Hit with ricochet today at the firing range


March 12, 2010, 03:02 PM
I went to my local range (seven-lane, 25yd, indoor) in Raleigh today to get some more practice in with the Springfield XD40. I had an uneasy feeling when I walked in and every lane was taken by rapid-firing cowboys whose targets looked more like a Swiss-cheese Rorschach drawing than a true target. I went to lane #4 and started to hang my target when I felt a sharp pain in my right chest. I looked down and pinned against my shirt was a nicely flattened lead bullet. I peeled it off my shirt like you would peel off a sticker.

The real pain didn't set in until a few minutes later and after lifting up my shirt, I noticed that I had a large red welt where the bullet had struck (like getting hit with a golf ball if you've ever had the misfortune of being hit by one).

The RSO on this range consists of the cashier monitoring the cameras from outside the range, which roughly translates to no RSO at all. Although it was impossible to pin down where the bullet came from, I suspect that one of the cowboys shot the floor or ceiling and the bullet ultimately found its way back to my chest. Thankfully, most of the energy had been dissipated before it found me.

I promptly packed up my gear and left. I doubt I will ever return to this range. There is no way to prevent all accidents, of course, but in no way should six VERY bad shooters be allowed to rapid fire like that.

Lesson learned: Trust your instincts. I had a bad feeling when I walked into the range and saw who the other shooters were. I should have listened to that little voice in my head saying to walk away...just walk away...

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March 12, 2010, 03:07 PM
If it was symmetrically flattened, I doubt it was from the floor or ceiling.

March 12, 2010, 03:10 PM
Not symmetrical at all (very elongated on one side) but very flat indeed.

March 12, 2010, 03:16 PM
found a 45 acp at least 245 grain misshapened at my feet, was flaten on two sides and on a little banged up on the nose. Looks like it did some sliding across something. Range person said no one here shooting that size bullet. Well i spept my area and pick up my brass and between sweepings it appeared. Duh.

any way, glad you did not get seriously hurt.

March 12, 2010, 03:17 PM
An excellent example of why protective glasses are needed when shooting and why heeding that "little voice" is always a good idea.

The Bushmaster
March 12, 2010, 03:22 PM
Strange. Most, if not all, indoor ranges don't allow rapid firing just for that reason. I agree. I wouldn't go back either. In fact I would have made sure the managment knew what happened and why you didn't plan on returning.

March 12, 2010, 03:26 PM
@tack and hso -- yep, definitely learned from this one. I was lucky.
@Bushmaster -- I don't think the employees have a clue what goes on in the range. Best bet is to find another indoor range where safety is stressed and shoot there instead.

March 12, 2010, 03:27 PM
I've been hit by a ricochet that penetrated the skin superficially. Not a big deal, picked it out of my arm and kept on shooting. I guess that is a risk we take when shooting at an indoor range. Wear safety glasses and shoot on.

March 12, 2010, 03:28 PM
I find it strange that you were able to see that the six very bad shooters,were truly bad shooters. Or just using rapid fire. It sounds to me that you just walked in and this happened right away. This type of thing could have happened with six very good shooters or just one. We can be glad that you were not injured more than a lump. You could have been killed.
This is one of those wrong place- wrong time things. Hard to blame anyone here.
I was hit myself and it put a hole the size of a marble in my upper chest. Inch deep,Hurt like you would not beleave. And the shooter was my brother.

March 12, 2010, 03:29 PM
Wow. Thank God that thing was not going faster. The indoor range near me has no tolerance for rapid fire. I imagine for just that reason. That being said though, they DO rent FA's but they use a totally different section JUST for them. I'd say head to my range but it is about 2 - 3 hours south of you.

March 12, 2010, 03:36 PM
This is why I think gun ranges and the law should let you wear/own a bullet proof vest. Bad things happen. Glad you are ok

March 12, 2010, 03:38 PM
I find it strange that you were able to see that the six very bad shooters,were truly bad shooters. Or just using rapid fire. It sounds to me that you just walked in and this happened right away. This type of thing could have happened with six very good shooters or just one. We can be glad that you were not injured more than a lump. You could have been killed.
This is one of those wrong place- wrong time things. Hard to blame anyone here.
I was hit myself and it put a hole the size of a marble in my upper chest. Inch deep,Hurt like you would not beleave. And the shooter was my brother.

Not sure if I follow you, Gordy. The evidence of the bad shooting were the targets as stated in the original post. Yes, wrong place, wrong time, but a great deal of mishaps can be mitigated. Not completely eliminated, but mitigated.

March 12, 2010, 03:39 PM
@Gouranga and Zach -- thanks! I may check that out...much appreciated.

March 12, 2010, 03:39 PM
I find it interesting how widely varied the range operating procedures are from one range to the next. There are some ranges here in central TX that have absolutely zero RSO oversight and you are left to your own devices or more appropriately, "shoot at your own risk". Then there are others which are highly regulated by professionals and for which you first have to attend orientation and safety overview meetings prior to using. I am in strong favor of the latter and only go to the lesser-monitored ranges during the midweek when I know that I'll basically have the place to myself. I don't believe that ricochets should ever be an issue at a well designed range which is being utilized correctly and on which safety is a main priority.

March 12, 2010, 03:46 PM

I think it's your week to play the Lottery's..

Possible effect of a bullet hitting one of the deflectors in front of the clips that ya hang your target on..

I've seen a few that were hit by something BIG and flattened the V front end.

Adding "the chance" of another bullet hitting in that exact spot and it would absorb enough of the force (thru give/sway) then returning into your chest without any worse effects is the final thought on why I think you should play the Lottery's this week.. ;)

Luck is a wonderful thing.. (and you have/had it)


Ps.. 10% commission would be the_kind..

March 12, 2010, 03:46 PM
@dacavasi -- I couldn't agree more!

March 12, 2010, 03:47 PM
LOL, Lonestar! :) I think I will fill my lotto card out today!

March 12, 2010, 03:51 PM
Happened to me at GUN CITY in Nashville TN a couple of years ago...

They acted like it was the first time it ever happened. I found that they have a serious ricochet problem...I've not been there since. And my office is only about a mile from them.

Just wanted to get their name out there again!


March 12, 2010, 03:55 PM
I must say that I didn't understand that the targets were a true target and not a drawing(my bad) I use home made targets sometimes. I don't shoot indoors to much as the club I belong to has a outdoor range. Sucks in the cold. As you refered to the guys as rapid-fire cowboys I was mislead to beleave that you were bashing the peaple and there shooting style. Not there ability to hit the target.:)

March 12, 2010, 03:56 PM
Ah, Gordy, gotcha! :) No worries!

Jim Watson
March 12, 2010, 03:58 PM
I have been hit by at least bullet fragments on every pistol range I have shot on.
It normally relates to the condition of the bullet traps or steel plate targets which can get pretty beat up after a few years' use.
I have a flattened but complete bullet that hit a friend. Apparently it bounced off a rock in the range set up in an old quarry with no artificial traps or berms.

No connection to cowboys and rapid fire no matter how distasteful those might be.
Not much the clerk laughingly called a range officer can do about it, either.

Wear glasses at all times. Even if you are shooting by yourself, you can take "return fire" from your own efforts. I have. You will get some cuts and bruises.

Long ago, before shooting glasses were common, a top skeet shooter lost his right eye to a shot pellet that bounced off a clay pigeon. He taught himself to shoot left handed and got back to his original form. WE can wear glasses and save the work.

March 12, 2010, 04:02 PM
I'm surprised more people on this forum have not told you that being on ANY shooting rang, especially indoor ones (that are usually at closer proximity to the targets and have hard areas all around), will subject you to the OCCASIONAL bouncing bullet. Most are just like you experienced; flattened, and retaining little energy, and capable of inflicting little or no permanent damage if struck by one. It is the risk we run in ANY shooting environment; don't take it personal. Bowling pin shoots are notorious for bullets bouncing back, and even longer outdoor ranges land a few high power bullets back at the shooter or bystander. It doens't necessarily imply that the range is dangerous, or the shooters are reckless. It just, by law of averages, happens sometimes. If you become fearful of the range ricochet too much, you simply will not ever shoot on an indoor range, and maybe lose desire to risk it on outdoor ranges. It's like skiing. You can plan on not ever getting hurt, but if you do it enough, you probably will. Rules of the game. I have been hit about 4-5 times in my life, mostly indoors at bowling pin events, once or twice outside shooting steel targets. Wear eye protection, brush it off, and act like John Wayne. Works for me, pilgrim.......

March 12, 2010, 04:12 PM
@Jim and Sharps -- good points, thanks. I definitely shrugged this off and won't be scared off of indoor ranges (and I ALWAYS wear safety glasses...always). While it's impossible to say where the bullet came from, I do feel that rapid firing shooters with bad aim were contributing factors. The law of averages being what it is, contributing factors like this can skew the odds significantly.

Funny you mention skiing. I have been a big skier my whole life and take safety seriously (I've been wearing a helmet for the last 10 years). Yes, I have had the occasional wipeout and strained knee, but I have remained relatively safe over the years. Fast skiers in congested zones, however, greatly increase the odds of someone getting hurt. Can you fall down alone and get hurt? Of course (and I have), but most of the serious injuries occur from reckless skiers and boarders colliding with others.

March 12, 2010, 04:18 PM
my clubs range must of had the indoor backstop worn out one time we went alone in the middle of the night and i had a .45acp come back and bounce off a chair and land on the seat. i figured it was just a fluke must of hit the carrier or something and kept shooting a few shots later one bounced back and tapped me in the arm pretty good i decided i would like to keep my teeth so i packed up and left i had the bounced back rounds somewhere but unfortunately lost them they were pretty cool

March 12, 2010, 04:42 PM
First, let me say how glad I am that you weren't injured, you just used up one of your twelve lives. Next, I'm glad you listened to your instincts by never going back. The range I go to is very adament about rapid fire, they really enforce the rule, they have to. Does anyone think they have these rules without a purpose? I would imagine that the liability insurance alone would cause range owners to keep an eagle out not to mention thee fact they must comply with Federal, State & local Government regulations.
Fortunately for me I'm retired so I only go to the range early in the morning when it's practically empty. Monday & Friday mornings are my routine.

March 12, 2010, 04:46 PM
@jack -- cheers, much appreciated. I agree with your points. I will vote with my wallet and won't be back to this range.

March 12, 2010, 04:57 PM
Rapid fire isn't permitted at the indoor range I use in the winter, or at the outdoor range I have a membership with. Two seconds between shots is the rule at both ranges. Even with the two second rule I manage to get tagged by copper jackets, or bullet fragments pretty frequently at the indoor range. Most I attribute to the round hitting the steel target retainer. I always wear glasses, a ball cap and Levi jacket when shooting for that very reason. Judging from the holes in the shooting bench, lane partitions, the pock marked ceiling, floor and side walls I would say cowboy is a polite term for some of the shooters. If the range is occupied by a large number of folks wearing their trousers down around their ankles and their hats on sideways I usually wait for the crowd to clear out. Their pistol craft, or lack thereof, tends to make me nervous at times. JMHO

March 12, 2010, 05:14 PM
Good Luck is a wonderful thing..

Fixed it:D

March 12, 2010, 05:24 PM
I quit going to indoor ranges years ago. Too much toxic smoke, people of "unknown ethics", etc. The real iceing on the cake was when some gangbangers came in and started shooting holding their 9's sideways.

Jim Watson
March 12, 2010, 05:34 PM
What does "rapid fire" have to do with bouncebacks?

Commercial indoor ranges adjust to the lowest common denominator and play it as safe as they can. Doesn't mean I can't safely crank out sub quarter second splits in IDPA mode.

March 12, 2010, 07:09 PM
Welcome to the club. I got hit in the chest with a .45 ricochet at an indoor range. It didn't cause any injury, but certainly scared me pretty good.

I talked to the Range Master. He told me it happens pretty frequently :eek: because of the backstop they had.

I never went to that range again.

March 12, 2010, 08:02 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // Glad it was not worse.

Yep eyes, ears and good judgement at the range.
I go in the morning if possible, just me and the local LEOs.
There are signs saying no rapid fire but it happens. I use the farthest lane to the right, it seems more people sweep others with the muzzle to their left.

Saturdays are the worse,the last time I went on a Sat. the guy in the next lane leaned over my shoulder, smelling like he had a beer in there with him, and asked to shoot my snubbie. While I as shooting! Somehow I had just run out of ammo :rolleyes:and hit the road. (not normal for this range two guys were sharing a lane and I think his sober buddy signed in)

Where I go there are two, 6 lane ranges in one building and once range #1 gets down to 2 open lanes I try to get them to open range #2.

The local indoor range is much closer than the outdoor range and perfect if you have it to yourself.

March 12, 2010, 08:59 PM
The real iceing on the cake was when some gangbangers came in and started shooting holding their 9's sideways

That will get you kicked out of my local range QUICK.

March 12, 2010, 09:56 PM
What does "rapid fire" have to do with bouncebacks?Plenty, the most common as I know it being muzzle jump after shot #1 pull trigger before reaquiring target, #2 goes wild.

March 12, 2010, 10:09 PM
I have not been hit, yet, by a ricochet , but I did hit a guy with one of my ricochets. I was shooting steel silhouettes (outdoor range) when i saw the guy about 15 to 20 yards away recoil and his girlfriend started checking out his head. I checked with him and he was fine, i left quickly though. It scared the crap out of me.

March 12, 2010, 10:12 PM
if i walk into an indoor range and see a bunch of wannabes who probably aren't the most responsible shooters, i usually would just leave

March 12, 2010, 11:45 PM
I think I will fill my lotto card out today!

Let me pick your numbers: 9,22,25,38,40,44,45 :D One might hit :neener:

March 12, 2010, 11:54 PM
I caught one once at an indoor range, just barely broke skin on my forearm. Did scare me pretty solidly, but nothing serious. It was a couple years ago, but i do not remember anyone shooting stupidly or throwing rapid fire. Glad it was not in my eyes for sure. I honestly think it was a fluke really, but that made me always remember my shooting glasses.

March 12, 2010, 11:55 PM
oldie but a goodie


March 13, 2010, 05:22 PM
I won't go to a range that DOESN'T permit rapid fire. How else are you able to practice double taps, Mozambiques and any other pistol fire drill that develops skill in real world situations?

March 13, 2010, 07:21 PM
I used to shoot at a club where the end of the indoor range was bins of cut up tires. They might have been good at one time, but the bullets were never cleaned out. There was so much metal in there, having bullets come flying back out at you was not unusual, either what you fired into the backstop or bullets that got flung back at you from being hit by your bullets.

March 13, 2010, 07:24 PM
I won't go to a range that DOESN'T permit rapid fire. How else are you able to practice double taps, Mozambiques and any other pistol fire drill that develops skill in real world situations?

Vonderek, I'm with you on that. My indoor range doesn't allow full auto weapons but does allow rapid fire of handguns or rifles that shoot a pistol cartridge.

I eventually found that simply putting carefully placed holes in paper eventually gets old and really isn't going to help you much in a self defense situation. This was especially true for me since I wanted to develop skills that would be useful if I ever had to actually protect myself or my family.

Yes, paper punching is necessary drill to learn the fundamentals and developing muscle memory. And I literally shot thousands of rounds punching paper and drilling on the shooting basics.

But I knew I had to ramp my skill level up if I was ever going to feel confident in a self defense situation. So I did and now I do. The reward for my efforts is pretty nice ... a truly comfortable confidence that I never expected I would feel when I first started moving past paper punching. Sort of a quiet confidence in knowing that this weapon I carry can, if required, be deployed with devastating effect.

Putting 7 rounds in a five inch circle at seven yards in under five seconds ... you just ain't gonna get there if you don't push yourself at a range that will accommodate your practice.

March 14, 2010, 12:37 AM
I had a similar experience, but the ricochet I was hit by, was my own. Shooting plinkers at the local range, one didn't go down (must have been rusted up or something). 2 bullet fragments in the calf. Sceered the jeebers out of the friends who were with me :)

March 14, 2010, 09:37 AM
Good thread! I had no idea ricochets were so common. I've learned a lot.

March 14, 2010, 10:06 AM
One indoor range I go to allows full auto weapons, has no range master at the line, and lots of foreigners with little or no gun handling experience. The lane dividers, ceilings, benches and walls (including the wall BEHIND the firing line) are riddled with bullet holes.

If you ever want an exercise in situational awareness, go there on a busy Saturday afternoon! Just getting from the door to your lane will make your hairs stand on end. You'll be scoping the room like you just walked into a biker bar.

March 14, 2010, 10:28 AM
OP, by your own words, you don't know where the ricochet came from. If you think it came directly from the floor, http://www.physics.unc.edu/about/labs/physics_101%2820%29.php

I'm wondering how the other shooter's speed or style of shooting comes into play.
Define "real target", because not everyone goes to a range hoping to make one ragged hole at a careful relaxed pace.

Even on a well designed range, with shots landing in the intended backstop, you can get ricochets. Most of the time it comes back in the form of jacketing. You may have gotten a "thump" instead of a paper cut. Bad luck for you that day. Don't go blaming the other shooters on the line without looking at the range conditions themselves.

March 14, 2010, 10:41 AM

If the range in question is the one I think it is. Then yes, it is pretty much just left up to the guys in the cashiers booth watching. I haven't been there in a long while since it looks like the range could use a real good cleaning.There are all manners of strikes and holes in the walls, floor, and ceiling. There are better places to be than that one. Have you been by the local county range? Much better disciple and real RSO's too!

Murphys Law
March 14, 2010, 10:43 AM
I believe its caused more by the conditiion or neglect of the range itself than the rapid fire. When the collection boxes at the bottom of the bullet traps are overflowing, bullets will be skipped back in the direction they came from because they have no place else to go. You did the right thing by leaving. I hope you complained to them at least before you left.

March 14, 2010, 10:53 AM
At least you didn't walk out with something under your skin.

Last week my friend's tricked-up 400CorBon 1911 he just received the barrel for had a canted compensator (he didn't know until now). On his last shot I felt a sharp sting on my right arm... what do I see, bleeding. Crap, I got a copper shrapnel in my right arm just where the bicep and forearm join, and it wasn't under the surface when I tried to take it out, it's in for good.
The day after I found a 2mm long-2mm wide copper shave that found it's way IN my left t-shirt arm.

He returned the barrel for repair. Poor guy, he had just waited 3 months for the unique barrel.

March 14, 2010, 02:34 PM
wow reading this post is the exact reason i avoid one range.the one i go to is more money a hour but no jerks there.

March 14, 2010, 06:15 PM
I have shot steel targets in the backyard, bowling pins in and outside, and occasionally plinked on an indoor range. I have been struck more times shooting pins & steel than on the occasions I shot on an indoor range. I think shooting on MOST indoor ranges is safer than shooting competitively on bowling pins and steel targets, yet people do these events all the time. Shooting is inherently dangerous, but serious wounds or injury, on a whole, are not that frequent. I'll bet more people shoot than ski, but less people are hurt shooting than skiing.

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