A Rifle Range Over a Highway? Only in Switzerland

Capture

Ranges in the United States tend to be as far away from a highway as practical, but for those in Switzerland, its perfectly acceptable to build a range that fires over a highway. The Brunnlisau range in Switzerland is a 300 meter rifle range built over a main road leading up  the Simmental.

Why? Because the Swiss tend to be entirely practically minded as its entirely possible to build a safe range with rounds passing over traffic.

As the “Bloke on the Range” reviews, its all about how the range is set up. Fixed at 300 meters, the range makes use of clever engineering to create a baffle that so long as one is in the shoot house, makes it impossible for one to put a round on a trajectory that would impact a passing automobile. In fact, the baffle system is so secure, one can walk up to under the shooting house (or sit under it if they so choose).

While it is safe under the baffle, it can be quite loud. To reach 300 meters, rounds are supersonic which creates a sonic boom as the projectiles travel over travelers.

Fortunately, the butts look to be electronically monitored, so no need to cross the road (or look both ways) to enjoy shooting on an afternoon.

For a full run-down of the range check out Bloke on the Range video below.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Minuteman

    That’s new…
    Anyway, the thought crossed my mind: Am I the only one who finds range shooting to be utterly boring? I prefer more lively training geared towards real life scenarios. A more dynamic, tactical environment so to speak… The range is fine for familiarization training, entry level marksmanship training and sighting in, but that’s where its practical use ends.

    • Bill

      The only thing more boring than laying on the ground shooting at a bullseye is watching other people do it.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Not if someone is laying under you.

    • MrBrassporkchop

      I’d love to have access to a boring range. At least one where you can just pay a flat fee per visit and with minimal limitations on when you can show up and I can get there in under an hour.Where I live it takes some work to get out beyond 100 yards without an ongoing financial obligation and a wait list.

      But what you talk about would be even cooler.

      • Minuteman

        I have zero to very little use for a range, but I hear ya.

        • John Chrysostom

          “Zero” is the key word.

    • John Chrysostom

      How do you zero your firearms? Random distances? On an incline?

      • Don

        Like he said in his first post “The range is fine for familiarization training, entry level marksmanship training and SIGHTING IN”… It helps to read the whole comment before you post a question that has already been answered…

      • Minuteman

        Like I said, that’s about the only little use I have for a range.

    • Richard

      I just want a range near where I live that doesn’t have a problem with rapid fire.

    • missourisam

      Ever challenged in your self to putting every round in the bull at 300 meters. That is a challenge in itself, especially from the looks of the terrain and the wind currents that have to go with such topography, not to mention the air current from the traffic. Looks like a challenge to me.

      You were talking about real life scenario. Have much trouble finding people that want to shoot it out for real.

    • roninpenguin

      That is fine for you, but I just enjoy the act of shooting so I try and get as much range time as possible. It is very relaxing to me to just go through the motions, concentrate on the target, and do as well as I can.

      I call it my “Range Therapy” and it helps me get through my daily stress.

    • Sasquatch

      My friend have you ever tried 3gun.

  • Tim Pearce

    People’s heads would explode if you even suggested such a thing in the USA. XD

    • Bjørn Vermo

      At least it is allowed for hunters to shoot across a road if the height difference is sufficient.

      • Bill

        Not where I work, shooting from or over a road is an offense. A coworker handled a homicide in which a deer hunter fired a slug at a deer, missed, shot again and nailed the deer. His first round also nailed a woman driving down a road quite a ways from where he was. He was convicted of manslaughter.

        • Eric in Oregon

          In that case manslaughter was unrelated to shooting over a road…

          However firing over a road is also illegal where I live (OR).

  • Bill

    Clearly Switzerland doesn’t have enough liability lawyers. Does the range actually serve beer, and allow smoking at a table?

    It may be “safe,” but nothing is “%100 safe.” Bullets escape ranges all the time, no matter how well they are designed. Unless maybe your range is one of the underground tubes some ballistics labs use.

    • Ark

      Every time someone claims to have build something foolproof, we invent a better fool.

      • Lee Attiny

        Its basic physics. A bullet will never defeat a grass berm.

        • Don

          Until said bullet hits something much harder and is deflected in the wrong direction, but I’m sure that never happens…

    • gusto

      yeah just nicking the berm and who knows where the bullet goers…

    • Bradley

      The last thing I saw like this was a range that had the entry road riget beside the line of fire. A lot of the ranges are government run. This one was something like 200 years old and had never had a single accident. Also yes they do commonly consume alcohol at the range. Switzerland has universal military service so it’s safe to say a vast majority of the population have extensive firearms training. If it had ever been a problem then they wouldn’t do things the way they do. Bullets don’t just “escape” ranges. People fire them in a direction they shouldn’t.

      • Parashooter

        We have a Scheutzen range here in the States near me, that is in the back of a bar (it’s part of a German Heritage association) The game is a giggle… you have a bar about chest height across your shooting point, and a stop on the forearm of the rifle – you park the rifle on that bar, push the stop up, lean into it to stabilize it (you know how wobbly we get when drinking….) and fire! I’m not familiar enough with the rules… I wonder if there’s a scoring bonus for a higher BAC.

      • mmathers

        A few years ago i had to work at a gun range one evening a month as an range safety officer as part of my membership. It was an outdoor range and everyone shot from benches. i recall having to yell at a new idiot at least once a night for hitting the dirt floor vs the target/backstop (therrby causing the bullet to skip and potentially making it over the backstop).

    • iksnilol

      BOOOO! Stop being a whimp, a couple of drinks and firearms are okay. Smoking is only an issue when reloading ammo or shooting blackpowder.

      • Bill

        I’ll defer to one of our UK contingent, but apparently some of their police stations have bars as part of their cafeterias and having a pint while supping on duty is expected.

        With all the anti-smoking laws in the US, seeing an ashtray on a table is rare to us, about like a range that crosses a road.

        • iksnilol

          I don’t mind anti-smoking to be honest. Hate that crap.

          Only smoke I don’t mind is the vaping (it’s just steam) and from hookahs (because there’s a time and place for it).

          But yeah, I don’t see the harm if you control yourself in regards to alcohol.

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          That used to be true of some police stations in the UK (with an attached social club) but that practice ended years ago! Long before I joined anyway which isn’t as recent an event as I’d care to admit…

      • AK

        A cigarette could be a handy alternative to a matchcord in a matchlock…easier to handle and keep glowing!

    • Swissguy

      In Switzerland we have Gsundemenscheverstande wich translates to common sense.

      • jay

        We used to as well. They stopped teaching it in school a while back. Now they teach sex education.

    • AK

      +1 to bullets escaping. You really don’t get an appreciation of ricochets until you see tracers being poured full auto at a target at night. Those little glowing embers go all over. Of course not all of them are with the rest of the bullet still attached, but the ones that fly far most certainly are!

  • Kalle

    I’d be worried about some malfunction or production failure, that would launch a projectile at less than normal speeds. They could end up on the road.

    Are subsonic handloads welcome?

    • Anonymoose

      Ah, yes, like the almost-squib I got out of a box of Tulammo Gold 9mm. It had just enough force to pop out of the barrel and flop on the floor, but the powder didn’t ignite and gunked up the inside of my gun. Nasty sh*t, right there.

    • phuzz

      But for a projectile to reach cars on the road it would have to be moving pretty slowly, and would be about as dangerous a stone flicked up by another car.

      • josh

        it wouldn’t be moving that slowly and it would still be moving in a ballistic arc and be deadly.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    If it works it works but it just doesnt look right….
    Probably from a lifetime of practicing not to point a gun, loaded or not, in the direction of human beings.

    • Jake

      maybe they have refugees training there? and they want to practice shooting live targets?

      • SP mclaughlin

        If anyone in Europe isn’t taking refugees, it’s the Swiss

        • Jake

          Excuse me, i was thinking of proud germany

        • Swissguy

          I call Bullshit! We have on of the highest percentage of refugees, measured on our population.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Presumably they have rules in place requiring a RSO present, and shooting from the prone only.. because you can clearly see traffic over the barrier from the camera’s position a few feet above the shooter.

    • DaveJ

      That is correct.

    • FarmerB

      Not all have berms. You regularly see targets next to the road where it would be possible to fire at a car from a firing point in the shooting house.

  • Jake

    Switzerland doesnt have a florida does it?

    • camosoul

      I’m from Floriduh. Totally understand this comment.

      • RocketScientist

        Are you “from” Florida? Or just live there now?

        • camosoul

          Both.

  • Anonymoose

    “Hold my beer.”

    • jay

      And watch this!

  • Swissguy

    I am a simple swiss guy, if i see Switzerland i upvote…

    • Marc

      Like Tom Luhti?

      • Doctor Jelly

        I’m not Swiss, but I like motorcycle racing!

  • Muri

    Ha, I knew I’d read someday something about that very particular range. Drove by there many times, nothing special.

  • The Forty ‘Twa

    I often shoot at a range that has various paths between the targets and the shooter (I’m from the UK). Is a bit disconcerting at first to see people wandering across the middle of the range but you can’t actually see them at all when you are shooting.

  • Texas Penal Code §42.01 (a)(9) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly discharges a firearm on or across a public road

  • Smedley54

    Prone only, or offhand too?

  • Tassiebush

    Always cool to see pictures like that with such a description! Sounds like a reasonable approach if you have an idea of what traffic is likely to be travelling along it. There’s probably a good argument against driving a camouflaged Prius around there!

  • Tassiebush

    That was really cool!

    • gusto

      drinking, smoking while handloading, quite literary hand-loading to, a bottle a day ):

      there are still deaths every year due to hunting but since the late 80s when it started to be a requirement that you take hunters-ed and the constant drinking and hunting culture disappeared the deaths are dwindling down thank god

      • Tassiebush

        I loved how imprecise the handloading was and how the powder was falling onto the paper.

  • Col. Douglas Mortimer

    When I lived in Illinois I was a member of a gun club whose range property bordered the interstate. The interstate ran east to west and the range was on the north side with shooting direction north.

  • Michael Rice

    Meanwhile in Hawaii, we have a 100 yard range inside a volcanic crater and STILL manage to lob a stray round over the mountains and into houses 2-3 miles away every now and again.

  • Tierlieb

    300m? A baffle system? Kinda tame.

    Other ranges in Switzerland include one for 530m and 580m that crosses a path often frequented by joggers. The rule there is even simpler: If you can fit two thumbs between the person and the target, you’re good to shoot. Has been working for 30 years without any trouble. Oleg Volk has pictures.

    Or the 1.2km one that goes from one mountain to the other, with a village in the valley below.

    • FarmerB

      The 1.2Km sounds like Vugelles – which closed a couple of years ago. I last shot there in 2013 after a massive snow dump which required the army to clear the road to get to it.
      I regularly shoot at a 1100m range that has a road 5-10 m below our barrels and there is no berm. Other ranges I’ve shot at, you can frequently see people in front of you which it would be possible to shoot at with a fairly trivial adjustment to line of sight.
      The big thing here is that they understand anybody on a range has had army training (not true in my case) and knows what they are doing. There is an organization which checks ranges for safety – our town’s 300m was reported on recently. But when you have a militia style army where every village needs a range to practise on, they cannot have a safety culture which says “if it’s at all possible, it’s banned” or there would hardly be an allowed range in the whole country.

  • ozzallos .

    How do those targets get changed out? Are they permanent? Inquiring minds, after all.

  • survivor50

    Been visiting Switzerland for 37 years. You’d be stunned by their acceptance of stuff like this. Guys riding bikes with an automatic rifle on their back… see it all the time. Our lawyers SALIVATE at the possibilities!!!

  • Dave514

    There is a similar range in Germany. I believe in the Southern part, I remember reading about a goodly number of years ago

  • missourisam

    Never happen in the USA as long as the liberals have any say. One of those nasty guns might get away from the owner, crawl up on a high spot and shoot a passing motorist. Guns are not the problem, but the mentally ill that want their 15 minutes of fame, and get it in spades from the news media every time they act out. I even heard a news caster admit that this creates copy cats, but is sells papers and gives spice to news casts. If the name of the killer was never mentioned, but the victims were given the coverage it would help. These fame seeking loonies want attention evne if they die to get it. Deny their wishes and they might think twice.

  • Tp

    A road is generally considered “a road” if it is on a Government type map, so basically if its on a good Topo map, its a no – no

  • Tp

    Just curious as to just what that wall is really made of, looks like someone just put up a wooden fence, but I can only assume that that is cosmetic, and its a really thick SOLID concrete wall, or its a really rich gun club, and they covered it with a good armour type steel. I can only imagine one in a 100,000 or so rounds a bipod could break right as you are shooting, and you nail the wall halfway down, some freaky accident type incident always happens sooner or later. It is a heck of a good idea when you are strapped for a long range – range though.

  • jay

    I guess no shooting of anything with a short trajectory? 30-30, etc.?
    Interesting idea, but here in the US (specially unfriendly states), you’d never get away with this type of range. Lead contamination, wind and gravity, noise pollution (for local land owners), birds flying through the shooting area (if it will save just one bird!), etc. Mostly pc nonsense, but that’s what rules here (pc nonsense).