Very FIRST time at a gunrange today and hit by a that normal????


October 18, 2010, 12:05 AM
Hey ya'll,

My whole family back home has been using guns for hunting and saftey for years now; however I have always been terrified. I decided to get to know guns and gun saftey, laws, etc.. better to educate myself and get over this I enrolled in a gun saftey/chl class. Fantastic, well versed/knowlegable instructor....

And then we went to the gun range. Let me preface this by saying that I have been to indoor ranges with my Dad before so was well aware of how loud they can be. This was a supposedly well reputed outdoor range though.

We drive up and there are numerous bays with 3 walled earthen berms. There were several competitions going on at the time in bays adjacent and farther down.

We got out of the truck to set up the tables, papers, etc...and I have to say my female intuition was in full RED alert. There were what seemed to be bullets flying through the air over are head and it was pretty clear from the sound that there were shotguns being fired on the other side of the berm...however in our direction. When I asked if this was safe and why aren't people shooting in a monodirection ala an indoor range, the answer was because of the type of competition going on. He also reassured me that the berms were both thick enough and high enough to prevent any bullets from entering our area.

This did not calm my fears in any way, shape, or form.

While the guys were continuing to set up I swear I heard "whizzing" and air right past my head and felt dirt being kicked up around us. We were no where near the skeet area so I mentioned this to the guys. They said it may be rock fragments. This still didn't seem normal. I was voicing my concern with them saying I was "just being overally paranoid" when literally, it seemed like warfare. Gun blasts opened up fairly rapidly and our whole area was peppered with the whizzing and flying dirt. Enough so that our instuctor commented "what the f*"....and that's right about when I felt something hot hit my neck. and I shouted "I just got hit by something".It was painful as all hell and my first thought was "i just got shot". I pulled my hand and there was no blood. Yay! our instructor asked immediatly asked if I was ok, instructed us to get behind/next to his truck and he went sprinting to the next berm to tell the people what had happened.

He came back, checked on me, apologized but said they were probably going to move the targets. The bb/bird shot was being fired into the ground, ricocheting up and over the berm. Needless, to say for my VERY FIRST GUN EXPERIENCE on my own...I was not moving from behind the truck because you could still very clearly here the whizzing and shot. And that's when, literally within the next minuet the guys gut peppered again.

We packed up asap and hauled ass out of there...making a stop by the adjacent berm to give them a polite (they did have loaded guns) piece of our minds about their negligant saftey and then to the front office to let them know.

My long winded questions are: 1) How common an occurence is this to be hit by shotgun ricochet?
2) If the people were notified that a person was just hit b/c of how they were firing/aiming are they in neglect to KEEP doing this action with the same outcome and 3) is that common for outdoor ranges to have people basically shooting at others...with just a wall of dirt in the way???

Needless to say, this did nothing to ease my fears.

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October 18, 2010, 12:13 AM
Our club has this happen often.
Thats why we wear eye protection.
Stuff bounces back if your unlucky. Dirt berms with a build up of lead projectiles will generate ricochets.

October 18, 2010, 12:17 AM
Wow I am so sorry for your experience!!

Weird set up they have there. I have been to a few out door ranges with berms as back stops but never to one where you could get caught in a crossfire or a situation as you have described.

Sounds like to me your inner voice works pretty well and there is much to be thankful for.

I think I would find a different place to shoot where you can concentrate on your stuff instead of playing dodge ball with sheet and shot guns.

Again just glad you were ok.

October 18, 2010, 12:20 AM
Thanks. The place is almost brand new and so far has a very good reputation on saftey. I just wasn't sure how common it was to get ricochet up and over a 20 foot high and lord knows how thick earthen berm. And if it there's no way that should happen, was the shooter at fault? I had ear and eye protection...but you really don't think about protecting your jugluar at a "safe" location.

I still plan on going and shooting for that part of my chl test...however, just didn't feel up to it after that today!

October 18, 2010, 12:27 AM
Wow, that is a horrible story. I feel so bad for you. I have never seen a range were you shoot at the next person with only a dirt berm between you and them. I have only been at ranges were everyone shoots in the same direction. I would not go back there. I dont know if I would call what happened to you a ricochet because you were in the line of fire. I have been hit one time by a peice of flying debris that I considered a ricochet. It was a golf ball that I shot at and came back and hit me in the chest. Same thing as you had, extreme pain followed by panic but no blood. Sorry you had a bad experience. This is the place for encouragement and advice. Dont give up. Try and find someone you trust with your life to take shooting. In my family some of my sisters are the best shots.

October 18, 2010, 12:30 AM
Sorry you had such an alarming first experience. To answer your questions, yes everything you described is commonplace if a 3 gun competition is going on.

Whizzing richochets, fragment showers, clay frags are just part of the scenery. It scared me too, my first time out. One stage involved shooting steel targets with pistol & shotgun, and I was hit by a triangle shaped bullet fragment. It burned and actually went part way through my shirt. I thought I was shot too.

It's unnerving at first but now it doesn't bother me. Proper eye & hearing protection are a must. I have a healthy respect for bullet splatter, and I stay well back when people are shooting on steel. I can't really offer and opinion on the 'negelect' question without seeing the set up or knowing more about the event.

During competition it is common to be shooting at a backstop berm with shooters on the other side.

October 18, 2010, 12:33 AM
Thanks guys! I don't want to give up on learning about guns and shooting b/c like I said, just about everyone in my family back home is well versed. They were pretty unnverved by it but I want to stay positive. Thanks for lettingme know that set up with just a dirt berm is NOT normal and the words of encouragement...on a funnier note, I have had a similar golfball ricochet experience! Thankfully noone got hurt, but I do feel if the range is going to sanction competiotions knowing that directional firing is happening with only a mere earth berm for protection...well, that just dosen't seem to smart!

October 18, 2010, 12:42 AM
It was a ricochet of the shot off of the ground on the other side of a larger berm... Unfortunately it happens when a range is built with space constraints...This is not an error in the design of the range, but an error in the rules (or what has been allowed.) Unless one's target is within a few yards of the berm, the center of the range should not be used.... For instance, at the range I use, the rifle range is 100 yds and surrounded by large berms... If one shoots at closer than the maximum 100yds, then they must set their targets up in front of and shoot into the side berms.. they cannot, by rule, set up a target stand at say 25 or 50 yds at the center of the range unless previously approved or in a match (in which case, the pistol bays and range would not be used.)

I am sorry for your experience, I hope you wont let it push you away from the joys of shooting and firearm ownership..

October 18, 2010, 12:46 AM
Yep. Perfectly normal for competition.

Not the place I would take a new shooter to learn to shoot, but, it is what it is.

Keep in mind, that these sorts of competitions have a safety officer following the shooter, and if there is any question of whether the shooter is being unsafe, they will be stopped and corrected.

Ricochets are fairly common as well, that is why it is important to keep your eye protection on at all times. Ricochets can sting, but I have never had one break the skin. I find that they are most common at indoor ranges, and I really only see them outdoors when shooting steel targets.

I would recommend getting some private instruction, or see if your CHL instructor can get some range time on a day that there are not competitions going on, as all the gunfire can be distracting, and unnerving for new shooters.

Earth berms are very common, and very safe. Where I shoot, there are 6 bays, all right in a row, separated by 10' x 8' earth berms. There are not any weapons being fired there that could come anywhere near penetrating that much earth. You can be certain that big earth berms will do their job.

October 18, 2010, 12:48 AM
never had that at my range, but I usually go early and it isn't crowded, and we only shoot in a single direction. I've been peppered with bird shot plenty when dove hunting someone shoots into the air about 100 yards away and it comes in on you like rain...really stings when it hits you in the lips. Eye protection is a must though, if for nothing more than a gun that likes to spit burning powder back at you.

October 18, 2010, 01:02 AM
Ah, memories.
TXPeach, I am glad you seem to have weathered this brief bit of freak storm.
The best control is the one you already have, the one between the ears. Sadly, others' differ.

I've been on linear ranges where the berms were staggered, which is good. Unless some clowns set up on the 100yd berm and do not bother to look to see if you are trudging back from the 300yd berm. As Churchill put it, having bullets shot at a person will develop a keen sense of focus.
Range Boss was nonplussed, he said "You were there, Dint think I needed a RM over there if you were." I took to bringing vest and helmet after that. And an Invoice for contract RM services.

But, sometimes, it's the competition shooters "tucked in" between regular, linear, shooting areas that can be the difficulty. Dude was 'teaching" up his daughter, and so they were using all manner of IPSC target combinations inside "their" bay. And against a timer, too. So, they had one of the stacked targets set up. Angle to upper target had no berm behind it, pure sky. Except that angle put the "fallout" zone about 25yds in front of the 100yd rifle berm. Not nice to walk back to the line and have a magazine of rounds rain down. Dude on the other side did not believe those were his, despite bringing him a still-warm round. Called it a day and left.

Now, if I drive out there, if the IPSC folk are there, I tell the RB, "no sale, I came to practice with firearms, not 18D skills." Easy.

October 18, 2010, 01:30 AM
Sounds like Austin Rifle Club. My range has berms like that, but I like to shoot on weekdays when not many people are around. Usually ARC is pretty good about keeping the firing lines safe though.

tasco 74
October 18, 2010, 01:33 AM
been to a lot of shooting events even got to the bianchi cup and i've never heard or seen such a thing as you describe:confused:................. i can't imagine a range with opposing shooting lanes:what:................ if there was lead hitting the ground at my feet it wouldn't take me long to get the hell out of there:fire:..............................................................................................

October 18, 2010, 04:44 AM
It's going to take a lawsuit before this place cleans it's act up. Might as well be you to start it. They should have safety as a top priority, guess they don't.

Erik M
October 18, 2010, 04:48 AM
ive caught splatter or shrapnel from people shooting cast bullets at steel targets but that s about it. The place OP was at sounds like a death trap.

Sav .250
October 18, 2010, 07:20 AM
Sounds like a wild west shot-out.

October 18, 2010, 07:30 AM
Hi and welcome TXPeach! I am trying not to be knee-jerk appalled at the situation you seem to be describing.

I shoot a lot of competition and I've never heard of berms facing each other. I have been hit by "splatter" and even an occasional energy-spent riccochet, but ... wow.

Competition shooters tend to be some of the most safety-conscious people around. Shooting often tends to give you a lot of experience with ALL the different kinds of errors folks can make with guns so you become very watchful and protective of your own hide. (And others' hides, too.)

If you would tell us the name and location of this shooting range it might help us visualize better what was going on. Some THR members may be familair with that facility, and at least we'll be able to look up the location on Google Earth and see the berm layout for ourselves.

(If you aren't comfortable sharing that info in public, you could send me a PM.)

October 18, 2010, 09:18 AM
been to a lot of shooting events even got to the bianchi cup and i've never heard or seen such a thing as you describe................. i can't imagine a range with opposing shooting lanes................ if there was lead hitting the ground at my feet it wouldn't take me long to get the hell out of there..............................................................................................

What he said!

Never had it happen to me at the range, but did catch a pellet off a limb (I think) when bird hunting once years ago.

The Bushmaster
October 18, 2010, 09:52 AM
It is not uncommon for a participant in one berm to recieve hit from a spent bullet or spent shot from his own shooting. It is, however, NOT normal for a person in another area to get hit. That range was [IS] poorly designed and dangerous.

October 18, 2010, 10:59 AM
I would not frequent a range such as described.

TX expat
October 18, 2010, 11:42 AM
Wow... In all honesty, I've never once been hit with any sort of ricochet at any indoor or outdoor range and I've been to plenty of both, although I can't say I've been around any during any sort of competition...

Personally, I'd find a less stressful place, or at least a better time, to shoot.

Double Naught Spy
October 18, 2010, 11:44 AM
been to a lot of shooting events even got to the bianchi cup and i've never heard or seen such a thing as you describe................. i can't imagine a range with opposing shooting lanes

Collin County Gun Range outside of McKinney, Tx was that way as well.

Dallas Pistol Club doesn't have two sets of shooters shooting at opposing sides of the berm but does have shooters behind the impact per for another set of shooters though they are all firing in the same direction.

Carl N. Brown
October 18, 2010, 12:15 PM
Very FIRST time at a gunrange today and hit by a that normal????

I am sorry the opening poster's first experience at a gunrange was so bizarre. Most ranges are set up better than that range described.

That never happened to me even decades at an informal range at an abandoned rock quarry, so it is not normal at all.

I have never heard of a range allowing firing at a target berm from opposite sides.

Our club does have a trap range that is at a slight angle to the 100m to 200m target area of the rifle range, but that would be a problem only if you decide to walk out between 100m and 200m to set up targets knowing there was a trap (shotgun) match going on. (Schedules are posted. Birdshot #7 1/2 and #8 will not penetrate denim at 200 feet, but I do not post targets beyond 100m when there is a trap match going on, even though the lane of fire does not completely intersect the target area.)

I have come to believe in wearing safety glasses because I have had an ejected empty bounce off my lens. If I were are a range where debris was being blown over the top of a berm by shooters on the other side, safety glasses would not be enough to me. I would complain to the operators before leaving.

October 18, 2010, 12:31 PM
I've never been hit by a ricochet, and I've never been to a range setup like that, nor would I ever go to one. No way in hell that I'd be shooing at a berm with people behind it. Doesn't matter what kind of gun I'm shooting, bb guns included. I would not shoot, or be standing around at any place that is setup like this for fear of being shot. My best suggestion would be to find a new range. I've never even heard of one setup like that until now.

October 18, 2010, 12:51 PM
Its a common thing to be hit by riccochete and they do hurt, less so with birdshot than some. I have been hit by 9mm, .38/.357, and .45 at indoor ranges usually from needing honey combs knocked off the steel. I did get hit in the neck by a 7.62x39 in Africa that lodged between C2 and C3 after bouncing off a wall and it burns more than anything.
I hope that reinforced the need for PPE! To be honest it shouldnt happen if the range is set up and maintained properly, but it does. Remember to listen to your gut it doesnt lie to you.

October 18, 2010, 01:03 PM
I can see how that would be pretty scary. I personally have never experienced that at a range, but I regularly get shot across the corn field (on purpose) by my rowdy, inbread, do anything for a laugh dove hunting "friends". Equally amusing is the shooting of wasp nests over each other's heads. Hilarious.

October 18, 2010, 01:10 PM
"It's unnerving at first but now it doesn't bother me."

You're kidding me, right?? How in the world could anyone get used to being hit with stray rounds??

You stated this is a new range with a good safety record. That's already gone down the toilet IMO.

This is why I don't go to busy ranges to shoot. I like to go out somewhere where there's no one else around. If you can't find a good, safe place to shoot, I don't have a good suggestion for you. Anyone else??

October 18, 2010, 01:26 PM
I agree - I'd love to see an actual layout of this place. From the description it sounds like there are shooters on two opposite sides of a berm shooting into the berm. If that's the case - YIKES!

I would get out of that range and go somewhere else. Other people think differently, but for me, there should be no reason for lead flying back at you at any range. We've had guns around long enough to know how to build safe backstops and targets.

October 18, 2010, 01:36 PM
It definitely sounds like there is a safety issue at that range. Ricochets do happen but it should be a very rare occurrence. It sounds like you did all the right things, tell the shooters their shots are ricocheting, leave the area and notify the range officers. Good job.

Thanx, Russ

October 18, 2010, 01:39 PM
There were what seemed to be bullets flying through the air over are head and it was pretty clear from the sound that there were shotguns being fired on the other side of the berm...however in our direction.
It is my considered opinion that being downrange of any shooting is a hazardous location.

I can recall one year at the National Matches on Viale when a bullet struck the folding stairway above the berm. This rifle bullet was deflected into the jaw of a Match Official, as I heard, taking out teeth. The gentleman was taken to the hospital, but the Ex Marine came back as soon as he was patched up.

Once a Marine, always a Marine. :)

Viale range has seen been renovated

I searched on line, but I cannot find an exact URL to a fatal shooting that was investigated by a TV show. The range was in Texas and a young man was officiating in a match. The range building he was in was in the center of the range, behind berms. There was also an action pistol match going on the other side of the berm and a ricochete managed to deflect off the range building roof killing the young man.

Based on my own experience, ricochets are extremely unpredictable, back stops inconsistent in construction or materials, and if bullets are making their way through the berm, and you are on the other side, I would not visit that range again.

October 18, 2010, 02:14 PM
Depends on what people are shooting.

If you have lots of falling steel targets, you more than likely will get chunks of bullet zinging up in the air and falling down.

However, the worst that'll happen if you are wearing eye protection is that they are hot and you get hit with a couple hundred grains of lead like it was dropped form 30-40 feet in the air.

OTOH if you are downrange of the skeet range, it can be like someone keeps shoveling dirt and small rocks on you as the shot rains back down. With proper eye protection, it's really harmless but annoying as heck.

Biggest hazard is if you are in the same pit as someone shooting a steel target with jacketed ammo. You can gets chunks of jacket coming back, and they are sharp. In that case, you can actually require a band aid. At least with properly maintained steel. However, they won't really do harm coming over a berm because they are light and have a fairly large surface are for their weight. So they aren't moving fast on the way back down.

If someone is shooting cratered steel, that is downright dangerous and can cause sever harm unde rthe right circumstances.

Sauer Grapes
October 18, 2010, 02:33 PM
It's your own fault for not wearing your flack jacket and helmet........:what:

I'm rather shocked to hear some say this is "typical"........:confused:
I've been showered with bird shot while hunting, but never at a gun club.

October 18, 2010, 05:16 PM
Its like hunting lions except the odds are on your side.:D

Average Joe
October 18, 2010, 06:13 PM
I have had a ricochet happen on the rimfire range, when shooting at steel targets set up at 25 yards.

October 18, 2010, 06:58 PM
I've been shooting in competition since 1993 and have been hit by shrapnel 3 times (ricochet from steel targets from 12 yds or more) and a 230 gr. 45acp slug once( spent slug was probably hit by an errant bullet that sent it over a 12 ft sand berm and hit me on the forehead/covered by a hat). That slug hurt, had me seeing stars, drew a bit of blood and made me appreciate my glasses, ear muffs, and hat. I cannot over emphasize eye protection, preferably wrap around types. How often do you see a Nascar racecar careen into the protective fence, tires flying everywhere, or that last desert truck that ran into a group of viewers out in Mexico? The risk here is lower but held at bay by tools to protect us. Nothing is 100% safe... So be safe out there.

October 18, 2010, 08:49 PM
Well ya'll, I have to say it's been interesting reading the responses. A majority of them agree that this was not best or even safe practice.

I understand from growing up with hunters and gunsman in my immediate family that ricochets can and do happen occasionally while out on a hunt...especially with bird shot for dove, etc...

My problem is that that I always learned from my family (and the chl instroctor) that you are ALWAYS responsible for the bullet as soon as you pull that trigger and to ALWAYS know what's behind your target....this being said the people engaging in the competion were notified that A) they were causing ricochet to not just "annoy" others but to actually inflict pain/harm (seriosuly ya'll should see the whelp/bruise on my jugluar.)...this to me is in clear violation of being responsible for your bullets and B) that they were shooting in our direction behind their target (yes, I know dirt berms are reasonably safe but it's the sheer fact). AND THEY DID NOT STOP.

I'm mean ya'll. It was bad enough for a chl instructor and gun aficianado of well over a decade to "HOLY ****". And packed us up SUPER quick to haul our ass out of there.


But on a happy note, I am making myself go out to a completly different range tomorrow to finish the shooting portion of my chl test....ya'll this almost ruined and put a huge tarnish on my view of guns and gun saftey if it wasn't for my dad and sisters' reassurment....come on, how else am I going to shoot Commies?!? (a little funny here).

My opininon after being hit and reading the many replies is: This just shouldn't happen to a first timer, but ANYONE under normal and safe circumstances. If a person says they're taking your shot. You should stop and rectify the situation. End of story.

BTW this is their first rule listed:
SAFETY FIRST! Every shooter has the responsibility to make sure that each bullet fired impacts safely in a backstop or bullet trap.

October 18, 2010, 08:54 PM
I go shooting to have fun, if I wanted to get shot at I would join the Army. I recommend going to a different range, or at least not to that range when they are doing whatever they are doing.

October 18, 2010, 08:59 PM
welcome to THR, TXpeach

I shoot competitively pretty regularly. Occasionally get hit by splatter from my own rounds, but I can't recall ever having rounds leave another shooting bay/berm and hit me. Offhand, that seems like a pretty poorly designed facility and course of fire.


October 18, 2010, 09:27 PM
That range sounds, wait, *IS* an accident waiting to happen, thank the great Flying Spaghetti Monster that you escaped largely uninjured, and I think you made the right decision to find a different range, my local range has a single shooting hut with individual bays on the rifle range and on the handgun range, all shooters are pointing in the same direction, and nobody is in the lane of fire on a hot range

South Berwick Rod and Gun Association GPS coordinates are;

Plug that into your GPS/smartphone/Google Maps, and see how a safe range is set up

from top to bottom;
doubles trap range
singles trap range
handgun range (up to 25 yards distance)
rifle range (200, 100, and 50 yard ranges)

It's an old satellite picture, the handgun range now has berms and backstops at 15, 20 and 25 yards, the pistol range in the image was the older "movable target holder" range with the single berm at 25 yards, and the rifle range shooting hut now extends all the way to the 50 yard range, the bright sand patches on the rifle range are the 200, 100 and 50 yard berms and backstops, the curved white blob is the side berm preventing stray bullet escapes to the right

the structure near the road is the clubhouse, and the archery range is directly across from it
notice, no shooting positions beyond the shooting huts?

October 19, 2010, 01:08 AM
Both good points!
That range was [IS] poorly designed and dangerous.
I would not frequent a range such as described.

October 19, 2010, 11:09 PM
I've only been to two different ranges but never anything like what you describe. I would not stay at a range like that any longer than it would take for me to get my stuff back into the car and leave. That's way too dangerous and unnecessary as well. Sorry for your experience.

Find a good range and hang in there.

October 20, 2010, 01:27 AM
Sorry: Wall of text and parentheticals. Can't sleep.

I think the majority are in agreement on the fact that it is an unsafe layout. I personally would not have actually gone out there seeing a setup like that.

There is also the little part of me that thinks the people firing on the other side were doing it intentionally, and probably knew that it was CC class out there. It actually sounds even more malicious that they didn't stop when they got told about it.

I would have asked for any money I had spent be refunded, and then I would file a formal complaint. I don't know who the proper person would be, but I would take the time to find out. And then I would ask every other person that was present give me a name and contact info to tell them what I was doing, and ask if they file additional complaints. I would write it up, send them a copy, with an stamped envelope so all they would have to do is sign their name and put it into the mail.

I was always taught that "what's behind your target" meant all the way to the end of the range of the round that you were firing. A lot of people don't understand about bullets not plunging straight into the ground but instead deflecting off something on the ground and ricocheting up into the air and over the berm. As stated above, you are morally and legally responsible every time you pull the trigger for where that bullet goes. If you were at an 'official range', the proprietor is probably also legally liable if they have a set-up like that.

I'm impressed that you have the fortitude to continue on with your training, and that you are not letting a bad (one of the worst first timer stories I think I have ever heard) experience turn you off. Your gut was right.

And not that I am anyone of import, welcome to the boards. Call me a sexist, but I find it refreshing to interact with determined ladies with guns (so long as I am not at the wrong end of the barrel). I cannot think of a single woman shooter I have ever gone with that did not show a healthy respect for the tools, have an over-bearing machismo about how awesome they were, or that didn't take well to advice or instruction. (The only bad thing I've seen is that a lot of the women shooters I know shoot far less than they should to remain really proficient.)

I also feel much better about women being able to defend themselves. Someone on here has a signature line along the line of a woman being able to defend herself. Having a mother, MIL, wife, 2 daughters, SIL's, and numerous nieces... Great decision.

Also, please post the name of the range so that we can Google Earth it. I would like to see the layout (if it was posted, I don't remember seeing it).

October 20, 2010, 02:07 AM
This is why I don't go to busy ranges to shoot. I like to go out somewhere where there's no one else around.

Every bad instance I have ever had was on a quiet range with only a couple of other shooters. Just my bad luck that sometimes (1 in 200, 1 in 500, whatever it works out to be) those few other people were bozos.

The IPSC people "bought" their spot, with three berms from the one range. For an actual competition, they close the entire range. Only a hazard if they are out there on a quiet Wednesday or Thursday, and then only if someone wanders into the range fan of one of the more wacky IPSC target set-ups.

October 20, 2010, 02:19 AM
When I take my son to our private gun club if there are more than five or six people on the pistol or rifle line, we leave, and come back later. I cant control all those people and ensure they are safe, and my sons life is worth more than anything I own, including my own life.

October 20, 2010, 02:30 AM
Our gun club has no ranges in which they have you shooting in any direction towards another range of a different kind. All the various ranges all face the same direction, and I've never heard of this sort of thing before. I don't blame you for hauling ass out of there. I might have done something worse, good thing I wasn't there, lol.

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