Bowling Pin Ricochet


April 3, 2010, 10:49 PM
Has anyone been hit from a ricochet from a bowling pin? How common is it and has anyone suffered any serious damage?

I got hit last week in the chest from a 9mm 115 LRN, hit the pin then came back and hit me in the chest. Hurt and left a bruise but that is all. All I can think is the pin filled up with other bullets and sent the fired one back. I saw it coming but it was moving too fast. I guess my concern is if they can come back faster than just enough to leave a bruise.....I shoot with my kid and would hate for something dumb like this to happen to him, or one of my friends.

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April 3, 2010, 10:54 PM
Wow I shoot pins a lot and have never had that happen. How close was the pin?

April 3, 2010, 11:20 PM
Bowling pins are made from Rock Maple, and are hard. I've seen lots of rounds bounce off of them. The key is to use a round hot enough to knock them off the table right away.

Hope this helps.


Steve C
April 3, 2010, 11:21 PM
I've seen bullets come back off various hard backstops and targets. This is why eye protection is important. They'll hit you hard enough to bruise and would put an eye out if that where it hits.

April 3, 2010, 11:38 PM
Just a couple of weeks ago, at an indoor range, I was loading my revolver when the guy two lanes over let one go and I felt a sting in a my neck and both sholders. Scared the c@!p out of me and I yelled stop shooting please. I felt my neck and pulled a piece of jacket out and showed it to him. I asked if these were hand loads and he assured me they were factory 9mm. He was way cool about it and went and got one of the staff and asked to watch him shoot. We never figured out what happened but my theory is that he hit the metal clip that holds the target. He was only shooting at about seven yards. I picked up all of the pieces of the jacket and it seems like every piece hit me. I had only a small cut for each piece I picked up. Now I know why you wear the safety glasses.

David Wile
April 3, 2010, 11:48 PM
Hey folks,

Shooting bowling pins can be fun, but I tend to keep them at least 30 yards or so away from me. Back in the 1960s I had a replica .36 caliber Remington Navy revolver loaded with six round balls, and I was looking around the farm for something to just plink with a safe backstop. I don't remember exactly on what I was sitting, but as I looked around, I saw the fence posts not more than 15 yards or so away, and they were backstopped by a hill. I took a two handed grip as I sat there, cocked the hammer, and took aim at a knot in one of the fence posts. I squeezed the trigger, and before I could do any more than blink my eyes, I thought I saw the round ball bounce off the knot and come straight back at me. Within a fraction of a second, I knew the ball came back because I felt it strike the middle knuckle of my right shooting hand. I looked at my hand, saw it was not penetrated, but it certainly was quickly turning blue where my right middle finger joined my hand. I looked down between my feet, and there was the round ball slightly out of round from hitting the wood fence post.

I had cast the round bullets from a relatively hard alloy rather than using dead soft lead, and I suspect that played some part in the bullet bouncing back. I also looked at the fence post which I did hit in the middle of the knot, and I realized it was a really old oak fence post which was very hard, and I suspect the knot was even harder.

I never expected that to happen, but I can assure you that I never shot at anything again that was such a hard material and so close to me when I shot. I can have fun with bowling pins, but I stay a bit further away than I was from that fence post. While I did not do any serious damage to my hand, that same round ball would certainly ruined one of my eyes if it had hit one of them.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

April 3, 2010, 11:51 PM
The pin was probably 30-35 feet and in the dirt not on a table. They had already been knocked over and I was just spinning them. The bullet went in the pin as the first half was deformed and had jagged sharp edges with wood in it. I saw the pin spin and the bullet headed my way really fast. I second the safety glasses issue.

I usually shoot the pins until they are totally destroyed and there are always lots of bullets that fall out toward the end. I have noticed many of the bullets that fall out have been hit multiple times by other bullets during the process.

April 4, 2010, 06:44 AM
Only once in over 60 years of shooting have I had a richochet come back on me. The only reason we could think of at the time was that it was a perfect hit on the head of a nail in the frame at 10 yards with a .357. It hurt, plus it scared the heII out of me. And I'll second, third and fourth the safety glasses!!!

April 4, 2010, 07:16 AM
My daughter was hit in the leg from a 38sp hand load after shooting at an old apple tree about 15 feet away. You could see where it skimmed over the snow. The bullet was very deformed.

My heart sank when I heard her say "ouch", scared the crap out of me. She was the one shooting but I had told her to shoot the tree. It didn't leave a mark on her. That happened a few years ago and it caused me to so some thinking about targets.

April 4, 2010, 07:41 AM
I've tried using a Beretta 92FS several times for Bowling Pins using 9mm 147gr RNBB bullets, and seen them bounce away at up to a 70 degree angle, once nailing a light fixture almost over a Pin. No more.

I shoot .45 acp at them now, and maybe .40 S&W soon, with blunt-nosed bullets, and no more ricochets.


April 4, 2010, 08:24 AM
Shooting bowling pins can be fun, but I tend to keep them at least 30 yards or so away from meSame here. 30 yards and out. Lots of fun.

April 4, 2010, 09:02 AM
Shooting bowling pins can be fun, but I tend to keep them at least 30 yards or so away from me

Yep, same thing with falling steel plates as well. When your in there close to the target chances of wearing a rebound are higher than if you're backed off a ways.

I shot quite a bit of speed plates and always getting sprayed with bullet frags, hence the need to wear eye protection, and sometimes be hit by the major residule bullet mass that was returned to sender(yep sure do they do sting) but normally not enough to penetrate the skin.

Lower velocity target rounds on hard surfaces however, tend not to expend most of their energy deforming themselves and bounce back at a great rate of knots , still mostly intact.

The bowling pins while having a lesser chance that a bullet will bounce straight back at the shooter(with it's rounded surface), it's still not something that can be ruled out totally.

Back off, make it a bit a challange and have fun. ;)

April 4, 2010, 09:41 AM
Never on bowling pins. I just had surgury to remove pieces of a bullet that returned off a steel plate. The round hit the edge of my safety glasses and went into my head above my left eye brow. I now have a nice scar and I still think they did not get all the pieces since I found another bump in that area. The only thing that saved my eye was safety glasses.

April 4, 2010, 10:21 AM
I was hit. Using Hornady 180gr. soft point, factory loads. They burned right through the pins but for one. 20 yards away I was hit on my thigh. We were the only ones in the area. My friend didn't believe me till I picked up the still warm slug and showed it to him.

April 4, 2010, 10:24 AM
I saw the fence posts not more than 15 yards or so away, and they were backstopped by a hill.

My Brother-in-law was shooting at a hedge post with his 1911 at about 15 yds and we had one come back at us. Don't know how close it was but we could hear it and that was enough for both of us. I think both our faces looked like this :uhoh:.

April 4, 2010, 10:55 AM
Shooting bowling pins can be fun, but I tend to keep them at least 30 yards or so away from me.

Same here. We generally go for at least 40 yards with handguns calibers, not only for safety, but to make it more of a challenge. For rifle, it gets moved out to 100 or more. One of our favorite targets is a bowling pin hung from a support arm by an eyehook and a bungee cord. They can take a lot of hits from handguns(except of course the .460), and hits are easily identified by movement. We also have a game where one gets X-amount of time to empty the cylinder/mag at the pin using the various guns taken that day. At the end of the day, the one with the highest score wins. The stationary pin is easy to hit, but once it starts swinging it's a challenge. Hitting the bungee and making the pin fall is a minus two.

I wonder with the pin laying on the ground, that maybe the OP hit the heavy plastic "shoe" that is on the bottom of the pin. Being a good inch thick, attached to solid rock maple and with the pin laying loose on the ground where impact would push the pin away and lower penetration, may have led to the "bouncing back" of the bullet.

April 4, 2010, 11:46 AM
The pin was probably 30-35 feet and in the dirt not on a table. Only shoot them off the table. The pin must move when hit.

April 4, 2010, 12:18 PM
I was shooting pins at my home range many years ago with G.I.Ball ammo. At the time I had an Agway feed store next to my property line about 100 yds to the side and 100 yds behind my firing line. On a Saturday morning the owner called me over and handed me a .45 slug that was laying in front of his door when he opened that morning! I quit shooting pins on the range after that.
I have been hit by bird shot bouncing back off trees while shooting sporting clays more than once.

April 4, 2010, 12:23 PM
Is it possible the pin was hit in the top, the bullet went thru and the pin and it spun directing the bullet back the way it came? I have often wondered if it was possible that a target like a piece of wood which was not secured could redirect a bullet if it moved before the bullet exited. Maybe that's a question for Mythbusters.

April 4, 2010, 01:06 PM
If the bowling pin had as many rounds in it as you say then it is also possable that a previously fired round that was stuck in one end of the pin flew out when you hit the other end of the pin. Spinning the pin and throwing that other round at you and not the one you fired. Teder-Toder effect. <grin>

Fence posts are like a large spring. The post has flex and also it bounces back in the ground. Same as trying to drive a large nail into a 2 x 4 at one end while only the other end is held.

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