View Full Version : How often do accidents happen in Comp?

June 6, 2012, 10:55 PM
I was at an IDPA match recently and one of the rounds hit a 55 gallon plastic drum, spun around in it, then exited at a 90 degree angle to to the incoming trajectory and hit the barrier between lanes. It was kinda crazy to think about the fact that 90 more degrees and it would have been heading right back to the group. Not that worried about it, but it did make me think...how often does something like that happen that results in an accident in competition shooting? It was only my second match, so who knows.

Jim Watson
June 7, 2012, 12:00 AM
I have heard bullets zing around inside barrels but not (yet) seen one come out.
The main "accident" is from bullet spatter off of poorly maintained steel targets. Eye protection and a stoic attitude will get you though that.
Otherwise, the safety record of competitive shooting is impeccable.

June 7, 2012, 11:25 AM
This is the first time I've heard of a bullet escaping a barrel. I've shot close to 500 USPSA and IDPA matches, and have never seen anyone injured for any reason other than a slip or trip. Occasionally, a piece of bullet jacket will come back and hit hard enough to draw blood, and that's happened to me many times, but that's why we wear safetay glasses (and keep our mouths closed! :eek:).

June 7, 2012, 11:36 AM
I've been shooting and running competitions for a long time, formally since 1973.

Never had a serious accident on the range, but I will say I'm pretty nasty in regards to safety. I get real uptidy.

Closest I can think of is in the old days when we used paddles to mark shots and scores in HP. The got shot and spattered splinters on the guys in the pits.

Also happens when some one hits a spindle. I require eye protection for pit crews.

Other then that, I was working with 4-H kids and air guns. The club used huge tires as back stops. A pellet bounced off a tire and hit a kid in the knee leaving a slight red mark.

Don't use tires and back stops and always WEAR EYE PROTECTION while on any range.

As a side note, I was practicing in my back yard shooting steel plates, A piece of lead came back and inbedded in the lense of my shooting glasses.

Other then eye protection all other accidents can be avoided my the 4-simple safety rules, or if not avoided, nothing or no one gets hurt.

Stuff does happen, for example I had a wad gun (38 wc pistol used in Bullseye) that would double every now and then. The results of those accidents was a bad shot, costing points but since the pistol was pointed down range, nothing or no one hurt.

As a side note, I do required ECI (empty chamber indicators) on any rifle not actually being fired.

June 7, 2012, 09:23 PM
I've seen blood in an IPSC match a few years ago. The guy tripped over the edge of a rise where you had to kick a door down and in the automatic reaction to prevent his gun from falling his face (nose) hit the ground. Lots of blood was flowing even though his nose wasn't apparently broken. His gun was still in his hand so he was not DQ'd! :D

That's the worst accident I've ever seen. Hockey, baseball, etc. well... that's a different story. I'm at the age now where I'm glad to be in the wimpy safe sport of practical shooting :p

June 7, 2012, 09:48 PM
From school statistics - by far the most dangerous is football !! I was a fencer and parents wouldn't want their kids to participate in fencing [one of the very safest !] but let the kids do football without question !
OMG swords -not my kid !! :eek: Football includes death ,permanent injury to neck etc.
I remember a poorly designed indoor range that had a reputation of bounced bullets .
The big danger to me is the new IPSC shooter.Mistakes must be caught immediately and the shooter carefully instructed in safe proceedures and insisting on learning smooth not speed !

June 8, 2012, 05:48 AM
Yes, stuff happens.

I was not there that day, but at my USPSA club, a shooter had a discharge during his draw and shot himself in the leg. Yes, he recovered and is shooting again. He considered himself lucky it happened with his 40 Limited gun rather than the 38 super with JHP.

I have also seen random splatter from steel. No serious injury, but the lesson is to look at the targets so your eye protection works best.

June 8, 2012, 06:18 AM
I have seen a couple instances of bullet fragments coming back and hitting people, nothing serious. Safety has always been stressed prety well- I've seen more folks DQ'd for safety violations than I have accidents.

Don P
June 8, 2012, 08:02 AM
Seems for a period of time we here in FLA had 3 accidents within 4 months just a while back. Folks shooting them selves either holstering or un-holstering, one was even a deputy sheriff:eek:

Jim Watson
June 8, 2012, 08:24 AM
In this area, I know of more people shot at gun shows than at shooting matches.

Hmm, I wonder how many automobile collisions there were on the way to or from the show or shoot.

Bart B.
June 8, 2012, 05:34 PM
At the Nationals some years ago, a guy fired a round in his Obermeyer barrel that had been recalled bacause it was one of a lot from the steel mill that were improperly heat treated. It blew out just in front of the receiver so chards of forend wood and barrel steel really messed up his left arm and hand. He had chose not to return the barrel for a new one.

Someone had put bird shot mixed with epoxy in their M1A's magazines bottom half to make the rifle heavier. Reloading a magazine in a rapid fire match, the top round slam fired and the result was gas blowing down into the magazine putting pieces of epoxy and bird shot into both legs on their inside. The other 7 rounds in the magazine were bent and tossed all over the firing point.

A guy with a very long and large beard was shooting his high power match. In his first sitting position shooting his first 5 shots rapid fire, his beard got caught in the Win. 70's claw extractor as he closed the bolt on a round loading it. That pull on his whiskers pulled them and some skin out of the right side of his cheek.

A Presentation Grade 7.62 NATO M1 Grade A was rebuilt by the USN Small Arms Match Conditioning Unit, San Diego in the late '60's. When taken to the test range to get zeroed at 600 yards, the very first round loaded into it slamfired driving the op rod's handle back into the palm of the right hand of the guy (a good friend) who loaded it. 'Twas determined that the M1 had too little hammer-sear engagement and the shock of the bolt slamming home on a chambered round whose bullet was seated a bit too long was the cause.

In a .45 ACP pistol match, a woman was shooting slow fire when a round exploded driving the slide back, breaking off the recoil spring shroud at its front and driving the slide off the frame. She suffered some facial injuries. Examination of her handloads showed some had triple charges of Bullseye under those 185-gr. wadcutters.

Canon City, Colorado, mid 1980's; a shot from the 1000 yard line went low barely clearing the safety berm then bounced off the bottom pipe of the target frame and down into the target puller's thigh. A veterinarian doctor at the match treated him and it was just a flesh wound. I didn't shoot that match 'cause a month earlier, I'd warned the club maintaining the range that the top of the safety berm in front of the targets had been shot away too much, A bullet from a low shot could bounce off it and hurt someone in the pits; more dirt should be packed atop it or the target carriers lowered.

When I was 13, I'd been shooting my pellet gun at some cans. I don't remember exactly what happened, but my left hand' palm got over the muzzle at the same time my trigger finger did its job. The scar's still there and I still remember what the doctor said while he was removing the pellet.

I know there's more; the odds are that it will happen.....sometime.

June 9, 2012, 01:05 AM
I recall reading an article a few years back that claimed that there had been only one shooting related fatality at an organized shooting event in the U.S. in the last century. As I said that's been a few years ago so (1) it may no longer be true and (2) I can't remember where I read it.

I also can't recall the specific details of how it happened, but the fatality was a non-participant. As I recall, there was some sort of oddity/defect at the range in question that allowed a bullet to either come back or get past the berm and it hit the person in the head.

June 9, 2012, 07:51 AM
Shooting sports, especially up here in Canada, are held to a different standard of safety in the public's eye than other recreational and professional sports. Fatalities happen rather often during skiing events, yet such accidents don't fuel movements to ban the sport of skiing and to make the possession of skis illegal.

On the other hand, a single fatality during an IDPA or IPSC event here would cause an uproar and a renewed political effort to ban the civilian ownership of handguns completely in this country. The fact is that if gun sports weren't much safer than other sports, they wouldn't exist at all in the current political and cultural environment.

June 10, 2012, 05:22 AM
(I think that fatality was at a USPSA match, and it was a young spectator hit by a ricochet).

I've competed in over 200 matches without noticing any firearms-related injuries.

June 10, 2012, 01:33 PM
These incidents are not recorded so deniers can claim accidents don't happen.

I will recount a couple of high power incidents.

I think it was in the 90's, during the National Matches on the old Vaile Range, a rifle bullet hit the stairwell and went into the jaw of a match official in the pits. He may have been the Pit Officer or an assistant. I was on the other range but I remember the ambulances and they took him off. I was told the gentleman was an retired Marine (there is no such thing as an EX Marine) and once he was patched up, he came back, minus some teeth!

The pitts in Vaile have been changed.

Now a range I shoot Highpower is a National Guard Range.

Recently they put up these plastic frame holders, we used to use wood.

In 2010 or 2011 a Marine was under these frames and forward of them. That is, he was downrange of the firing line and not directly underneath the berm.

A bullet deflected and went into the Marine. It may have been into the collar bone, what we heard is multiple hearsay, we do know it was serious but he lived.

I took pictures of the frames and if you notice, bullets keyhole in the things. I believe given an unfortunate set of circumstances, a possibility could be a berm shot that skipped into the stand and then was deflected even more, or maybe just a unstable round, anyway you have to be aware that bullets do not always go through things in a straight line.

Safety rules were changed and no one is allowed to go forward of the targets when the range is hot, no one is allowed to park downrange of the targets.


Path of bullet that keyholed



Clear view of keyhole

More keyholes.


June 10, 2012, 02:33 PM
"How often do accidents happen in Comp? "

Once in every five matches. ???

June 10, 2012, 05:43 PM
The worst accident I witnessed at all the ranges I have been to and competed at was someone forgetting to set his parking brake in his van and when he opened the door to get out, the vehicle started rolling and the door caught a tree which forced it shut on the driver's leg as he was trying to get out.
Fortunately, one of the skeet shooters at the range happened to be a doctor.

June 10, 2012, 06:23 PM
I shoot at a DNR range. I took a angle iron target frame cause the one supplied sometimes are bad. I chain mine up so it dont get shot up. It disappeared and was told atr the next conservation clunb meeting that was not allowed. The club maintains the range for the DNR.

Few weeks ago I attended a Ruger Challenge Match. 112 reg shooters each hitting 120 STEEL(iron) targets. No one hit ot injured by richocets.

June 10, 2012, 09:41 PM
I did some 22 and shotgun shooting with the local 4H a few years ago. 4H gradually made it more and more difficult to continue with limitations on what you could get for donations from gun stores, etc. I wondered how many incidents they have had over the years in their shooting sports programs.

Every year, just at our local 4H clubs at the county fair, kids or family members would be bowled over by pigs or steers, either at home while raising them or at the fair. I bet there's quite a few broken legs and arms around the country and other assorted injuries associated with the raising of these animals.

As far as competitions, most of what I have seen has been minor injuries with lead splatter. Over the last few years there have been a handful of incidents that I've heard of, many when drawing the gun. But overall, with as much participation as their is, there are relatively few incidents. Mark

Jesse Tischauser
June 11, 2012, 02:21 PM
Worst thing I have seen is me having a case delegation or failure causing the gun TO blow up essentially. That usually leaves some powder burns and cuts on the hands. I've experienced splash off of jacketed bullets hitti g steal multiple ti E's. Most time it's just a little blood and it stings a little. All important reasons to always keep your safety glasses on even when not shooting.

June 12, 2012, 05:55 AM
Coming from a cycling background, IDPA is WAY safer.

At any given day of bike races, there were usually about 200 or so people competing in 8 to 10 events. On average, 15 to 20 people crashed at some point and got bruised and cut. One or two would be bad enough to warrant an ambulance ride to the hospital.

In the dozen or so IDPA matches I've been to, I've yet to see anyone bleeding and no one went away in an ambulance. True, it's an individual sport instead of a group sport at high speed and close quarters, but it does not change the number of injuries involved.

Clifford L. Hughes
June 12, 2012, 11:34 AM

I served twenty years in the Marine Corps; one of our training requirements was to qualify once a year with the rifle. So I have twenty weeks shootinh and pulling butts. Pluss, I shot on the base rifle and pistol team for five years. On the team I shot two months before the divisiion matches and four weeks at the division. Each day that I shot I had my day in the butts also. Not once did I experience an accident.

Semper Fi.

Gunnery Sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired

Glenn E. Meyer
June 12, 2012, 03:08 PM
I've seen or know of personally:

1. Two legs shots from Serpas holsters.
2. Had my chin split open by a fragment off steel.
3. Saw a rifle round ricochet off a lane next to ours and truly whack someone in the head. Another round came in on the same path and bounced off the top of the sun shelter.
4. Had a guy draw his 1911 and ND a foot away from my toes and a inch of the SO. I was score keeping.
5. Saw a 38 Super round bounce of a tire (don't use) and slap someone hard in the chest.

Seen three or so close call sweeps of the pack. Eek! :eek:

This is with years of shooting, BTW.

June 13, 2012, 11:37 PM

I served twenty years in the Marine Corps; one of our training requirements was to qualify once a year with the rifle. So I have twenty weeks shootinh and pulling butts. Pluss, I shot on the base rifle and pistol team for five years. On the team I shot two months before the divisiion matches and four weeks at the division. Each day that I shot I had my day in the butts also. Not once did I experience an accident.

Semper Fi.

Gunnery Sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired

Thank you for your service and all of the very good advice you give on TFL.

June 25, 2012, 01:35 AM
Does practice count?

Two words.

TEX Grebner.

1. Two legs shots from Serpas holsters.

I don't think the holster shot them.

June 25, 2012, 04:09 PM
You are absolutely right, but he said the shots were "from" the holsters, meaning the gun in the holster. If he had said shot "by" the holster, you'd have a point. Under the circunstances, you don't.

June 28, 2012, 12:57 PM
I had an Unload and Show Clear accident in the late 90's at an Area 6 Match. The ejector in my gun hit the primer of the bullet I was unloading at the end of the course of fire. The round went off out of the chamber, the bullet hit the ground and the brass case had a piece of it whizz by my chest scratching it under my shirt. Blood did slowly flow, and a trip to the emergency room was in order to get a Tetanus shot. I did get a DQ because of where the bullet landed. I did get the gun fixed. I still do shoot competetion. You should have heard the comments from the HR Department at my company when the "Gunshot Wound to the Chest" report was filed by the insurance company!

Old Grump
June 28, 2012, 05:28 PM
1971 man shooting to my right had his right elbow shattered with a 45 hardball when his buddy shooting to his right had a gun malfunction.

1973 newly refurbished range had rubber tires as a berm at 25 yards. We lined up as the first shooters since they had redone the range and our 22's came flying back at us causing a couple of minor rips in our clothing and bruises on our chest, belly and one shin. Match was held up till they got a crew with a truck to come in and remove the tires.

5 years ago I closed down the shooting at our club when I realized that a group of guys standing next to the clubhouse propane tank were getting sprayed with 22 fragments. Some bone head didn't like the 25 yard targets and stuck a t bar into the ground at 15 yards and hung a target on it. Then handed his grandson about 10 or 11 a rifle, handful of ammo and left the range.

Never saw grandpa again but I had a word with the boys mama and she was ****** at her father. Place wasn't a village park with a playground or a baby sitting facility and there was nobody there to watch the kid or to instruct him.

First incident was amateur gunsmithing, second was p-poor facility planning and the third was pure bad judgement by grandpa. Not an accident in the bunch from my point of view.

serf 'rett
June 28, 2012, 06:00 PM
Was scorekeeping (actually taping a target) last month when the clip board slipped out from under my arm and landed on my exposed toe (wearing sandles). Busted the sucker.

Was policing brass after team practice and someone unknowingly had an additional round in their pistol. Pointed the pistol at the floor beside me and squeezed the trigger. I got hit just below my eye with a piece of concrete, but just bled a little.

July 10, 2012, 05:16 PM
Everyone gets hit by shrapnel once and I still have a scar from one that actually drew blood while hitting me in an area where I was wearing a shirt.

I have seen one Remington moment that could have been dicey. Which of course started the usual discussion.

Otherwise it is not the most dangerous sport, by far. I have seen much worse in motocross.

July 15, 2012, 04:47 AM
ND's with injury happen alot.

(1.) A SouthWest Pistol league expirienced shooter shot and killed himself within the las ten years. That was public information. (2.) The Las Vegas guy shortly after opening his 'school', had a student ND himself in the leg with a SIG, the owner wrote-up the entire ND as a quasi press release. (3.) Before it was sold, API in AZ had four NDs with injury that I know about. (4.) Between 1982 and 1989, I personally read the Medical Examiner's report on two seperate ND deaths at a range near me. (5.) A spectator at Silicon Valley multi agengy LEO SWAT shooting event was hit with a 115 fmj to the front of his BP vest circa 1999 or 2000. (6.) Jim Cirillo told me he took a 148HBWC to the calf muscle at a PPC match in the 1970s. (7.) In the early 1990s at a LE firearms instructor class that was held a month or two before mine, a soon to be instructor soaked-up a frontal gun shot wound from another, soon-to-be-instructor. (8.) I was at the indoor public range when a cock the hammer first & lay it back down for a fast pick-up shot type shooter, ND his own foot with a 2'' .357. It was a S&W M19. At this same indoor range, one employee told me he was on duty during four suicides. And he also said that the other indoor range a few miles away held the record for even more suicides and ND ijuries. I have been at two gunshows when someone ND one into the ceiling and one to the floor.

But I tell myself it won't / can't happen to me. Ha Ha.

July 15, 2012, 04:41 PM
It is certainly true that there are NDs and NDs involving fatalities on a fairly regular basis at shooting ranges. The question was specifically about accidents during competition.

During organized shooting events/competitions, the number of accidents and the number serious injuries tends to be much lower because of the additional structure and safety precautions imposed.

July 15, 2012, 05:46 PM
Mentions of negligent discharge reminded me of an event that happened to a bud of mine.

He was competing service rifle at the Camp Perry National Matches. This ND happened during the standing stage where you shoot 10 rounds for score at 200 yards. He said a Junior next to him was “handling his rifle dangerously” and Junior’s AR15 rifle managed to ND a round in the airspace between Bud’s arm and body, I assume taking a divot out of the firing line.

Luckily no one was hurt.

Now what I think was happening was Junior was sweeping the firing line while loading his rifle and the rifle slamfired. I saw one competitor at the Nationals, shooting standing, who raised his AR match rifle up to his face, the rifle parallel with the firing line, he put a round in the port, put his hand through the carrying handle to hit the bolt release, with the rifle parallel with the firing line. If this rifle had slamfired, the bullet was going to be traveling in the direction of a bunch of people. At that time nothing was done, I hope if line judges ever see him in the future they have the authority to DQ the guy and get him off the range.

What people do not take into account is the possibility of a slamfire with rifles that have free floating firing pins. Anytime a firing pin rebounds off a primer there is a real finite probability of a firing pin initiated slamfire due to a sensitive primer.

Don’t load these rifles with the muzzle in line with anything that you don’t want to kill.

I saw a number of shooters put their AR15 muzzle on their shooting stool, put a round in the chamber, and hit the bolt release. Enough reports of AR’s slamfiring through the shooter’s stool surfaced that now it is illegal to rest a loaded rifle on the shooting stool.

Tom Servo
July 15, 2012, 08:01 PM
I have seen a couple instances of bullet fragments coming back and hitting people, nothing serious.
Heck, when I shot bowling pins, that was par for the course. I learned really quickly why the older guys had bushy beards and wore aviator glasses.

I've seen a few ND's during competitions, though none causing injury. The most recent actually happened outside the range, and the guy responsible was not only unrepentant, he demanded his deposit back because he wasn't going to be allowed to shoot. Jeez.

Several years ago, a friend was running a bullseye shoot at an outdoor range when an unaffiliated person showed up. The guy asked if he could shoot, and my friend explained that the range was sequestered for the shoot. The guy then went to the line and loaded up. Before my friend could stop him, the guy put the gun to his head and took his own life.

The incident was at first reported as having occurred during the competition.

July 15, 2012, 09:18 PM
Rodger that on NDs during competition. Sorry about getting carried away with the public ranges, training schools ND examples. I would not want any one to believe that NDs only count during competition.

July 15, 2012, 09:30 PM
They certainly "count" at any time in terms of the tragedy and loss of human life--I didn't state, nor even imply, otherwise.

However, the distinction in terms of where they occur is pertinent because of the way the question was asked. From what I can determine, accidents, especially accidents involving serious injuries or death, during organized shooting events are rare.