Welcome to the 2009 Range Newsletter.  2008 was a solid year for the facility with membership growing 15% from 2007.  There are lots of new faces wandering around here.  I used to know every person using the range because I signed them up.  Now there is no way I can meet everyone.  We had 24 new members join in November and 28 joined in December.  We must be doing something right such as keeping this a safe, clean, and friendly place for you to enjoy your firearms. 

    The Online Gunstore is still going strong.  We have one of the most active Gallery Of Guns sites in the country.  Buying online from our store will save you money on your next gun.  Thousands are in stock from just about every manufacturer you can think of.  Order today and it is here tomorrow, shipped next day air to the range.  It can't be much easier.  All guns on the site are priced at 10% over dealer cost.  It is the lowest margin that our distributor will allow.   This means the prices there are always the lowest you will find.  All the guns sold on the gun store carry a lifetime warrantee from Davidson's, the distributor.   If you have a problem with your new gun, Davidson's will repair or replace it for free as long as you own it.  Its a fun place to poke around and check out the details on guns.  Here is a link to the site...Online Gun Store. Once on the gun store page, click on the power search button to start looking for your next gun.

We are still finding equipment at the range damaged by irresponsible, thoughtless, ignorant shooters.  I spent most of my day picking up trash and repairing damaged stuff here.  I even picked up a christmas tree someone threw out on the member's rifle range.

Notice how the lids won't close.  Its because the dumpster is full of crap I picked up here today.  Crap left by members of the range. 

I also found plates that are absolutely hazardous to shoot at left here for me to clean up.  This swinging plate was on Range 3.

Take a look at the face of this plate...

    Each of these bullet strikes created a deep pocket.  If anyone were to fire a handgun at this plate from handgun target shooting distance, usually 10 to 12 yards, they would have been hit by large fragments that were redirected uprange.  Each pocket is an opportunity for the projectile to make a U-turn and come back at the shooter with enough velocity to penetrate.  I personally have been injured by plates in this condition on other ranges.  Once, at an USPSA Area 6 championship match held in Georgia, I caught a frag on my cheek that had to be dug out.  I was standing uprange with the rest of my squad waiting to shoot.  When my squad got to preview the stage, I found the plates in similar condition.  I know other people who have lost months of work and endured surgery to repair damage caused by rounds returned at the shooters by plates just like this. 

How did this happen?
    I can give you an education on the properties of steel used in target systems.  This particular plate is made from 5/8 thick mild steel plate.  It has been hit about a hundred times with a rifle, such as an AR15 chambered in .223/5.56 or an AK/SKS rifle chambered in 7.62 x 39 or something very similar.  Had it been shot with handguns only, it probably would still be just fine for shooting.  Handguns don't possess a fraction of the energy that rifles put out.  Another problem with this target is its design.  Once struck, it goes into motion and can swing wildly.  Shots hitting it while it is in motion will be deflected at angles along the plane of the face of the plate.  There is no control.  Fragments will go up, down, left and right with enough velocity to launch over the berms and leave our property.  We cannot have that happen here, ever.  Quality targets are designed so the fragments are controlled.   They follow the path of least resistance, down, left and right.  Never up.   Quality targets are made of materials that will withstand the energy of handguns with no damage to the surface of the plate.  The best plate targets are made of "AR500" steel.  It is a very hard steel alloy with a Brinnell hardness of over 500.  Mild steel, like this plate above, has a Brinnell hardness of around 130.  

MGM targets web site has good info about this matter.  We use MGM  and Action Target steel plate systems here.
"All our targets are made of 500 brinell steel, which is the same hardness as Armor Plate. AR 500 is comparable to roughly a 52 on the Rockwell C scale, which is also about the same hardness as a good knife blade. In addition to the chemical composition of the steel, a “quench and temper” process at the steel mill further enhances the steel hardness and toughness. In comparison, your car is made of mild steel, about 135 Brinell, and T-1, (the old steel for targets) is about a 235 hardness. AR500 can withstand literally thousands of rounds from reasonable distances without significant damage."
"The MAIN reason bullet fragments hit people is because the surface of the target is damaged. Damage is usually the result of 1) the target was shot with a rifle (or shotgun slug, or .44 Mag -or larger-), or 2) the steel was too soft to be a satisfactory target, in which case, traditional pistol rounds could have damaged it, or 3) any combination of the above. If the target face is smooth, bullets hit it and splatter like an egg thrown against a wall. If it is dimpled or cratered, bullets hit it and ricochet out of the craters in any direction. Damaged steel should not be used, even with extreme caution, regardless of the distance the shooter is from the target."

Check out the FAQ page on MGM's page and watch the video on the Action Target page to learn more about what goes into a great target.  I learned years ago that T-1 plates won't hold up to the beating we put on them here.  I used to buy the T1 plates and fabricate our own racks but found that I was spending a lot of time with them down, broken, beaten to peices.  The investment I made in the MGM and Action Target systems has been one of the best I have ever made.  AR500 lasts forever when not abused.  There is nothing more fun to shoot at than reactive plate targets.   We have them here because I enjoy shooting on them.  It is definately a draw and attracts more people to our range.  With that said, take a look at the plates as I found them today on Range 4, a pistol range...

Click on this picture so you can tell what what happened here.  Look at the far right hand plate.  It is cored, got a hole clean through it.  These are "AutoPoppers" from MGM.  I bought them about 10 years ago.  They too are made from AR500.  Take a look at MGM's site about these targets.  They are the 8" round "Auto Poppers".  Yes, $187 each.  If you read the FAQ page from the MGM link above, you know that they cannot be repaired.  I can't weld it up and return it to service.

It has been hit multiple times in about the same spot to kill it.  Note the other divets around the hole.  AR500 can take a beating and still be servicable.  They are not designed or intended to be shot with rifles but these light dents are from other rifle hits.
What's more,  all the plates on on both racks on this range have been shot with .223 ammo from a rifle. 

What can I do?  These plates are now dangerous in their current condition.  I can turn them around and use the back side.  Each and every member of this facility has had a "Range Safety Orientation" as part of the process of joining the range.  The orientation is not much more than a review of the Range Rules with a Range Officer.  Each is explained and any questions are answered.  No member can honestly say, "I didn't know I was not supposed to do that".  Lee and I put our heads together and came up with the following solution...

1.)  EDUCATION.  That is why I explained what these plates are made from.  What they are intended to be shot with and what happens when they get damaged.   Most importantly, what safe targets look like and why these are much safer than home made targets.  Take a look at what they cost.  They ain't cheap.  We also are producing a Range Safety Orientation video.  Each new member will be required to view the video and pass a test of his understanding of the firearms safety, do's and don'ts, and range ettiquet.

2.)  RESPONSIBILITY.  If we catch a member shooting a steel plate on a pistol range with a rifle, shotgun, or magnum caliber handgun, they just bought the plates they hit.  Whip out the credit card cause you won't have enough cash to cover this.   I'll help you load them in your car.  Don't want to pay for what you damaged?   I'll see you in small claims court... and I'll bring along the signed membership agreement where you agreed to take responsibility for your actions. 

3.)  ACCOUNTABILITY.  More accountability on the part of each member using the range?  Absolutley.  Now when any member uses the range, he will be assigned a range to shoot on and be given a pass for that range.   If the member wants to use another range, he must go to the range office, turn in his first range pass and get one for the second range he wants to use.  If a member is caught shooting on a part of the facility he does not have a pass for, range staff will end his day at the range.  He will be required to pack his stuff and leave.  He can come back tomorrow but he is done for the day.  Range staff will be checking the facility frequently to assure compliance with this new procedure for range use.  It is for the best.  It does not restrict range use at all but it does provide accountability for any damage done.  We know who used it last and when it was checked last.  This system is in use at hunting clubs everywhere so it should not be foreign to most of you.   I enjoy shooting steel as much as everyone else.  Good steel targets cost good money.  Some of the target systems we have here are over 10 years old.  They are in good shape because we take care of them, pulling maintenance on them regularly.  A few morons are messing up what we have here and I'm fed up with it.

4.)  SIGNAGE.  More signs reminding members of the basic range rules.   I started by posting these signs on all the pistol ranges.  Get caught shooting rifles, shotguns or heavy magnums on these ranges and you will go home.
Want to shoot rifles, shotguns, or big magnum handguns?  Do it on the Public Range, Range 3 or on Range 7.   The rifle plates on these ranges are designed for high powered rifle use.  They too are made from AR500 but I used 1" thick plate.   They are holding up to the pounding dished out by high velocity ammo. 

This is a rifle plate, made from the 1" thick AR500.  Click on the picture to bring it to full size.  Now take a look at the stand the plate is hung from.   This is heavy 3 inch angle, mild steel.  See how the bullets passed right through it.  I have had to rebuild these every few weeks.  The plates are fine.   The stand is usually cut up.  The last several I have pulled for maintenance have been rebuilt using AR500 for the stand construction.  They have not required any further work and have been up and in constant use for months.  

I saw a few other things around the range related to a lack of education...

This is a mild steel spinner target made by Birchwood Casey.  It is a pretty cool target for shooting with 22's.  It was designed for 22's and will not tolerate anything heavier.  As you can see, this one has been killed by high powered rifle rounds.  What concerned me was where I found it.  To be used safely, it has to be placed at the berm.  If placed anywhere else, a riccochet hazard exists.   Rounds shot at it will skip off the ground at an angle greater than from where they were shot from, upward, possibly (probably) over the berm.  You can tell when this is happening because they make this really cool whhhhhhhheeeeeee sound as they head into the trees over the berms.  This ain't cool.  No ammo can ever leave this place.   It has to stay here.  All the target systems here are designed and set up to prevent anything leaving here off of one.  This is why we have a range rule here that says, "shoot only at paper, cardboard, or the range's steel targets".  No others are allowed.  They are not as safe as what we use here. 

This is a concrete block I found out in the middle of Range 3.  Someone dragged it to the center of the range and shot it.  Where do you think the bullet went?  This side was hit with a bullet.  The other side was hit by a shotgun blast at relatively close range...

This is about a 6" pattern from birdshot.  Shotgun patterns are the size of the bore for the first 3 or 4 yards then they open up about an inch per yard.  That means this was shot from about 9 or 10 yards.   Its location in the middle of the range, about 25 yards from the berm, means that there was a risk of causing rounds to leave the range due to them skipping off the ground.  This is unsafe.  It cannot happen here.  It will not be tolerated here.  This is not a target.  The clowns who shot this up are on my watch list.  I know who used Range 3 on Saturday, January 3, 2008.  I know this was not here Saturday morning when I checked all the ranges.  Only one group used this range between the time I checked this range and found this brick.  I also had to pick up several target stands that had been brought from Range 4 to Range 3.  These also were placed in the center of the range and shot on.  Again, a violation of the range safety rules.  "All rounds must impact the berm downrange."  I could see from the divots on the ground in front of the berm that this was not the case.  We have these rules for a reason.  

Oh, the stands they used and left out for me to clean up...  swiss cheese...

Range 4 also had a few stands left out.  There is an unwritten Range Law of Reality that says, "anything and everything downrange will get shot".  This is why the practical shooting props are gone.  Guys drug them out, used them and left them out on the range.  Other shooters shot them.  I even found wall sections with targets hung on them.  Once they were damaged beyond use, I had a party with a chain saw, some gas and a match.  This is how I found the half the stands on Range 4...  The other half were drug off to the side of the range next to the berm.
Range 4 also had a few stands left out.  There is an unwritten Range Law of Reality that says, "anything and everything downrange will get shot".  This is why the practical shooting props are gone.  Guys drug them out, used them and left them out on the range.  Other shooters shot them.  I even found wall sections with targets hung on them.  Once they were damaged beyond use, I had a party with a chain saw, some gas and a match.  This is how I found the half the stands on Range 4...  The other half were drug off to the side of the range next to the berm.
The picture below is how they are supposed to be stored.  This is the way the shooters found the stands because I cleaned up this range last week and stacked them just like this uprange where they would not get shot up.
Guys, they are here for you to use.  Just be sure to put them away when you are done with them.  Put them back the way you found them, where you found them. 

These are cones that are on Range 3 for use by law enforcement agencies to designate the different distances shot from in the qualification course.  They are not targets and are stored under the covered area uprange.  I found these drug out and set up on the groung about 15 yards from the berm downrange... shot up.  They have been blasted with a shot gun and rifle fire.  Same morons that shot the brick above. 

The 25 Commandments....
Maybe the problem is that we are not taking enough time when going over the safety rules.  Most of the new members are really in a hurry to get out on the range and this safety briefing is considered a waste of their time.  They already know how to shoot.  The four NRA rules should be enough.  Not here.  Moses had 10 commandments... I have 25.  Please take a minute to review the rules.  Each is based on common sense and has your safety as its source.  We gave you a copy of them when you joined. 

F.O.P. Range Inc. Safety Rules

1.                     Use of eye and ear protection is mandatory on the F.O.P. Range Inc. facility.  Steel plate shooting creates fragments that can harm your eyesight if a fragment were to hit your unprotected eyes.

2.  All ranges are “cold” ranges.  No loaded firearms allowed anywhere but on the range firing lines.

3.  You must use the following verbal commands on the range firing line:

4. Load your firearm only at the range firing line.

5. Keep the firearm pointed downrange at all times. 

6. Never turn around or face in an unsafe direction (up-range) with a loaded firearm.

7. Never put your finger on the trigger until your sights are on your intended target and you are ready to shoot.

8. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

9. Shoot only at paper, cardboard, or the range steel targets.  

10. Never shoot the steel targets with a long gun, or heavy magnum caliber handgun.  Standard velocity handgun ammo only.

11. Use target stands.  Do not shoot at targets placed on the ground.  (ricochet hazard)

12. Adjust your target so that all the rounds fired through it strike the backstop downrange.

13. Every round you fire must strike the backstop downrange.  If your rounds leave the range, so do you!

14. Clean up.  Pick up and dispose of all fired cases, including the .22, 7.62x39, and other non-reloadable cases.  

15. Dispose of your used targets in the garbage cans. 

16.  Put away any range equipment you got out or used. 

17.  Return any borrowed range equipment to the office before you leave.

18.  Do not throw or leave any garbage on the ground.  This includes cigarette butts, cleaning patches, etc.

19.   Keep children under control at all times

20.  Alcoholic beverages are not allowed.  Alcohol and guns never mix.  Anyone we suspect has been drinking will be asked to leave the property.

21.  Pets are not allowed on the ranges.  We cannot protect their eyesight or hearing. 

22. Members are responsible for the actions of their guests. 

23.  All guests must be accompanied by a member while shooting on the range.

24.  Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded and could fire.   Never point an unloaded firearm at another person.  Respect the potential damage a firearm can do to a human.

25.  Always check the condition of any firearm you handle to be sure of it’s loaded or unloaded condition.

Failure to obey any range rule may result in the suspension or revocation of your range use privileges

That wasn't so hard.  I just read them again (looking for typo's) and it only took me about 2 minutes.  I want each of your visits to this facility to be safe ones.  The staff will always treat you with respect.   We ask that you and your guests please respect this facility, follow all the safety rules, leave the range you used cleaner than you found it, and have a good time here enjoying your firearms.  If you have any questions, ask a staff member.  There is no such thing as a dumb question here.  Most of the problems we are seeing here are caused by ignorance.  They just didn't know or understand. 

Safety is everyone's responsibility.  

There is no such thing as an accident when it comes to firearms.  Only negligence.  Just about every "accident" is usually caused by someone not following the basic rules of firearms safety.  There is always the possibility for a mechanically caused unintentional discharge.  If you follow the above rules, when it goes off, it will be in a safe direction and into the berm. 

We did have an mechanical/negligent discharge here last week.  On Range 6, a member was quick drawing from a holster and dropped his Glock.  This Glock had been modified with an action job that gave the gun a light, crisp trigger pull.   The gun went off when it hit the ground.  The round did impact the berm downrange in a safe direction.   It was luck that determined the direction of the shot.  Negligence caused the discharge by the dropping of the loaded gun.   Negligence also contributed to the mechanically caused discharge.  He had a buddy tinker with his gun, deactivating the safety features of the firearm.

One other thing we have seen this year... We have had two incidents where shooters were using surplus 7.62 x 54 Russian or Chineese ammo in bolt action rifles.  Both experianced several hang fires.  This is when the firing pin hits the primer but the round does not instantly go off.  There is a pause before the gun goes off.  There is a common sense rule that says if your ammo malfunctions, keep the gun pointed in a safe direction for at least a minute before attempting to open the action and clear the chamber.  In both of the incidents, the shooter opened the action and had the round go off as they reached into the chamber area to remove the "dud".   When the round went off, it was similar to a small grenade.  It sent a bunch of metal into the hand and face of the shooter.  Had they not been wearing glasses (as required on all the ranges here...  this is the reason for this rule...) they would have had eye injuries.  Both required treatment at the hospital to get the metal out of their fingers. 

Yes, that is his blood all over everything.  Hell of a mess.

     This is us cleaning up the mess.  The moral of this story to be careful with that old surplus ammo.  It will bite.  If you have a hang fire, don't be in any hurry to get it out of your gun.  I have heard instances of it taking more than 20 seconds to go off.  Give it a minute or two at least.  The other shooters who witnessed this occurance told me that they had warned him about hangfires after seeing the first few he had.  If you have more than one out of a box of ammo, get rid of it instead of shooting it.  It ain't worth the risk of getting hurt or hurting somebody beside you.   We will be happy to dispose of it for you.  We'll pull the bullets and powder and kill the primers with a little oil.

That's it for now.  I'll update this page thoughout the year as needed to share information relevant to what is happening at the range.  Be safe and always shoot straight,

Jon Grigsby
Range Master