Firing ranges provide a controlled environment in which to practice shooting. It’s vital that they are designed to anticipate any issues that could threaten the safety of the shooters and employees. One such consideration which must be considered is how to minimize the risk that bullets will ricochet at unexpected and potentially dangerous angles. What are the best practices to avoid lead bullet ricochet?
Ricochet is when one fires a gun and the bullet hits a hard surface or object at an angle such that it deflects off the said surface of impact. The bullet or bullet fragments after the occurrence may kill or injure the shooter, or people nearby, seriously or cause other forms of damage. There are various ways to reduce the incidence of ricocheting bullets in a firing range.
The type of ammunition, the kind of targets, use of impact-absorbing equipment and the general design of the range all affect the rate of ricochet. However, the simple presence of lead could potentially increase the frequency of ricocheting bullets, even with all these measures in place. The metal qualifies as a surface from which a moving bullet could impact, bounce off and cause harm.
Identify and Address Objects that Could Cause Bullets to Ricochet:
An old adage tells us that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Examining a firing range objectively, with a mind toward identifying any ricochet hazards, can help avoid this problem. Any hard surface which could deflect a bullet should be scrutinized and addressed. This might include rocks, metal posts, sprinkler heads, or even metal hardware. Ricochet hazards should be removed, where possible, or, potentially covered with a material that can absorb the impact of ammunition. For a thorough treatment of firing range design criteria, including recommended practices to address ricochet risk at both indoor and outdoor firing ranges, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Range Design Criteria.
Other Safety Considerations:
Depending on the layout and use of each individual firing range, one or more of several possible solutions may be employed to lessen the risk of ricochet. These solutions might include:
- utilizing steel traps to capture spent ammunition and fragments of ammo
- employing the use of granulated rubber to absorb bullet impact and contain bullet fragments
- creating designated shooting lanes that place patrons out of harm’s way
- recommending the use of specific ammunition less likely to fragment or ricochet
- encouraging or requiring patrons to wear safety goggles and protective clothing
Gun owners need a safe place to practice shooting. A comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to address the risk of ricochet at each firing range is a proactive way to protect patrons so they can hone their skills in a secure environment.
Removing Lead as a Control Measure for Bullet Ricochet
Due to the numerous safety concerns, rules and regulations are necessary. There are also recommendations or best management practices, BMPs under which gun ranges should operate. Removing lead, therefore, is a very useful preventive measure against such incidents thus protecting any individual at or near the range. One of the most recommended BMP for the safety of a gun range is having a fast and effective means by which to get rid of lead. Gun range owners should prioritize shooter & employee safety and their protection by employing a BMP that will ensure as minimal lead as possible in the range.
What should you do for lead contamination in your range?
- Only use the bullet traps that minimize generation of lead dust
- Carry out routine cleanup in the range using proper disposal techniques and methods.
- Avoid dry sweeping, dusting, or wiping.
- Train and inform the workers of post-warning signs and hygiene.
- To reduce the range contamination, consult EPA best management practices
- Provide and make use of protective garments.
- Improve filtration and ventilation systems.
Firearm owners, sports shooters, gun enthusiasts, law enforcement officers among other individuals who use guns often visit the shooting range. These are the places designated for the sole purpose of firing guns. There are thousands of firing ranges in the United States, for a great list of Where to Shoot, the NSSF provides a comprehensive list.
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