Are firing range "hot spots" really dangerous ?


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BehindTheIronCurtain
April 7, 2012, 11:22 PM
I was watching modern marvels and they were talking about firing ranges. In it they talk about how the old practice of shooting into sand or the side of a hill is not good due to bullets piling up in one spot and causing a ricochet hazard.

I see guys on YouTube shooting steel plates at close range with no problems, hickok45 does it all the time and even says getting pieces of a bullet back at him is not a big whoop.

I want to make a shooting range on some land I want to buy and want to make sure I don't have to make a "real" range.

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ColtPythonElite
April 7, 2012, 11:29 PM
I've been shooting the same berms at my local club for about 20 years with zero troubles. I shoot steel as close as 15 yards at least twice a week and never had an issue...As long as you wear eye protection, you should have no worries.

1SOW
April 8, 2012, 12:50 AM
Most shooting sports that use steel targets require a minimum distance of 9 yds (USPSA/IPSC)or more.
Shooting Steel can and does cause small bullet fragment to hit shooters. Usually it's just a light hit, but I have been cut just enough to bleed on the cheek and have seen others with minor small cuts. Always wear quality eye protection and a hat.

I have shot on very old berms and never witnessed or heard of ricochets from lead build-up in a berm.

To directly answer your question, I would say no, as long as you use proper safety wear.

Bovice
April 8, 2012, 01:12 AM
I've been hit by bullet fragments before, it was no big deal. It didn't even draw blood.

MrBorland
April 8, 2012, 07:08 AM
I've seen/heard ricochets from dirt berms, but they ricocheted from hitting a rock that eventually got exposed.

As far as steel, it's shot straight on - not at a side angle - so the bullet disintegrates upon impact, rather than actually ricochet. Some of those shards may come back, which is why it's a good idea to stand back 10ft or more.

Speaking of shards, sharp fragments of the bullet's copper jacket (even from some one else's round) seem particularly good at coming back, so I personally think it's better to shoot steel with lead or plated bullets.

Good eye protection, which, of course, should be used anyway, is a must.

Milamber
April 8, 2012, 08:03 AM
If its any thing like our range, the reloader's sieve the berm for lead on regular basis.

Serenity
April 8, 2012, 11:46 AM
That's what I was going to say...scavengers.

gregj
April 9, 2012, 11:32 AM
Anything is possible, but probably highly unlikely. The outdoor range I normally shoot at has been around for over 40 yrs, same berms, never mined, and never heard of a ricochet happening.

kb58
April 9, 2012, 11:50 AM
I was at my first steel shoot this last Saturday and got hit six times by fragments. As was said, it's not the entire bullet that comes back, but "flakes" from the smashed bullet hitting the steel. My brother got hit and it fell into his shirt pocket(!) so we got a chance to examine it. It was about 1/2" in diameter and flat like a small leaf. If it hits you face-on you barely notice, but the last one that got me must have been on-edge because it stung. Yeah, eye protection!

Back on topic, I've never had the above happen when shooting at paper targets in front of a dirt hillside.

1KPerDay
April 9, 2012, 01:08 PM
I was watching modern marvels and they were talking about firing ranges. In it they talk about how the old practice of shooting into sand or the side of a hill is not good due to bullets piling up in one spot and causing a ricochet hazard.

I see guys on YouTube shooting steel plates at close range with no problems, hickok45 does it all the time and even says getting pieces of a bullet back at him is not a big whoop.
The difference is hardened armor-plate steel effectively disperses all of the energy of the bullet. A lump of buried lead and copper surrounded by flexible backstop material or sand/dirt may not.

bigfatdave
April 9, 2012, 01:23 PM
I've seen lead come back from a pretty heavily used dirt berm, and on one occasion it was obviously not the lead that had been fired. The Mrs and I were shooting .22lr and 9x19mm at the berm from 20-25 yards out, and a lead pancake came back that was at least a .45 acp worth of lead, maybe bigger. The Mrs had the misfortune of catching it, it made a very shallow scrape through her lightweight shirt - more than a red mark but not much more. I think it was a symptom of running HP ammo into a muddy berm, causing little "eruptions" that launched debris. Well, that and pure bad luck.

And I've seen similar objects on the grass as well, I think the club really needs to get that berm mined or move the firing line over to the left about 20 feet, the berm extends over there but is grassy/shrubs on that side while the in-use section is seriously chewed up.

So, it is possible, but good eye protection should protect you from anything beyond a "boo-boo", but having a first-aid kit with you wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

CGT80
April 12, 2012, 01:51 AM
Don't worry about the berm, worry about the steel targets. I got hit in the upper inner thigh by a chunk of bullet (jacketed) that came back off a steel plate at 7 yards. It bled quite a bit and left two big knots and bruising that took 6 weeks to heal. It hit my shorts but did not cut them. I think the impact broke the skin open. A couple inches higher and........well lets just say it would have been really bad. I am lucky that it did not damage the femoral artery, according to my chiropractor (also a medical examiner).

Some shooting buddies (One or more LEO's) helped me bandage it up. I was RO'ing my brother at the time. I ran that COF and 5 others that day and still had decent scores. The odds of being seriously injured are slim, but it can happen.

SlamFire1
April 19, 2012, 09:40 AM
Guys who have shot lots of tracer claim that they have seen bullets leave the berms at odd angles, including coming over the firing line.

I dug into a WWII era berm, found lots of 30 caliber FMJ that had a hook shape. It it evident to me that these bullets had changed direction in the dirt. Not beyond the realm of possibility that one could come out at an odd angle.

Not too sure about SP or JHP. Whenever I have dug those out, they are fragmented in one way or another.

Steel Horse Rider
April 19, 2012, 09:55 AM
There is a big difference between the worlds of "what if" and "what is", unfortunately people tend to gravitate towards the world of "what if" when making rules or regulations instead of "what is" actually occuring.

bigfatdave
April 19, 2012, 07:48 PM
lots of tracer claim that they have seen bullets leave the berms at odd anglesI always thought that was the (low mass) tracer material separating from the (higher mass) projectile and heading off on its own.

Was that assumption wrong?

armoredman
April 19, 2012, 07:55 PM
Only bounce backs I've been hit with was, 1)a badly made steel deflector set up at an indoor range that doesn't exist anymore...came skipping back up the lane while I was squatting down, turned around, and hit me in the wallet.
2) A 38 special load made so light for bowling pin that it bounced off the pin straight back rather than know the pin over. This was a match I was RO'ing, and when that bullet came sailing back, it nailed me straight in the twins, dropped me like a rock. At the time it was not exactly funny, in retrospect it was frigging hilarious.
Never been hit by bounceback at an outdoor range, including the Dept one that is used darn near every day over many years, all jacketed ammo.

WNTFW
April 19, 2012, 08:46 PM
Armoredman - I know how you feel. I am always getting hit in the wallet.

armoredman
April 19, 2012, 09:17 PM
It was more polite to say wallet rather than butt cheek... :) Yes, I understand the completely unintentional joke. ;)

hso
April 19, 2012, 09:48 PM
I'm not sure what alternative would be used unless you can afford a snail trap? Any bulk material that is used as a bullet stop would eventually "fill" with bullet fragments that could ricochet incoming rounds. The more serious question is whether the clean the berm or build up the face once you've fired a few hundred thousand rounds into it.

shep854
April 19, 2012, 09:50 PM
I've been nicked several times by bullet bits. Some venues used to (maybe they still do) prohibit jacketed bullets on steel for this very reason.

For the original post, 'Modern Marvels' is simply ignorant.

Tinker
April 19, 2012, 11:10 PM
I was watching modern marvels and they were talking about firing ranges. In it they talk about how the old practice of shooting into sand or the side of a hill is not good due to bullets piling up in one spot and causing a ricochet hazard.

Anything is possible, but you have to realize that almost everybody who is involved with TV, movie and news production has a bias against firearms. Mountains out of mole hills is one specialty.

If it's not "lead bouncing back from a berm" it's "lead in the environment" to "lead poisoning" to "cop killer bullets", etc., etc.,.......etc. Any angle to eventually regulate shooting into nonexistance.

BCRider
April 20, 2012, 01:10 AM
Jacketed bullets on steel is still fine IF the face of the steel is in good condition. It's when it gets shot at by stronger rounds or some of the surplus stuff that has copper plated soft steel jackets that the face of the steel can become pock marked with small depresions. Hit those depressions and you're going to have some of the material doing a U turn back to the line with a fair turn of speed that's going to hurt.

Rocks in the berm can do the same thing. Around here where it's really wet during the winter the rocks tend to float to the surface or the soil erodes to expose them. So each spring part of our range cleanup is to pick out the bigger lemon and bigger size rocks and toss them out of the way. The odd thing is that there's no sign of actual soil erosion on the banks. No silt at the base or anything like that. But each spring there's a new crop of rocks.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
April 20, 2012, 02:01 AM
I am doubting this as well. With the soft density of lead being what it is, I would find it very improbable that it would ricochet a bullet back. It would be more likely to absorb the energy of the oncoming bullet. Now iron/steels on the other hand can have a VERY negative affect as seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABGIJwiGBc

FIVETWOSEVEN
April 20, 2012, 02:13 AM
and hit me in the wallet.

That's usually where shooting hits me :uhoh:

SabbathWolf
April 20, 2012, 05:13 AM
EVERY single time a subject like this (ricochet while out target shooting) comes up, I always remember this video.
This guy is "lucky" to be alive!
I can't believe he's not actually hurt.

"The target, a steel plate, was 1000 yards away. You
can hear the ping of the hit, and then the bullet comes
back and hits his earmuffs on his head. The footage is amazing."



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZDT_2i2_VQ

shep854
April 20, 2012, 07:56 AM
"Rocks in the berm can do the same thing. Around here where it's really wet during the winter the rocks tend to float to the surface or the soil erodes to expose them. So each spring part of our range cleanup is to pick out the bigger lemon and bigger size rocks and toss them out of the way. The odd thing is that there's no sign of actual soil erosion on the banks. No silt at the base or anything like that. But each spring there's a new crop of rocks."--BCRider

New England farmers call it 'growing rocks'. That's where the material for their stone fences came from.

Murphy4570
April 20, 2012, 08:09 AM
If its any thing like our range, the reloader's sieve the berm for lead on regular basis.

Holy crap, that's a really good idea!

shep854
April 20, 2012, 08:26 AM
A local Birmingham, AL range, the FOP range in Pleasant Grove does the same. The owner sells the recovered metals to help cover range expenses.

http://www.foprangeinc.com/

FIVETWOSEVEN
April 20, 2012, 10:48 AM
That video with the .50 caliber ricochet was shot at 100 yards, not 1,000 yards.

Dnaltrop
April 20, 2012, 01:38 PM
Have a very recent, dime sized burn scar on my lower left neck from frag at 50 feet off of the steel wall at the end of the range.

Came from the guy shooting .40 3 lanes to my left, the jacket flew and hit my neck flat, and seared itself to my skin. Hit moderately hard, felt like someone hit me with a snapped rubber band till the burning started. And THAT is why we wear goggles kiddos.

I've also shot myself in the leg with a wax round. (http://www.gunfighter.com/waxbullets/ great for draw-and-fire practice, keep your toes intact ;))

The phone-book I was using to stop the rounds bent, and the round curved inside like it was through a pipe, and nailed me in the lower leg.

Curved surfaces are bad, m'kay?

SabbathWolf
April 20, 2012, 01:52 PM
That video with the .50 caliber ricochet was shot at 100 yards, not 1,000 yards.


I "thought" 1000 yards didn't sound right to me either.
That's just what the description said.
I believe you are right.
That was crazy anyways though......lol

Fishslayer
April 21, 2012, 07:25 PM
That's what I was going to say...scavengers.

They prefer "miners" or "harvesters." ;)

Look on castboolits.com & you will find several who sell range lead ingots. Good, sound recycling. How much more green can ya get? :D

sonick808
April 21, 2012, 10:25 PM
just push some new dirt on the front of the berm and "rotate" it every month or so. Use, Borrow or rent a bobcat and have some fun :D

JohnKSa
April 21, 2012, 11:52 PM
In it they talk about how the old practice of shooting into sand or the side of a hill is not good due to bullets piling up in one spot and causing a ricochet hazard.Lead is pretty unlikely to cause ricochets. It's far more likely to soak up bullets than to throw them back.

brickeyee
April 22, 2012, 11:36 AM
The range I use has a front end loader that is used to periodically replace the front of the berm.

The soil removed is sieved for bullets.

Straight Shooter 47
April 22, 2012, 10:03 PM
About 30 or so years ago, I was shooting an old dishwasher at about 20 yards with my Colt Series 70 1911. Hardball ammo.
Had a round bounce back and hit me in the leg and it hurt like hell. Lesson learned, be careful what your shooting. Lead ammo will send splatter, but for close up steel shooting is the only way to go. Id NEVER use hardball for that.
As for a berm having so many rounds in it that its causing ricochets... Id have to see it to believe it.

SabbathWolf
April 22, 2012, 10:43 PM
About 30 or so years ago, I was shooting an old dishwasher at about 20 yards with my Colt Series 70 1911. Hardball ammo.
Had a round bounce back and hit me in the leg and it hurt like hell. Lesson learned, be careful what your shooting. Lead ammo will send splatter, but for close up steel shooting is the only way to go. Id NEVER use hardball for that.
As for a berm having so many rounds in it that its causing ricochets... Id have to see it to believe it.

Don't tell that story to a Democrat!
They'll be wanting to ban dish washers next too.
:D

gspn
April 22, 2012, 11:48 PM
Everyone always says to wear eye protection...but nobody every mentions wearing a cup. I got hit in the thigh by a ricochet at the range one day...slapped me pretty hard and felt like a wasp sting. A hit to the eye would have been life altering...but a hit to the nuts...would have killed me.:what:

bbuddtec
April 23, 2012, 11:36 PM
...what JohnK said...

never mind the word ricochet conjures up images of a lethal bullet hurtling back at us innocents... :| ...anti

mickeyblueyes
April 24, 2012, 07:13 AM
I can tell you all one thing,when my friend and I were in our 20s (that was 30 years ago) we were shooting just like you guys are now, He had a Ruger mini 14 223 and was shooting at some steel. sure enough a piece came flying back and lodged in my knee.
I had a surgeon take it out. My lesson was learned. Guys at the very least wear eye protection, and if you want kids a cup.

CountryUgly
April 24, 2012, 08:04 AM
EVERY single time a subject like this (ricochet while out target shooting) comes up, I always remember this video.
This guy is "lucky" to be alive!
I can't believe he's not actually hurt.

"The target, a steel plate, was 1000 yards away. You
can hear the ping of the hit, and then the bullet comes
back and hits his earmuffs on his head. The footage is amazing."



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZDT_2i2_VQ
That was crazy ^^....Guess that's why they banned guns in the Down Under those boomerrang bullets are brutal....

bomberbill357
April 24, 2012, 10:15 AM
We had to close our range and construct a steel wall b/c of the number of spent rounds in the berm. Almost every round was kicking things out of the berm back at us. Pieces of rounds are one thing but it was getting to the point that whole bullets were kicking back at dangerous velocities. We did some research and found that there were close to 10 million rounds in that berm that we could count.
I should caution everyone that this is an extreme example and that a lot of those rounds were fired in the time frame of about a 2 year period, with very little rain and the berms were not collapsing on themselves so there were many exposed rounds.

shep854
April 24, 2012, 10:50 AM
The cost of the recovered metal should have covered the expense of the work, though!

brickeyee
April 24, 2012, 12:21 PM
We had to close our range and construct a steel wall b/c of the number of spent rounds in the berm.

Do you all like doing things the hard way?

You dig out about 8 feet of the berm, replace with new soil, and start to work filing the new stuff with lead.

You can sift the soil for bullets and sell them to casters, and save the soil for the next go round (instead of trying to pay hazmat charges to dispose of it).

Rapidrob
April 24, 2012, 01:25 PM
In the 50 years I've been shooting, I have never seen a bullet come back from a dirt berm. If they did continue to move they went over the berm.
The only bullet I have ever seen come back was at a match where the steel target were set on top of an upside/down rail road rail. A shooter was shooting a 98K Mauser in 8MM
and was using Turk ammo. The bullet struck the rail road rail at the bottom and came straight back at him from 200 meters away. The bullet passed between the two of us very fast and made a loud screaming sound. I halted the match and all of the competitors shifted to the right of the rail by 10 degrees. We had no more rounds coming back at us.

Greg528iT
April 25, 2012, 01:22 PM
At my outdoor pistol range, we have steel traps at 12 yards and 25 yards. You can tell which lane most people use when shooting. The lead hits the 45 degree steel plate and slides down the plate to where it meets the gravel/ sand base. Over time the lead and jackets form a pretty solid mass of lead. I've had several large chunks of lead fly back out of the trap and land 8-9 yards from the trap. Weird to see, scary only a little bit. I had to use a large pick to pry the mass of lead from the crevice of the steel and earth. I then shoveled and raked the sand /gravel into a nice pocket at the back. I've not seen bounce back since that time. I'll probably be keeping my eye on it, for the safety of our members. :)

Greg528iT
April 25, 2012, 01:34 PM
http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x349/jaggoett1/1911/2012-03-21194901.jpg

As you can see, all the lead welds itself into a pretty solid mass. This is only a portion of the massive clump, after I used the pick to loosen it from the steel plate and ground. It was wedged in there very tightly.

Destructo6
April 25, 2012, 04:13 PM
Been hit twice myself by stuff coming back from the dirt/lead berm. The first was .223 in the shoulder (hurt and left a welt) and the second was in the forehead, which didn't hurt much.

Weird, because I'd been on that range 5 days a week for a year or more, then twice in two days.

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