Dirt Berm Rifle Range--No FMJs REALLY?


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JohnKSa
September 20, 2003, 11:29 PM
The club had a match today and I spent some time talking to the owner of the range.

He said that the "state" (some state regulating agency that inspects the range) specified that no FMJ should be used on the range. He says this is due to the tendency of spitzer type FMJ bullets to ricochet. He also said that there was no way to eliminate the ricochet problem other than banning FMJ from the range.

He says that he's heard ricochets and attributes them to the use of FMJ. Not knowing of the prohibition, I've shot hundreds of rounds of FMJ at his range and never heard even one ricochet--from my shots or anyone elses.

This is an outdoor range with dirt berm backstops...

Has anyone heard of FMJ bullets ricocheting off dirt backstops?

There are several other dirt berm outdoor ranges in the area that do allow FMJ (which doesn't make sense if he's telling the truth), but my company gun club has a special deal with this one and I can shoot for free. Besides, we hold all of our events at the range and not many people want to shoot HP or SP during the matches--it can get pretty expensive.

I don't plan to go argue with the guy. He doesn't inspect or ask about FMJ, so if it's not a safety issue, I'm going to go on shooting FMJ. I have literally thousands of rounds of FMJ in various calibers, and if I can't shoot it at his range, I don't have another really convenient range to use.

If it's a really a safety issue then I'm not going to be unsafe.

So, what's the deal. Is FMJ dangerous to shoot at dirt berms? Is FMJ causing the ricochets he hears, or is there some other factor at work?

Opinions?

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P95Carry
September 20, 2003, 11:44 PM
Sounds a tad excessive to me!!

All I can say is ...... I guess we would expect SP's to deform quicker on impact and so give up energy quicker ....... FMJ's do tend to ''hold together'' more but frankly .... unless the bullet strikes something real hard then I fail to see how a significant and remotely dangerous richochet will occur.

Pieces of stone in the berm might encourage this .... and in fact I remember one case where it seemed that a FMJ struck another FMJ in the berm .... and ''bounced'' off that. We found a FMJ when digging and it had a score mark as if another FMJ had hit it.

Much will depend I guess too on the lay of land around and behind berm ....... bearing in mind that the usual richochet is in fact heavily depleted on energy anyways. If it travels a distance then it is close to spent IMO.

If I managed a range I doubt I'd be worried about FMJ's much more than any other profile.

El Tejon
September 21, 2003, 12:01 AM
I've heard this before in Tejas. Can't someone just rent a truck and a bulldozer down there?

Would it not depend on the consistency of the soil? Rocks and such?

JohnKSa
September 21, 2003, 12:23 AM
It could be a soil issue. The soil round these parts is predominantly black gumbo clay. It dries pretty hard and has a lot of white chalk-like rock in it. The soil out at the range seemed to be a lot sandier than average. There are some sandy pockets of soil in this part of the country.

I must be a little slow tonight, because I don't understand your question about bulldozer & trucks... The berms were originally built with a bulldozer.

UnknownSailor
September 21, 2003, 01:24 AM
The Gunsite square range we were using for my 250 class had a dirt berm, and the outdoor simulator we used on Friday was right next to it. I heard plenty of rounds howling over my head while working the "problem" presented to me by the instructor. Added a bit of realism, lemme tell ya.

Of course, this was pistol ammunition, not rifle, so YMMV.

El Tejon
September 21, 2003, 10:41 AM
John, you buy river clay (or whatever you have down there that stops bullets really well), put it in the truck, deliver the clay to the range, use the bulldozer to incorporate it into the berms.:)

Dave T
September 21, 2003, 11:08 AM
(some state regulating agency that inspects the range)

I'd be willing to bet this is a case of a bureaucrat with a little bit of knowledge (heard some where that FMJs ricochet) and a lot of authority flexing his burearcratic muscles. His mind is made up and he doesn't want to hear the facts or, he's screwing with them because he can!

Greybeard
September 21, 2003, 11:08 AM
It is my understanding that the problem with FMJs can be when hitting the ground well short of the berm, not in the berm. SPs and HPs less prone to "skip". And bullets sometimes do strange things ...

If Backwoods is the subject range, then think about how those shooters on sporting clays course beyond the berm might feel about zingers ... Not sure how much of the land to south of berm belongs to them, but those 223s could travel a long ways ... Anyhoo, once again, their sandbox, their rules ...

txgolfer45
September 21, 2003, 02:07 PM
Was this over at Elm Fork (used to be Winchester) Range? I heard the same thing about FMJ on the rifle range. Beyond the gun range is a golf course and off to the right is the skeet/sporting clays range.

JohnKSa
September 21, 2003, 11:16 PM
The range is the Outback Sportsman's club which is north of Cumby.

Cumby is about 45 miles east of Dallas on I-30.

There have been complaints from the neighbors, but so far nothing serious.

The owner seemed to think that the slope of the berm was gradual enough to allow ricochets.

Pumpkinheaver
September 21, 2003, 11:22 PM
I don't care what type of bullet you shoot out of a high powered rifle if you hit in front of or behind the berm it will bounce a ways before it stops. I don't see a fmj being any worse.

El Tejon
September 21, 2003, 11:42 PM
Grey, if they are missing the berm entirely down there, then why would bullet type matter???:confused:

Maybe y'all should clay the entire range.:)

JohnKSa
September 22, 2003, 12:39 AM
Ok, a description of the range is in order, I guess.

It's a 100,200,300 yard range.

The ranges are laid out side by side with no separating berms and arranged so that all ranges use a single long berm placed out beyond 300 yards.

I suppose that it's possible to shoot at the 100 yard targets with something relatively slow and have it hit the ground in front of the berm which is another 200 yards downrange. But the 100 yard targets are placed so you would need about 5 feet of drop for that to happen.

Maybe .22LR or a pistol round could get that much drop between 100 and 300 yards...that's a LOT of drop though.

I suspect that what's happening is operator error and has little to do with what kind of bullets they are using. People are probably using the 100 yard range without zeroing at the 50 yard range first. The 50 and 25 yard ranges are off to one side and have their own berms. The badly adjusted sights might cause them to skip rounds off the ground in front of the berm.

Is the consensus that if I don't hit the ground in front of the berm, I can safely shoot FMJ?

CasualShooter
September 22, 2003, 01:02 AM
The owner seemed to think that the slope of the berm was gradual enough to allow ricochets.

If that were the case, then it would seem that concern over bullet type would be mis-directed. The solution would be to Fix the Berm! :(

Matt1911
September 22, 2003, 06:44 AM
Indiana's state ranges no longer allow(although nobody ever checks)fmj's. The reason i was given by a dnr officer,are they cause more damage to the birm=more money in mantinace.

telewinz
September 22, 2003, 07:06 AM
Does your range carry liability insurance? If so maybe it's the insurance company's requirement.

Archer
September 22, 2003, 01:19 PM
Unknownsailor said:

The Gunsite square range we were using for my 250 class had a dirt berm, and the outdoor simulator we used on Friday was right next to it. I heard plenty of rounds howling over my head while working the "problem" presented to me by the instructor

Sailor, it sounds like you were on the South (square) range and West Wash (outdoor simulator).

As far as I know, all the square ranges at Gunsite have sand berms with what I was told are auger based lead mining systems.

This allows the backstop sand to be sifted of bullets and other objects on a regular basis- there dont seem to be rocks or hard objects (except the steel popper plates) in any of the backstops there.

This is important, because the relative lack of hard objects cuts down on the chance of splashback by a significant amount.

Bravo11
September 22, 2003, 03:54 PM
I was at the range(outdoor) the other day and heard a ricochet that came from a glancing shot off of a steel target holder. A FMJ that never made it to the dirt berm.

Sunray
September 22, 2003, 04:31 PM
Yep, but it may have been imaginary. The CF spends lots of its meagre budget digging out back stops. They calculate the number of rounds fire into each position and dig 'em out accordingly.
What 'state agency' regulates your ranges? That sounds like BS to me. Not that I have any idea.

JohnKSa
September 22, 2003, 10:36 PM
I don't know what agency regulates ranges. This range is way out in the sticks, so it has to be a state or county agency, and I'm guessing state agency since the county (can't even remember the name--it's the one east of Hunt) isn't likely to have the money or time to fiddle with such things.

I would have liked to ask a lot more questions, but I had to kind of tread lightly because the company gun club has a pretty sweet deal with him and I can't make him mad.

I just can't believe that a bullet that hits the berm can ricochet and cause a problem. That's got to be a problem with the berm, not a bullet problem. Changing the bullet type may reduce the chances of ricochet, but it's not going to eliminate a flaw in the range construction.

Besides, if this is such a problem, how come I've never heard a single ricochet in the two years we've been holding club matches out there? I would venture to say that nearly all of the competitors shoot FMJ.

This whole discussion may be a non-issue. I got word today that he has posted the range. He may start getting more careful in screening ammunition now too.

As sweet as the club deal is with the range, if I have to start shooting HP and SP ammo, the extra cost will nullify the savings.

dawg23
September 22, 2003, 11:43 PM
John KSA Quote:"I don't know what agency regulates ranges. This range is way out in the sticks, so it has to be a state or county agency, and I'm guessing state agency since the county (can't even remember the name--it's the one east of Hunt) isn't likely to have the money or time to fiddle with such things."



I doubt that it's a state agency. In Houston, Carter's Country runs several outdoor range w/ dirt berms. Also there are similar ranges at Pearland (PSC), Eagle Lake and Conroe (Thunder Range).

ALL of these ranges allow FMJ ammo.

Greybeard
September 23, 2003, 12:39 AM
El Tejon - Not ignoring ya, just not much time for computerin' these days ...
The public range I was referring to (Backwoods, east of Denton) gets real busy this time of year. They've got a 2 X lumber overhead baffle (with some angle iron framing :confused: ) just a few yards downrange that I'm sure would just slow down centerfire rifle rounds, FMJs probably the least.

IIRC, a pretty reputable gunsmith friend down in Carrollton is the one who told me about the "more skip" theory with FMJs ... Next time up at Backwoods, I'll try to get the straight scoop from an old RO there who is a straight shooter in more ways than one ...

TarpleyG
September 23, 2003, 12:30 PM
I remember when I was in boot camp and we went up to the north part of Camp Pendleton for a bit to do some training and part of that was some night time live fire stuff with tracers. I saw PLENTY of bullets going vertical off dirt backstops. Of course the backstops were at about a 45 degree angle, not steeper like most rifle ranges.

GT

Double Naught Spy
September 23, 2003, 01:10 PM
JohnSKA, there is no laws or regulatory agencies that determine you can't have a dirt berm and FMJ ammo. I know of ranges in Dallas and Denton counties that only allow soft point ammo for their berms and I don't shoot at those ranges. The Dallas Pistol Club in NE Dallas County and the North Texas Shooters Association in norther Denton County both have dirt berms and allow fmj ammo. Of course, the Dallas Pistol Club is pretty much limited to pistol ammo. In Collin County, east of McKinney, there is the Collin County Gun Range and to the best of my knowledge, they (at least used to) allow FMJ rifle ammo.

Let's see, Quail Ridge off of I-35W does not allow FMJ rifle ammo and the same is for Back Wood or Back Country on Highway 380 in eastern Denton County.

I have shot tracer rounds into berms and been able to see where the ricocheting rounds go. A .223 at 50 yards can ricochet out of a berm, no doubt. Generally speaking, the rounds impacting a steep berm will pop up quite some distance and then drop. My guess is that the rounds I shot gained no more than about 50 feet and landed within 50 feet of the original aim point.

The comments about the 'state' not allowing dirt berms and FMJ is just crap. It is an appeal to an absent authority figure so as to place the blame with this unknown authority and to keep the folks at the range from having to debate with shooters as to why they can't shoot FMJ.

JohnKSa
September 23, 2003, 10:39 PM
The comments about the 'state' not allowing dirt berms and FMJ is just crap. It is an appeal to an absent authority figure so as to place the blame with this unknown authority and to keep the folks at the range from having to debate with shooters as to why they can't shoot FMJ.
That sounds very plausible...

Thumper
September 23, 2003, 10:44 PM
TarpleyG beat me to it. Full auto night fire is very enlightening (no pun intended).

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