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Are firing range "hot spots" really dangerous ?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by BehindTheIronCurtain, Apr 7, 2012.

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  1. BehindTheIronCurtain

    BehindTheIronCurtain Member

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    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.
     
  2. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    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.
     
  3. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    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.
     
  4. Bovice

    Bovice Member

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    I've been hit by bullet fragments before, it was no big deal. It didn't even draw blood.
     
  5. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    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.
     
  6. Milamber

    Milamber Member

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    If its any thing like our range, the reloader's sieve the berm for lead on regular basis.
     
  7. Serenity

    Serenity Member

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    That's what I was going to say...scavengers.
     
  8. gregj

    gregj Member

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    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.
     
  9. kb58

    kb58 Member

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    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.
     
  10. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    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.
     
  11. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave Member

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    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.
     
  12. CGT80

    CGT80 Member

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    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.
     
  13. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    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.
     
  14. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    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.
     
  15. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave Member

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    I 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?
     
  16. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    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.
     
  17. WNTFW

    WNTFW Member

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    Armoredman - I know how you feel. I am always getting hit in the wallet.
     
  18. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    It was more polite to say wallet rather than butt cheek... :) Yes, I understand the completely unintentional joke. ;)
     
  19. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  20. shep854

    shep854 Member

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    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.
     
  21. Tinker

    Tinker Member

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    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.
     
  22. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    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.
     
  23. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Member

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    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
     
  24. FIVETWOSEVEN

    FIVETWOSEVEN Member

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    That's usually where shooting hits me :uhoh:
     
  25. SabbathWolf

    SabbathWolf member

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    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
     
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