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

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by TXPeach, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. TXPeach

    TXPeach New Member

    Oct 17, 2010
    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 fear....so 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.
  2. earplug

    earplug Participating Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Colorado Springs
    Common problem

    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.
  3. Sky

    Sky Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    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.
  4. TXPeach

    TXPeach New Member

    Oct 17, 2010
    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!
  5. psyork22

    psyork22 New Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    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.
  6. alohachris

    alohachris Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    Honolulu, HI
    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.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2010
  7. TXPeach

    TXPeach New Member

    Oct 17, 2010
    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!
  8. PT1911

    PT1911 Senior Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    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..
  9. FatPants

    FatPants Member

    Mar 17, 2010
    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.
  10. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Senior Member

    Aug 11, 2010
    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.
  11. CapnMac

    CapnMac Participating Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    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.
  12. mstirton

    mstirton Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Manchaca, TX
    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.
  13. tasco 74

    tasco 74 Active Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    iowa u.s.a.
    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:..............................................................................................
  14. JTH

    JTH Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    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.
  15. Erik M

    Erik M Participating Member

    Jun 14, 2009
    Southeast Kentucky
    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.
  16. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Senior Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Central Fla
    Sounds like a wild west shot-out.
  17. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Oct 22, 2007
    Central PA
    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.)
  18. danprkr

    danprkr Participating Member

    Apr 26, 2009
    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.
  19. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Mentor

    Jan 29, 2005
    Ava, Missouri
    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.
  20. 44Dave

    44Dave New Member

    Dec 24, 2009
    I would not frequent a range such as described.

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