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Old October 28, 2008, 01:53 AM   #1
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Goofy questions for gun range owners/employees

I've always wondered what becomes of all those bullets. One of the ranges I go to is always packed and I just can't help but wonder what it looks like back there at the end of the day. Do you recycle the lead for like car batteries and such or is there a process by which you can reuse it for cast bullets or something? How often do you have to clean up back there? Ever find anything interesting like flechettes, fish hooks, rock salt and various other stuff that people have loaded or from the novetly type ammo you see at some gun shows? Heck one time I went to the range to try out a new shotgun and somehow a single 12 gauge tracer round had made it into the range bag. Thank God I realized what it was and didn't shoot it. Can't imagine what kind of mess and problems that would have caused! I'd love to go back there after closing time and check it out sometime. Thought about asking but well ya know. Also, I can't believe all the bullet holes I see in such odd places. Some are quite scary like the ones in the dividers between lanes. I've seen some odd things happen at various ranges, but I'd love to hear YOUR stories.
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Old October 28, 2008, 02:07 AM   #2
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i'm not an owner or an employee but at our range (outside) i know that a couple guys that do there own reloading, including casting bullets, sift threw the backstop and collect all the lead. they melt the lead and pour it into their bullet casts.

they also walk around and pick up all the brass, reload certain sizes and recycle the rest.

"Stan, what did I tell you about watching the Osbournes? It's going to make you retarded!" Stan's Mom (south park)
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Old October 28, 2008, 04:54 AM   #3
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I am responsible for a small range at a private rod and gun club in Brooklyn, NY.
Twice a year, we pull the collection trays under the back stop and empty them. The lead is taken to a recycling facility by one of the members.
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Old October 28, 2008, 05:04 AM   #4
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The gun club I belong to recently had the land out in front

of the shotgun trap, skeet and 5 stand range mined by a company. First time in 13 years. We got like 40% of the take. It ended up being something like 68 thousand dollars. There is money in lead.

I'm waiting for them to shut down the pistol and rifle ranges for a while and do the same for the berms there.
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Old October 28, 2008, 09:03 AM   #5
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I've often wondered this myself. The indoor range I belong to has what it looks like a pool of water at the back of the range. I assume it's to catch falling bullets as they hit the backstop to make for easier collection and to contain the lead safely? Who knows? Think I'll ask next time I'm down there...
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Old October 28, 2008, 10:47 AM   #6
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The indoor range I go to sweeps the lead up at the end of the day and sells it to a recycling center. The cases are swept up and sent to a reloading company which loads them and sends them back. This way the range can sell cheap "range ammo," but you can't take the cases. I've been back there after closing (setting up for IDPA meet) and it's really not interesting. Just flat pieces of lead and fragments laying there. The cases are swept into a corner. The funny thing is the lanes smell normal, but the back area near the traps reeks terribly like lead mixed with chemicals. They must use some sort of "de-leader" solvent on the traps occasionally.

Yes, I always closely watch people shooting when I'm there considering all the holes in the walls, ceiling, and even a few dividers.

I don't understand how somebody could be so incompetent as to hit a ceiling or wall, let alone a divider.
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Old October 28, 2008, 11:30 AM   #7
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I was an RO at a county-run range and LE training facility. We had outdoor rifle, pistiol and trap/skeet ranges for the civilians and 50-yard and 100-yard rifle/pistol ranges for law enforcement as well.

Our brass was swept up and once a month it was picked up by a recycler. Customers were free to take their brass if they so desired. and if they wanted to pick and take brass from what was collected, god bless 'em, it was less weight for us to haul.

As for the lead...

EPA would come every so often and measure the lead level of the dirt backstop/berm. Occassionally they would come in with an end-loader and bulldozer and scoop up the dirt when it began to be more lead then rock, and they would replace it with fresh hard-packed dirt from god knows where.

They also had a thing that looked like a street sweeper or a zamboni that would come in and vacuum the grass field at the 50 and 100-yard ranges. presumably picking up the tons of brass that was deposited there by shooters doing IDPA/IPSC courses, LE training, etc. We had some problems because the county landscapers would come in and mow the grass and once or twice an unfired round got hit in just the right way by the mower blades and detonated, scaring the bejesus out of the landscapers.

Weird stuff...well, we didn't allow a lot of exotic ammo, of course--tracers, etc. The national guard caused a brush fire one year when they lit up the grass-covered 50-yard berm with some M60 fire. In 2005 some numbnuts kids snuck onto the impact area behind the 100-yard berm and started shooting bottle rockets over the berm towards the firing line--while it was occupied by shooters (a hot line.)! The bottle rockets elicited a cry of "Incoming fire !!!" from some of the more comedic wags on our firing line, but the kids back behind the berm dropped a few of the fireworks and started a brush fire (it was mid summer in south florida, dry as all get-out) and about 20 acres of county parks wildlife sanctuary land ended up burning. Firetrucks, bombadiers, even a few planeloads of fire-retardent ended up putting out the fire about eight or nin hours later, but the damage was done. Happily, the forest responded rather well to the clear-cutting and it grew back the following year.

Oddest stuff I found at the range...a half-dozen muzzleloading ramrods buried in the berm after sight-in for muzzleloader season; Dozens of steel penetrators from .50 BMG rounds, apparently the steel cores would violently shed their jackets when the impacted the dirt, leaving a long .40-ish cylinder of hardened steel; and quite a few spent 'beanbag' 12-ga non-lethal rounds, little square bags of canvas filled with lead shot.
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