of structure that mirrors real-world buildings wherein shooting scenarios can be practiced. Probably the most important feature of a combat range is some form of structure where shooters – whether civilian, law enforcement, or military – can practice live-fire shooting and, in the case of those aforementioned specialized units, team entry.

Constructing a Shooting House
Shoot houses do not need to be elaborate structures; simple, free-standing, wooden wall structures with doors work fine. For law enforcement teams and military special forces, not having the ability to practice basic entry drills is risking all manner of accidents when they are deployed operationally.

For civilians, break-ins may occur in their homes while they’re asleep in bed at night, so they should be prepared for that possibility. Part of that preparation could include live-fire drills inside a shooting house.

As funds become available, the basic shooting house can always be expanded to include multiple rooms and passageways, as well as additional doors and perhaps some windows. Old rubber tires have proven to be valuable aids in the construction of these buildings. Tires filled with sand, for example, stacked one on top of the other, are robust enough to stand up to almost anything and, if constructed carefully, allow for live fire without the risk of having rounds pass through the walls.

To add some reality to the training regime incorporated into a shooting house, reactionary targets, steel targets, and shoot/no-shoot targets can be included, as well as some items of furniture. To add to the realism a bit, some of the training can be done in low light or during no light hours.

Obviously, all of this construction requires some budgetary considerations, but much of it can be done quite inexpensively with some donated time, labor, and materials. There aren’t too many shooters who wouldn’t willingly donate part of a weekend to help out with a project of this nature. Getting the shooting range to sign onto the project and then finding a suitable corner of the range to construct the shooting house may be the biggest obstacles to overcome.

Another consideration for shooting houses is the risk of injury to the participants, and the risk of liability to the range owners. Waivers must be used and properly trained instructors are a must for any live fire practice within shooting houses. All that being said, the use of shooting houses may prove to be a highly profitable add-on to local gun ranges and an invaluable tool for civilians to expand on their basic skills as shooters.

For more information on shooting houses, check out Sig Sauer Academy’s live fire shoot houses:

John Elliott is a forty-four year veteran of law enforcement, writing from Illinois. Contact him at