View Full Version : I got shot at the range

January 21, 2006, 01:17 PM
After shooting I was sweeping up my brass when I got nailed square in the back. I had my back to the range and felt an enormous thud and pain.

All the range lanes were full and everyone was firing, I have no idea who it was. Obviously, it was deflected from the range or trap and sent back towards the booth where I was. I've been hit with little pieces of shrapnel before, but nothing serious like this. It took my breath away. I kept feeling around my back expecting to feel a hole or some blood. I told the range officers about what happened and they said similar incidents have happened before, thats why its so important to wear eye protection. What kinda response it that?

I have to sign a waiver everytime I enter the range- basically that they are not liable in the event something like this happens or you get killed.

When I got home and took my shirt off my wife said the skin was broken and a nice welt in the center of my back. She asked if I wanted body armor for my birthday.

Has this happened to anybody else?

High Planes Drifter
January 21, 2006, 01:22 PM
Never anything serious like that. Your lucky. I had a reload come back at me once when I was shooting my Taurus .45 Colt revolver in the woods, it bruised my foot. Glad your ok.

Harley Quinn
January 21, 2006, 02:13 PM
Since the round would have been spent did you find it?
If the area was clean and inside, I would think you would have found the spent round?:confused:


January 21, 2006, 02:21 PM
HQ- I didn't think of this until I was driving on the way home. I would have liked to have seen the size of the slug that hit me. I wasn't thinking all that clearly after the incident.

The range was over crowded and at the time my lane was the only one clean. With all the people and extra brass, don't know if I would have found it anyway.

I'm OK, thankfully it didn't hit me in the face or I would have been down on the ground for sure.

January 21, 2006, 03:27 PM
Not the first time it's happened but perhaps it's wise to avoid a crowded range.

It wasn't me but we had a case where somebody who was not shooting stepped onto the range to exchange a few words without eye protection and lost an eye.

I'd look at the range layout for obvious rebound hazards if it has happened repeatedly. I'd worry about lead dust coming back as well. Or I'd try another range.

Alfa One
January 21, 2006, 03:41 PM
I once got a seriuos richocet back nearby my private parts while we were shooting steel plates. When we do it now, I keep my mouth closed, hoping nothing will hit my face.

January 21, 2006, 04:23 PM
I have had a piece ricochet off the back stop and actually cut my skin on the left side of my stomach. It actually grazed the left side. Never an entire bullet that was still intact.


January 21, 2006, 04:42 PM
I told the range officers about what happened and they said similar incidents have happened before, thats why its so important to wear eye protection. What kinda response it that?

Actually, it's a pretty fair response. You got hit by a ricochet / bullet splatter. It happens. I've never taken a hit from a full on bullet ricochet, but I don't shoot indoors and don't participate in IPSC/IDPA or other activity that involves close range shooting on metal targets.

What kind of range where you at? Indoors? Do you have metal hangers? If so, someone probably shot one and that's how it came back.

Hollow points tend to split into smaller fragments and that could also have been a contributer to the ricochet.

But, yes, that's why it's important to wear eye protection. Not just for blowback from firearms, but from ricochets from bullets and/or fragments.

January 21, 2006, 04:49 PM
I was hit in the face just below my glasses by something

It cut my cheek and the bottom of my ear. Some blood a little bruising and a lot of cussing.

The RO commended me on my safety awareness for placing the gun on the table as I was ducking down.
He gave my buddy a little flak for covering me with his as I was tactically crouching near the floor.

I'm still not sure which one of us responded properly

January 21, 2006, 05:47 PM
Wow, glad to hear you're OK. I packed my gear and walked off the range a week ago as a shooter in the lane next to me was clearly not safe. He had hit the steel buckle that rides the cables a few times and I had seen ricochet off the floor...that was enought for me. Inexperienced yahoo using the biggest range rentals they had, 45. auto and a .44 mag.

January 21, 2006, 05:52 PM
Wow! I'd have to say this is the first time I have heard of this happening to someone. I was told that weaker powered pistols could not be used for this reason but I never heard about any incidents until now. I'm glad you are okay and that you had your back turned.

January 21, 2006, 05:53 PM
Last Fall I had the Lake Region Special Incident Unit (the High Risk Entry/SWAT Team I lead) on out on the range. As is our habit, we finished up live fire training with a double elimination competition on the Dueling Tree.

We were shooting from 15 yards, when one of the rounds (180 grain 40 S&W fired from Glocks) bounced back off the steel and struck me in the neck. It felt like Hulk Hogan power chopped me.

Fortunately it had expended a lot of energy on the steel and didn't penetrate. Other than bleeding awhile & leaving a pretty good bruise/burn mark, I was OK. Understandably, I had a difficult time concentrating next round, and didn't shoot very well. SWAT operators being what they are, I got no sympathy from my troops.

It turned out to be a fully intact but deformed bullet, not a fragment. It struck me above the collar of my tac vest and below the lower edge of my helmet, essentially the only area between my belt and top of the head not covered with ballistic protection. We were unable to figure out which part of the tree it struck which caused it to come back as it did.

In all the years I've been shooting, this is the only time anything like this has ever happened to me...

January 21, 2006, 05:59 PM
Your lucky.The guy upstairs was looking after you.:)

January 21, 2006, 05:59 PM

You are lucky as hell it didn't smack you square in the wind pipe. That could do some serious damage. Forget eyes and ears. I'm going in with a face mask and full body armor! :eek:

January 21, 2006, 06:17 PM
Glad your ok :)


January 21, 2006, 06:36 PM
Yeah, it was pretty scary there for a couple minutes. I knew what happened the second the round hit, and my instant reaction was "*&#@*! This isn't good"!

You would love my guys (I sure do, but I'll never let em' know it). As soon as they ascertained Sarge wasn't going to bleed out on them, they INSISTED, no, DEMANDED I get back on the line! Even my most junior operator (affectionately known as Cannon Fodder), figured the Old Man was vulnerable and could be beaten after being shot!

As I said, lots of sympathy & warmth in this group, God bless every one...:D

January 21, 2006, 09:35 PM
I have never been hit with a fragment or a ricochet but I have found fully intact bullets not cartridges but bullets by the fireing line. I have also found them on tha shotgun range at work which is seperated (by a six foot wide ten foot high dirt berm with telephone poles encaseing it) from the handun range. Both of the ranges are 25 yards. I still can not figure out how that happens and the found bullets have little or no deformity. I am glad that you guys that got hit are ok. I can only wait for my turn as I spend alot of time on the range coaching and instructing.

January 21, 2006, 10:18 PM
The closest was at the ranges at Ft. Benning at the Army matches. some os were kicked back on the berm where Rifle competition was chowin down on some MREs when one of the guys standing forward from us got hit with an expended bullet. Stuff was coming from a pistol range over that part of the berm. Couple of guys got some expended bullets and bruises as souviners...
luckily no one was hurt any worse.

I would probably think about going to a new range.

Not so sure a waiver is going to protect them if they have a dangerous conditon and have knowledge of it and dont attempt to fix it.

January 21, 2006, 10:25 PM
I've gotten naialed up to 25-yards away from the backstop at my club's Indoor Range. I've even had blood drawn while shooting at the 7-yards line (about 10-yards from the backstop).

I'll echo what the ROs at your range said; this is why EVERYONE SHOULD ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION. Not much you can do.

Look at this video: http://www.break.com/index/targetshot.html

January 22, 2006, 01:54 AM
I worked at a now closed range in WA. The back stop was a knife edge design with a snail decelerator. basically the traps were armor knife edges with traps on about a deg. angle or so. I ran fun shoots on paper and pins and plastic pop bottles. I was the RO on the range and I fallowed the shooter threw every step of the stage right next to them. I was cut on the arms and face about 4 times in 7 mos. I was laid out once with a Rainer ballistics Gr ball rnd. my second found that the shot was square on the knife edge and it bounced strait back. It hit me in the head just above the bill of my hat. The shooter was experienced with my range procedures so he froze and cleared his gun. I made it a point to never set a stage that put a shooter strait in front of a knife edge of a trap. I as well as others on the range ducked a few other frags as well.
good luck and keep em tight.

Optical Serenity
January 22, 2006, 02:19 AM
Wow, well, I always wear my vest to the range. Never had something that bad, but I tell you what...Hot .308 brass that gets caught between your skin and a vest hurts like hell too!

January 22, 2006, 02:52 AM
For what its worth at the range(outdoor) I go to if you use a steel plinker(pistol range only) it has to be at least 25 yards out. Not that a ricochet couldnt still happen but it greatly reduces the chances. Glad to here your fine! Probably make you safer in the long run!

January 22, 2006, 04:19 AM
Never heard of that happening at a range.
I was shooting at rocks with my .44 mag and had a round come back and hit me square between the eyes. The copper jacket stuck in the skin and it took some pulling to get it out.
I don't shoot at rocks anymore.

January 22, 2006, 05:25 AM
In 1996 I was shooting in a state-wide fallin plate match in Birmingham. Not sure how many people were there, but they had six stages and all were active. I had finished on one stage and packed up my gear to move to the next. I had cautioned my wife to wear her safety glases at all times because of the possibility of splatter. As we were moving from one stage to another, I grabbed my side and fell to my knees. She asked what had happened? "I think I've just been shot!" I replied. Upon examination, there was a tear in my shirt, broken skin, slight bleeding and a whelp slightly larger than a silver dollar. I also recovered a slightly deformed .45 caliber SWC slug inside the shirt. I've still got it as a souvenier.

Don't know how it happened or who did it, but it hurt like crazy.

January 22, 2006, 06:12 AM
About 9 months ago I was at a local outdoor shooting range. I was shooting my brand new S&W Model 15. I shot at a spinning plate that had apperently been shot at with something big enough to cup the plate. When I hit the plate it sent the round right back at me and hit me in the ribs. Hurt like heck. It didn't break the skin but it buised like I had been shot point blank with a paintball gun. It does suck, don't want it to happen again thats fur sure.


January 22, 2006, 06:36 AM
Well, let me tell my story.....shootin steel plates at 25 yds, pickup in the driveway. This was in Madison county, NC where I used to live. Heard a loud clunk.....after several minutes of looking and wondering....found a spent 45LC lead bullet resting on the hood of the pickup.....right in the middle of a golf ball sized depression!

Glenn E. Meyer
January 22, 2006, 10:43 AM
Taking a class taught in part by an Austin Swat officer - a fragment off a steel plate sliced the bottom of my chin. Direct pressure for awhile stopped it. Wife was mad at the bloody shirt.

How about casing bops!

I was at the Academics for the Second Amendment meeting and we went to the range. Some one was firing a 50 cal 1911 pattern. I was far away from the lanes but a casing bounced off the side of the lane and nailed me in the noggin.

Similarly, on the line in a course, a 45 ACP bopped me hard on the hard and left quit a bruise.

January 22, 2006, 01:26 PM
Thanks for the replies. I figured others had to have similar events.

I think next time I see the range getting to full capacity or some people handling firearms unsafely I'll make my exit immediately. Not an experience I want to repeat, but could have been worse after reading some of your replies.

Mal H
January 22, 2006, 01:29 PM
Glenn, do you need to rephrase that last paragraph? ;)

I've been hit with a ricochet once. It was a .45 ACP 230 FMJ. Didn't hurt, but the bullet was still very warm.

The only other person I know of that was hit was Mike Irwin. We were shooting at steel plates and he took one on the chin. Bled just a little IIRC.

January 22, 2006, 01:38 PM
I shoot a lot and the worst that ever happened to me was hot ejected brass caught under my eyeware-I'm sure everyone knows how much fun that is.
I suspect something was out of control at your range when this occured. I'm talking about perhaps an inexperienced shooter doing god knows what 5 stalls down from you. Sometimes the rangemasters miss someone who needs a gentle talking to.
Still, it is totally possible that a controled shot from an experienced shooter bounced off something-who knows?
Thank you for sharing this experience, it reinforces the importance of what we've been taught about "range awareness."

Harley Quinn
January 22, 2006, 01:50 PM
I just let it burn and keep firing I try not to allow anything to distract me, if I am shooting.
I look at it just like a shooting, if you will, where someone is shooting back.
If you get hit you can't stop shooting.

Same in a fight someone hits you, absorb and hit back that simple.

The Zen of shooting is my thoughts. LOL


January 22, 2006, 01:59 PM
The range I shoot at has recently gone to a requirement that all shooting at steel targets be done with frangible ammo. At least the pieces that hit you will be smaller:rolleyes:

Glenn E. Meyer
January 22, 2006, 07:30 PM

Dr. Freud has caught me!!!

A 45 ACP casing from Karl Rehn's gun hit me and left quite a bump!!

My wife is asking why I'm laughing with tears in my eyes at the computer. :D

January 22, 2006, 09:46 PM
Yikes, I'm glad you're safe.

January 23, 2006, 10:17 AM
Funny, I went shooting yesterday, at an indoor pistol range, to the left of me two lanes down was a young couple shooting a rented fully auto MP5 to the right of me was a guy was shooting in the last lane next to the wall. The girl went to shoot the MP5 for the first time on full auto and the barrel I assume climbed on her, she shot too high, striking the metal bracket holding the cardboard backstop. Now I have had people shooting some loud stuff and I may flinch a little, but that metal on metal "bing, bing" sound scared the heck out of me. The guy to my right said he saw something strike the wall at around the 5 yard mark. and I felt a fragment of something strike my face near my left cheek. Felt like it was smaller that a BB, did not break the skin but it felt like I was looking at frying bacon when the grease popped. I was wearing eye protection, and now I always will. I think I'm avoiding crowded ranges also.

January 23, 2006, 10:30 AM
back when i was young and stupid, i smashed my finger working on a 68 impala
it was winter,35 degrees,unheated shop in friends back yard,grabbed a .25 beretta that he kept over the door,shot the impala in the door from about 10 feet away,bullet ricocheted and hit me right on the knee cap, felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat,forgot about the pain in my finger real quick...no real injury(major bruise)...lesson,never hunt impalas with small caliber weapons

January 23, 2006, 11:15 AM
never hunt impalas with small caliber weapons

lol....now thats funny....

A buddy of mine once shot his wife's car with a .45 auto. Emptied the clip into the radiator/hood area. He killed it dead......:D

Mike Irwin
January 23, 2006, 11:36 AM
"The only other person I know of that was hit was Mike Irwin. We were shooting at steel plates and he took one on the chin. Bled just a little IIRC."

I remember that day.

I actually took it right over the left eye tooth. I really thought it had broken my tooth when it hit me it hurt so much.

It did nick my chin, as well.

Every time we've shot at that range I've been hit with small pieces of detritus coming back from the plates. That time it was just a lot larger.

January 27, 2006, 12:37 PM
Glad to hear you're okay!

That ricochet may not have anything to do with the crowd, but as a rule, I try to avoid a range if it's crowded. And I try to avoid a lane that has a guy on the lane to the left of me. I've gotten hit by shells from that left lane a few times.

And another thing is I check out the other attendees and if I see some yahoos, I try to get a lane as far away as possible.

Mike Irwin
January 27, 2006, 03:49 PM
This had everything to do with the crowd. We were shooting a falling steel plate match at a private range in Maryland. It was the only shooting venue open at that point.

One shooter at the line trying to knock down all the plates in the least amount of time.

No yahoos involved at all, and the RSO was running a very tight ship. It was just a factor of the range set up that day.

January 27, 2006, 04:13 PM
Just a couple of times:

1. At the CATM Range (Air Force) down line from a guy whose very hot .223 brass kept bopping me in the head. The range master caught it before I got burned too badly.

2. At the CATM Range during the day that the LEO's honor their fallen. The SP's were having a fund raiser shot and one of the shooting sections you fire at metal targets. The first target was about 5 feet away from the line and I shot that one and the bullet came back and hit me in the leg. I just kept on shooting and just checked after I had completed the run. Just a welt / buise so all was good.


Hollywood D
January 27, 2006, 07:44 PM
That's my biggest fear when I go to the range, being hit by a ricochet. When not shooting I always try to stand behind something and out of the way. I also shoot at outdoor ranges too though, where the background is dirt.

January 27, 2006, 11:06 PM
The only time I did not volunteer to go to the range...

We were teaching a Army Nusrsing Class how to make rifles and pistols safe in case wounded soldiers come in with them. This is one of those classes where they take civilian Nurses teach em how to put on a uniform and tie thier boots and then they go to classes in military medicine.

My first student for the day was a brand new 2nd LT who said she knew nothing about guns... I think she slept in the safety briefing/classroom instruction before the hands on part of the class. I indicated the safe direction the weapon should be pointed in and handed her a "simulated" loaded pistol and told her to make it safe.. she then pointed it at me and started waving it at me like it was her finger and was talking...:eek: I grabbed it pointed it in a safe direction then proceeded to chew her out with the last word being Maam.

After class was over I was invited to be a RSO at the range... I declined..lol

January 28, 2006, 07:59 AM
A friend of mine and me were shooting in an indoor range about 3 years ago. He felt something hot hit his left forearm and thought it was hot brass. He reached down and felt blood. A ricochet hit an artery in his forearm and he lost a lot of blood. EMS took him to the local hospital and told him he was very lucky that medical aid was close by or he could have bled out. It was a scary experience to say the least.

January 28, 2006, 12:52 PM
I think something needs to be mentioned here... Don't just wear eye protection. Wear ANSI rated protective lenses. The range I go to allows people with eye glasses to just wear those and I'm pretty darn certain that regular glass lenses won't do a darn thing against a ricochet round. In fact, glass lenses will probably be even worse as you it will send shards of glass into your eye. People who wear glasses need to wear the hard plastic safety glasses over them to properly protect themselves. The same goes for sunglasses. If you are shooting outdoors, wear protective plastic lenses over your sunglasses if they are not rated by ANSI as protective eye wear.

Eye patches look cool during Halloween but they look pretty stupid if you have to wear one every day. You only get one set of eyes and ears... protect them!

Chris Cullen
January 29, 2006, 05:47 AM
During our qualification shoot with the Remington 870 pump, it was just my fellow officer, instructor and myself out on the range and the rest of the group standing in the safe zone behind us. We had some old slugs which we thought would be a bit of fun.
We were just shooting at these little steel targets about 30 feet away and the first shot made by the other officer went well... the second round however hit the plate and split apart and sent a few bits back at the three of us. One chunk whizzed past the right side of my head, and a piece hit the other officer in the right leg. He claimed it stung a bit, but when I noticed his jeans changing colour I thought that we should really pay attention to that.
Funniest thing would have been the sight of us three out on the field and one guy dropping his jeans to his feet in front of the other two.
He ended up pulling a nice piece of the slug out of his leg which penetrated the jeans and got lodged in his skin. No more slugs for us today we all decided.

Chris Cullen

January 29, 2006, 06:01 AM
i found that lead 38spi bullets are probably the worst i have ever seen about ricochett...

January 30, 2006, 02:18 PM
Last year I was in a IDPA type match at an indoor range and was sitting with my wife waiting for my rotation to come up at the back of the range. We were watching the action and my wife fliched and said "Ouch".
Aparrently, a round had ricocheted off of a steel target, then a wall, and came flying 30+ yards back towards my wifes face.:eek:

Even though we were only observing, we wore our eye protection. The round hit her glasses right where the bottom edge meets the cheek. There was a red spot for a couple of days but she come out fine.

January 30, 2006, 05:36 PM
I was timing a friend on a course we designed hitting steel plates at bout 20yds out. I was behind him another 3yds or so when on of his 9mm rounds came back and hit me right on the back of my right hand. It left a nice blood blister in the spot it hit. I found the round and it was the whole thing, not a fragment.

Capt. Charlie
January 30, 2006, 06:29 PM
This happened quite a while back, but SirLoneWolf and I were shooting full house .357 mags at an old stove, when one of my rounds bounced back and hit him. I'd never seen anyone hit with a ricochet before, and I thought he'd actually been shot at first. Really freaked me out! I'm a lot more careful about what I shoot at today.

January 30, 2006, 09:22 PM
I'm starting to think shooting is a very dangerous sport. :eek:
I also thought an indoor range is a safe place to shoot, now I might have to ask someone if anyone has been hit by a ricochet at that particular range.

Chris Cullen
January 30, 2006, 11:16 PM
It can be dangerous, but so can golf, or racecar driving, or scuba diving, or boxing....
Nothing worse than getting wacked in the head with a speeding golf ball! Thats one I experienced.

Chris Cullen

January 31, 2006, 08:54 AM
... the reasons for shooting steel targets, so I can't really say "DON'T DO IT". Maybe some kinds of training require it.

But, if you can avoid it do NOT shoot anything hard. If you have to, don't shoot it with anything hard. The most dangerous combination is a piece of spring steel shot with a full metal jacket. It's like throwing a superball against a wall. The round can EASILY come back at you. The harder both things (round and target) are, the more energy is still in the bouncing round.
An example of something safer is shooting at an aluminum road sign (not that do that). The aluminum is usually thin enough that the round deforms it and/or goes through it. The energy it takes to deform the sign is energy the round no longer has, even if it does bounce back at you. Shooting anything that absorbs the round (soft wood, a BG) uses ALL the round's energy so that's completely safe, assuming BG (or the wood, for that matter) is unarmed.

The range I'm using now has what looks like a huge sheet of rubber (I'm sure it's not) standing at a 45 degree angle to the floor. I'm guessing that rounds hit it and are reflected up toward some sort of absorbing stuff (wood, maybe) in the ceiling.

Funny that I know how all this works but have been shooting with my (plastic) eyeglasses only. From now on, I'll get eye protection as well.

I don't know if any of you have ever done this one. Years ago I was shooting my Cougar 45 at the range with my daughter. I wanted to know how loud it would be if I ever had to use it in an emergency (i.e., without ear protection). So I told her to stand to my side and, when I said "go" to pull my right ear muff away till after I shot.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it was LOUD ! I've flown in foreign countries where they let you board through the rear of a DC-9, so I've been standing in a hurricane of warm jet exhaust while the pilot revs the engines. That doesn't even come close to how loud the .45 was. I found out what "ringing in the ears" meant.

January 31, 2006, 11:14 AM
Yep, been hit three times with ricochets. Once while shooting concrete (not cement) blocks outside. I was breaking them with my 41 Mag that I sold. My buddy could not break even one with his .357. Well, those bullets were going somewhere. One hit me in the chest. We thought it might be prudent to shoot something else...
The other two times were at an indoor range; once in the foot (barely noticed) and once in the thigh (that one stung a little).

January 31, 2006, 12:47 PM
I'm shooting at a dirt hill covered with snow and mud. Hope that's safe enough. :)

Sometimes I go over to the hill and look around for the bullets.

January 31, 2006, 01:11 PM
There were only two of us shooting at the indoor range and we were about 10 feet apart. Both of us were using 45 Colt LRNFP 250gr. The other guy took a shot and a split second later my head snapped back and I almost went down. Sitting the the table in front of me was a fragment of the bullet that had fragmented and ricocheted out of the traps 75 feet down range. It landed smack in the middle of my forehead, just above the brim of my ball cap. I usually would wear the cap to keep hot auto bbrass from bouncing between my glasses and face, as I saw happen to a buddy once. This time it kept my head from getting cut at the least. I still have the fragment. As it had never happenned before I was not overly concerned.

One week later I took my own 45 Colt round off my foot. Same range and similar conditions, very empty. I could tell it was mine since I hand loaded the damn thing! That one hurt and left a nasty bruise. Having reatined almost all its weight it carried a good bit of energy, although most of it had been lost bouncing around the trap at the end of the line. Since then the range has cleaned out all their traps and replaced the steel. No problems since then!

January 31, 2006, 02:50 PM
Everytime I go to the range all I think about is getting hit again. My concentration should be on the target and what I'm doing, but in the back of my mind its still there.

Sounds like this is a not so uncommon experience from all the replies. Hmmmm, do I want to buy another gun or a bullet proof vest to protect my life. Sounds like the indoor ranges especially need to be designed better to prevent these incidents.

January 31, 2006, 03:04 PM
I look at it this way. The bruises I get from fencing far exceed anything I had from my two range incidents. Even with a full bullet trap those rounds lost so much energy that what did make it back was incapable of causing serious harm as long as proper safety gear is worn. I know far more people with scars from fencing accidents than from ricochettes at the range.

I wouldn't fence without my mask and other protective gear, I also won't shoot without hearing and eye protection.

I don't worry about the small chance of a non-life threatenning injury when I fence and I also don't worry about it when I shoot when all the rules are followed.

February 5, 2006, 11:42 PM
at a 25 yard pistol range a guy with an uzi fired full auto in a stall next to me and about half a dozen flat lead discs came back and hit me in the chest while i was shooting. the bruising was no where near as much as you'd get from paintballs but it was still a bit unnerving. hence i refuse to shoot at pistol ranges shorter than 50 yards now.

February 6, 2006, 12:09 PM
Last Friday at the indoor range during our defensive pistol league night while shooting at the steel dueling tree from 10 yards, I got smacked in the forehead by a richochet. No big deal. It felt like someone pelted me with a small stone. A few months back while shooting from one of the stalls, the range officer got a richochet back from one of the jacketed bullets that someone was using. The jacket was imbedded in his upper lip and he had to get someone to help his remove it to cause minimum scarring.

February 6, 2006, 01:57 PM
Not to highjack the thread, but the subject came up...

I’ve shot handgun on metal targets since 1974 or so. I know I’ve personally fired over 20,000 rounds on metal targets in that time and supervised (ran the match) many times that many. I have one colleague who has supervised and shot a lot more.

The primary value of a metal – gong – target is ease of scoring. If it makes a sound, you hit it; if no sound results, you missed. In practice sessions this gives immediate feedback to the shooter.

On a flat metal surface more or less perpendicular to the path of the bullet, bullets do not ricochet. Handgun bullets fragment on impact, even fully jacketed bullets. The fragments fly off the face of the target along the face of the target. Anything to the edges of the target will be peppered with fragments; dangerously so up close. The fragments fly in a 360 degree pattern, parallel to the face of the target. If the fragments hit another solid surface, one obtains a secondary splatter effect. So, metal targets should not be hung over concrete pads or a metal plate. A bullet fragment splattering off the target can be secondarily deflected back to the firing line. (This is the usual cause of ricochet hits in indoor ranges; sort of a two or three cushion shot back to the firing line.)

Another, very serious form of ricochet is from a cupped or cratered metal target.

Metal targets suffer from three forms of damage. All are annoying, and all can cause fragments back toward the firing line.

Craters or cups in metal targets are the most dangerous. By cup, I refer to an indentation that does not penetrate the plate. Cups are usually formed by impact of a large heavy bullet. The resulting indentation can – on the next hit – allow the projectile to slide down the side of the cup, be turned in the bottom and slide out of the cup right back at the firing line with little loss of velocity. Even if the bullet hits the bottom of the cup and shatters, the sides of the cup direct the fragments back toward the firing line.

Holes in metal targets are typically caused by high velocity impacts. Various strength metals have different limits, of course. What works well for moderate handgun rounds can be cratered or punctured by a top end .357 Magnum load. A .30-30 rifle, pedestrian as it may seem, will put about a .40 - .50 inch hole in quarter inch mild steel plate. The resultant hole will almost always have a raised rim around the entry side. This raised rim will fling minor fragments back toward the firing line, usually at the unnoticed to annoying level. Depending on the size of the rim, this could be potentially dangerous.
The round that penetrates steel can peel off the jacket and the jacket can be ejected in any direction. I have witnessed one minor injury from a jacket bounce; a small but rather painful cut on the forearm requiring a stitch or two to repair. Being hit in the eye with such debris would be catastrophic.

The third problem is the bending of the plate. Shooting mild steel or boiler plate with non-penetrating rounds is pretty much like beating on it with a hammer. Sooner or later, the plate will start to bend under the impact. Turning the plate around and shooting the other side will beat it back flat, more or less.

I am not a metallurgist. I once knew what kind of plate to ask for at the metal yard, but I’ve forgotten. The good news is the people at the metal yard know about it and will direct one’s attention to the material best suited.

For general handgun use, I suggest nothing thinner than three-eighths inch thickness. Rifle targets should be thicker for longevity. Again, talk to the man at the metal yard.

If you know anyone with experience building a silhouette target set, they are an excellent source of information.