View Full Version : It could happen to you
March 11, 2006, 11:56 PM
I had my first encounter with a ricochet in 30 years of shooting yesterday. Was shooting in an impromptu steel plate match with several buddies at about 20 yards, when a piece of a bullet came back and hit me. I have been shooting plates about 5 years now. The fragment came back and hit me barely above my glasses, an inch to the left of the center of my nose in the bottom of my eyebrow. It felt like I got hit with a rock and blood began to flow down the corner of my eye. I got the blood stopped and felt the area of the wound and felt a bump under my skin. It hurt in quite a bit broader area than just where it hit and cut the skin. I went to the emergency room and they x-rayed my head. I now have two pieces of lead in me, one about the size of bb but thinner about quarter of an inch above my eye and a slightly smaller piece a little higher up. I have to go to a surgeon monday so they can decide whether to try and take them out or whether they are just going to leave them there. I guess the thinness of the tissue and the hardness and curvature of the bone behind it was what allowed them to penetrate and travel to where they did. The good news is that my eye and everything else important seems to be unaffected, however I hate to think what a little more velocity might have done. The plates were about 7/16 thick and looked to be in pretty good shape. Don't really want to get wound up on the hows or whys as I am sure it was just a fluke thing. I read a thread on here about three pages long of people being hit at the range, had no idea it happenned that much and most people didn't take it very seriously. I for one will never again shoot at anything harder than a paper target or a coyote again. I don't expect anyone else to stop shooting steel, I just wanted to share this as if you are unlucky enough to get hit just wrong it could be very serious. Always wear those glasses folks for sure. Good luck and good shooting.
March 12, 2006, 12:16 AM
Welcome to TFL, Couldbeanyone! :) While I think your experience is the exception rather than the rule, it does show that it can happen, and it says again folks, don't forget those glasses!
I am curious though; what caliber and type of ammo were you shooting?
March 12, 2006, 12:34 AM
In reply to your question, it was a Remington 38 special +P 125 gr semi jacketed hollow point out of a 4 inch barrelled Smith & Wesson model 15. I was shooting these as they are what I normally carry and they were all I had a lot of when the guys wanted to go shoot. Yes, I am sure that it was a one of a kind fluke as I have never been hit with a ricochet at all in five years of at least monthly steel shooting. I will also asure you it has my undivided attention now. By the way the plates were about 7/16 thick and looked to be in good condition, not that it had anything to do with it, just a fluke. Just wanted everyone to know it could happen and to be carefull.
March 12, 2006, 12:43 AM
In reply to your question, it was a Remington 38 special +P 125 gr semi jacketed hollow point out of a 4 inch barrelled Smith & Wesson model 15.
Mistake number one. NEVER shoot jacketed bullets at steel plates. They are a lead bullet only proposition. Have been tagged by backspatter several times...at worst a slight sting. Certainly nothing to write home about. In addition to the added risk of dangerous backspatter from jacketed bullets, most range officers get REALLY perturbed at folks who shoot their expensive plates with slugs that could not only injure the shooter or other bystanders, but are prone to "holing" the plates.
March 12, 2006, 10:05 AM
I am an idiot, yes, I know. Yes, I know jacketed hollowpoints are more likely to fragment. This happened at a friends private range(envy his setup). I do not consider 38 special +P to be a powerhouse round. There are three pages of posts on this forum telling of people being hit with ricochets, over half of which doubtless hit with more force, felt like being hit with a small rock. There is absolutely no doubt that had this hit me in a fleshy part, covered by fabric, that it would have done good to leave a decent bruise. Unfortunately it hit in thin non-elastic skin at a point where the bone was sloping steeply back to my eye socket. So, call me an idiot, an amateur, a retard, a waterhead or whatever you like. Please read this in the spirit it was given. I only ask that you consider being sure that your shooting glasses come high enough to cover the tops of your eyebrows, things can happen that you might never think possible. I only ask that you try to learn something from my stupidity and as a result be safer from harm. Also please note, that I did not ask anyone to stop shooting steel plates. Thank you and be safe.
March 12, 2006, 10:17 AM
What a coincidence i went to Bass Pro shop yesterday to pick up a couple of steel spinner targets but backed out after looking at them. I thought the chance of being hit by a ricochet was to great after reading the box. Thanks for the info. It reinforced my choice not to buy. Hope everything works out. And remember it could've always been worse.:eek:
March 12, 2006, 10:52 AM
I am an idiot, yes, I know. Yes, I know jacketed hollowpoints are more likely to fragment. This happened at a friends private range(envy his setup).
Aww, man. In NO WAY did I mean to imply you were an "idiot". If I came across in any way, shape or form in that fashion, please accept my full apologies. I was merely stating that when lead bullets are being used and (as your experience most resoundingly points out) proper eye protection is used, backspatter is not that big a risk for serious injury.
I only ask that you consider being sure that your shooting glasses come high enough to cover the tops of your eyebrows, things can happen that you might never think possible.
Can give a hearty "amen" to that statement. I shoot a .375 H&H from the bench often, and thought I was aware of the dangers of "magnum eyebrow" until I had the opportunity for some range time with a .460 Weatherby Mag. Being more curious than is good for me, I wanted to see just how accurate this beast is from the bench. (Surprisingly so, it turns out). I also found out from the dent in my large lensed shooting glasses and a dull headache that the scope WILL smack you a GOOD one if you treat the WM like a bench rest rifle. Without those glasses, it would have been suture time. I've seen people who had absolutely no experience with heavy calibers cut open their brows when using no eye protection with a .30-06 (???), a .300 Win Mag, and a .300 Weatherby Mag. Could have gotten a heck of a deal on the Weatherby if I'd had just a bit of cash on me. :D Only seen two Ka-Booms -one rifle, one pistol. Both shooters, thank goodness, were wearing good quality eye protection. In full agreement with you. An absolute must.
What you did was not "stupidity". Unless someone had warned you beforehand about jacketed bullets and steel plates, most (or at least many) people would never think about this. I guess I have spent enough time on ranges to know that every one with steel plates I've visited clearly posts the "no jacketed bullets on plates" rule.
Once again, I had no intentions of implying in any manner that you were less than intelligent - merely that jacketed bullets are a big no-no with steel plates if one doesn't want to find himself with perforations that are less than desirable.
March 12, 2006, 12:54 PM
I also found out from the dent in my large lensed shooting glasses and a dull headache that the scope WILL smack you a GOOD one if you treat the WM like a bench rest rifle. Without those glasses, it would have been suture time. I've seen people who had absolutely no experience with heavy calibers cut open their brows when using no eye protection with a .30-06 (???)
Been there, done that; got the scar to prove it :D .
It wasn't a heavy magnum though; it was a friend's Remy 700 in .308. I thought the scope looked like it was mounted a bit far back, but shrugged and shouldered the weapon. I was paying attention to the sight picture and not the eye relief, squeezed the trigger, and thought I got punched by Iron Mike Tyson with a horseshoe in his glove :eek: . I gotta hunch there's a lot of people here sporting similar scars :D .
Moral to the story: When you mount a scope, make sure it's far enough forward before you tighten down the rings ;) .
March 12, 2006, 01:59 PM
Mistake number one. NEVER shoot jacketed bullets at steel plates. They are a lead bullet only proposition.
Interesting. When I used to shoot local IDPA matches, we had a lot of stages with steel targets at various ranges. I'm sure some were closer than 20 yards. The shooters used just about every kind of ammo there was: handloads, factory, lead, JHPs, FMJs, SWCs. There was a power factor the ammo was supposed to meet, but I don't recall anyone ever checking any ammo. Not once.
March 12, 2006, 04:18 PM
Jacketed or lead, both will come back.
If it bothers you, do not shoot steel, or rock, or into a berm, etc, etc, etc. Stuff will come back from any surface.:eek: The least likely is the rubber backstops.
Look, shooting is a dangerous hobby, and not for everyone.:)
March 12, 2006, 04:32 PM
about a year ago, i was shooting at an indoor range. was was using a modified 1911 (origionally a 9mm), converted to 7,65 x 25 (the tokarev stuff).
the layout of the range was pretty good. about 10 yards from the shooting line to the backstop. the backstop was a re-inforced wall with steel plates running horizontally. they were set at an angle so that any bullet fired would be deflected down into the steel plate below. im not sure exactly how this happened, but whilst plinking away, a small shard of copper from the jacket came back and hit my middle finger. it did draw blood, but the copper did not lodge itself in my finger. the resulting wound was similar to a bad scratch. i had anly a bout 20 rounds left, so i continued shooting until i was done, then proceeded to wash my hands thoroughly.
March 12, 2006, 05:00 PM
You're not stupid or anything else. Accidents happen my man. When they happen we try to learn from them. Thanks for sharing your experience so we "might" learn something to prevent it!
March 12, 2006, 06:29 PM
it happens to everyone i think,i was shhoting a reset target a while back and had some bullet fragments cut my forehead open pretty good.
March 12, 2006, 06:40 PM
I wonder what the steel plate condition was like? Beat up, or maintained?
March 12, 2006, 09:31 PM
I made it to 53 yrs before I did this to myself...with my son's .50 cal. muzzle loader no less. Its very easy to creep up on the scope when shooting from the bench. He laughed at me...and I deserved it...I knew better!
March 13, 2006, 07:45 AM
couldbeanyone, Glad you are OK.
I'm the one how started that 3 page thread about getting hit at the range. I get hit about every other time I go, which is at least once a week. Three days ago at the range I was watching lead bounce off the partition in my shooting lane. There were 3 inexperience shooters and I know their rounds weren't making it totally downrange. I think a couple rounds bounce off the sides of the indoor range. They once hit the hanger for the paper targets, this is when I packed up and left.
These same guys were renting guns from the shop and had no clue as to eye and hearing protection. The range officer kept yelling at this one guy to put his hearing protection on before entering the range area. Unbelievable that they let these types of people on the range. But money talks and if they are going to pay the shop lets them on the range. Pisses me off.
I told the RO before I walked in, please put me far away from these people. But nothing you can do when a riccochet happens indoors.
March 13, 2006, 07:58 AM
Unless you're shooting into sand, stuff can/will come back. As steel gets older the surface gets pocked and cratered. I've been hit plenty of times as a competitor and RO at IPSC matches. Only saw a guy get it seriously once- he was hit in the calf with a jacket that ricocheted from an adjoining berm. It put him right down. It penetrated to the bone. When they took it out at the hospital it looked like a little ninja star.
March 13, 2006, 08:44 AM
Mistake number one. NEVER shoot jacketed bullets at steel plates.
I don't want to start a flame war here, but I am curious about guys with Glocks what are they suppose to use? Because of the type of barrel a Glock has, it is not recommended to shoot lead bullets. What do they use in matches????
March 13, 2006, 09:09 AM
It was at a GSSF match that the gentleman I mentioned was hit.:)
March 13, 2006, 10:46 AM
I have yet to be hit by anything coming back, (knocking furiously on wood) but I DO have a nice scar that has been with me over 20 years. Right above my left eye because I didn't give the proper respect to my grandfathers high-powered rifle while bench shootin.....:D
March 14, 2006, 07:57 PM
I posted earlier today regarding PMCGreen Ammunition. It frags on impact, and has no lead. Seems ideal for plates....
March 17, 2006, 01:20 AM
I posted earlier today regarding PMCGreen Ammunition. It frags on impact, and has no lead. Seems ideal for plates....
Saw that earlier today before reading this post too, and it does look like an excellent choice for plates...IF it is inexpensive enough.
Kinda bothers me that they are advertising it for law enforcement and self defense use without some extensive testing. Looks too much like the Glazer Safety slug.... :(
March 17, 2006, 03:52 AM
Lesson that I learned at the range:
Do NOT let a .300 Win Mag free-recoil.
Don't ask me how I know.......:eek:
March 17, 2006, 02:30 PM
If you are certain about the type of ammunition it was, then I suggest you get hold of a magnet and see if the bullets are ferrous (the ones in your box). If they are obviously ferrous, then push for removal or else you may have discomfort in the future with MRI scans. The other option is that you get somebody to check the X-rays to exclude the presence of jacketing attached to the fragments (lead and jacketing have different radiological densities, as visible in the attached radiograph of a guy shot in the foot). This was from a ricochet by the way.
A = small piece of lead (daughter fragment)
B = small piece of lead with attached jacketing (daughter fragment)
C = piece of peeled jacketing attached to parent fragment
D = parent fragment, radiologically it is a jacketed bullet fragment
And here is that main fragment, just after it was retrieved from the patient's foot:
The underside of that bullet fragment was flattened and had rough striations, indicating to me that it was a ricochet. The patient was struck by half a bullet and it passed through his leather shoe and entered the foot, making a curious entrance wound that was more like a short incision than a gunshot wound. The entrance wound can be very unusual in ricochet wounds.
March 17, 2006, 03:01 PM
Wow, I've been hit by very small fragments, but never anything quite to the degrees indicated above.
Looks like its time to find my old lacrosse gear-bag and dig out that jock strap and cup for my next trip to the range. I don't want my wife to replace me with "the Rabbit!"
March 17, 2006, 04:48 PM
A bullet ricochet can be bad enough, but let's throw a little Tannerite in the mix :D .
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