Is shooting at steel targets unsafe?!?!

Discussion in 'GSSF' started by Carlitos, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. Carlitos

    Carlitos

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    There is a thread on this topic going on in the general competition section. GSSF shooters use all sorts of ammo including hollowpoint ammunition and the plate rack is part of most of our shoots (was part of every one in the past).

    I have shot GSSF for years and see nothing unsafe about shooting at steel targets with any sort of Glock ammo, but apparently this guy thinks there is some sort of problem that requires a hollowpoint ban:

    http://www.glocktalk.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=5356975#post5356975

    I guess he just does not know. Please post your thoughts over there; I frankly do not see it; maybe some GSSF RO's can add their experiences (good or bad) for the sake of discussion & real life experience.

    Regards,

    D.C. Johnson
     
  2. ballistic3

    ballistic3

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    I actually work for a company called Just Shoot Me Products. We manufacture Ballistic Polymer targets. We are definitely not a fan of Steel Targets.

    While at a Cowboy Action Shoot (In Upland, Indiana) last summer, one of the shooters was hit in the head from a ricochet while using steel targets. Fortunately, he was ok.. but, he certainly was feeling it!!

    I know there is a lot of excitement to hearing the sound of the steel, but it is still something we hate to see people do.

    Now for the sales pitch... Check out our site.. www.ballistictec.com

    I think you will find that there is alot of excitement in shooting our targets, and they are DEFINITELY much safer than steel.

    Be Safe
    Greg
    http://www.ballistictec.com
     

  3. Fireglock

    Fireglock Which is worse?

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    "I think you will find that there is alot of excitement in shooting our targets, and they are DEFINITELY much safer than steel."

    And shorter lived. Cowboy shoots typically have rounds moving so slow the round doesn't fragment and you have a large projectile falling somewhere. And yep, it leaves a bump.
     
  4. Don At PC

    Don At PC Senior Member Millennium Member

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    I bet statistically you have a bigger chance of serious injury driving from your house to the grocery store than shooting a properly maintained set of steel with JHP.
     
  5. Carlitos

    Carlitos

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    ballistic3 - thanks for the link and the info. I looked at that link and the products are very interesting. When I am not shooting GSSF, I run an indoor USPSA competition here: www.shootersparadise.com

    Because it is an indoor match & we rely on overhead lights, I am always interested in ways to control fragments or alternatives to steel. Bullet fragments generally travel 90 degrees from their original path on striking steel and they can (and have) broken lights. We have not had "low velocity roll-backs" striking competitors that D.R. seems think are a huge problem.

    Despite the drawbacks of steel, I do not see a realistic alternative to all steel - such as activators at this time - even indoors.

    Besides activators for drop turners, swingers, etc, we shoot plates indoors; we attempted to use the NuBold plates but oddly, if they were used for more than 25 rounds, sometimes hyper-velocity 9mm rounds, (.357 Sig, 9mm Major and .38 Super in excess of 1300 FPS) would zip right through without disturbing the plate. The other problem is that a Nubold target cannot be used as an activator as it is too light.

    As for GSSF, I am interested in your company's alternative to the GSSF plate rack. What do you have?

    Interested in learning more.

    Regards,

    D.C. Johnson

    PS - your products are a more creative solution than banning hollowpoints.
     
  6. Rusty Phillips

    Rusty Phillips Moderator Millennium Member

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    Im sorry that this picture sucks, but he breathed all over my lense and fogged it up

    but this poor fella caught a fragment off of a plate rack at the Richmond GSSF match two (? has it been that many?) years ago

    the thing about it was that he was standing next to my new (to me) SUV at the time he got hit (a long way from the plate rack)

    Just think, if it were not for him staring danger in the face I might have gotten a cracked windshield or something

    IIRC he caught it on his nose - I think you can see a tiny bit of blood

    thank God for safety glasses
     
  7. ballistic3

    ballistic3

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    You are certainly right about the ban thing.. The "Ban" word should make us all nervous!

    A few questions... what style of plate target are you currently using (round, square, rectangle)? What size? How many plates/rack?

    Greg
    Just Shoot Me Products
    www.ballistictec.com
     
  8. Fireglock

    Fireglock Which is worse?

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    And the poor fellow was nowhere near the plate racks when it happened!
     
  9. Rusty Phillips

    Rusty Phillips Moderator Millennium Member

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    you caught me mid edit

     
  10. Rikki

    Rikki Pathetic Loser

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    In 2004 one of my ricochets hit a lady R/O (plate rack) at Lexington.
    Got her in the leg pretty good.Bad enough that she needed to go get some help digging it out.
    I felt terrible about it, and now shoot fmj or c-3 in Gssf instead of jhp.
    I shoot steel at Miamisburg, and the cars are COVERED with lead-as far as 50-75 yds away.
     
  11. Carlitos

    Carlitos

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    "A few questions... what style of plate target are you currently using (round, square, rectangle)? What size? How many plates/rack?"

    Our budget has been somewhat limited in the past, so we managed with just 4 USPSA square plates & one pepper popper (mini) that is used as an activator for USPSA, ICORE, and multi-gun/3gun. Also, we used 4 of the NuBold targets in the past, but stopped about a year ago.

    As for GSSF, the plate rack is supposed to have 6 evenly spaced plates that are 8" in diameter (correct me if I am wrong on this).

    As for fragments covering cars near the plate racks at GSSF - that is true. However, they are just small fragments & pose no risk (the rare examples cited above are exceptions); even frangible/lead free ammo will produce tiny, harmless fragments though. I am curios - in those instances where ROs were struck, what was the condition of the face of the steel? Cratered steel can be risky - no argument here on that point.

    And yes, frangible is so safe to shoot that I have fired it as close as 6" (yes- 6 inches) from the steel without injury. Problem is its very costly compared to lead.
     
  12. Butch

    Butch RetiredDinosaur CLM Millennium Member

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    He almost looks familiar......is he from Florida? :)


    ;?
     
  13. Don At PC

    Don At PC Senior Member Millennium Member

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    Both he and his Evil Twin are from Florida. Can't be sure by the pic which twin is in the pic. ;f ;f ;g
     
  14. rledwards

    rledwards Semper Fi

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    I have worked the plate rack stage at the Lexington GSSF matches for the last 6 years. Someone always gets fragged. I have been hit every year. In '03 I caught a jacket fragment just above the right corner of my lips. It came off the plate rack to the left of the one I was running and traveled close to 20 yds. The Urgent Treatment Center couldn't find anything. It kept bothering me and 6 months later when I went to the dentist I had him x-ray the area and he located the frag. Went to a surgeon to get it removed. GSSF paid all the bills without question. My wife is the one who took a frag in her leg in '04.

    Last summer we modified our plate racks at BGSL and replaced the 90 degree impact bar with a deflector bar at 45 degrees to the ground just below the plates. There has been a drastic decrease in the amount of frags coming back to the firing line. But there are still a few. Any time you shoot steel there is a chance you will get hit by a frag. This is one of the reasons why everyone is required to have glasses on at all times when anyone is shooting at our ranges.

    Be safe, and expect to get hit when shooting steel!

    --Lin
     
  15. degoodman

    degoodman Out of Columbus

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    Steel targets are perfectly safe to shoot at, as long as you understand what's happening and shoot within their limitations.

    First off you must be at least 10 yards away from a steel target, unless you are shooting frangible ammo designed to be shot at closer ranges. This is to avoid the backsplash of fragments of disintegrated bullets.

    You must be shooting at the target as nearly perpindicular as possible. Shooting at steel at an angle will cause riccochets. That's bad. You NEVER want a steel target angled towards the sky, or on an off center angle that could riccochet bullets off the range.

    Use the right steel for your ammo. Mild steel should only be used with handgun strength rounds. Steel that will absorb a .22 will likely not stop a .44 or a rifle round. If you are going to be shooting rifle rounds, you need hardened plate steel appropriate to the task. Too hard and the plate can shatter. Too soft and it will crater or perforate. Also not good.

    Shooting light loads at steel is DANGEROUS. The bullet must hit the steel with enough energy to destroy itself. That's why I avoid CAS shoots like the plague. They use heavy slugs, which take more energy to destroy, because of their greater mass. At the velocities they shoot them at the impact with the steel target behaves like an elastic collision and the bullets literally bounce back. Like dropping a ball bearing on a slab of concrete. The best analogy I can think of is the bullet is like a cheap foam rubber ball. Throw it at the wall dead square. At low speeds it just bounces off. At a high enough speed the foam starts to split and tear. If you get it going fast enough the ball doesn't bounce it explodes. The only difference between the ball and the bullet is the bullet is tougher, so the speed to make it explode is higher.

    I have been hit by several bullets at steel plate type matches. It happened so frequently at CAS shoots that I stopped going completely. Most of the time it's a piece of jacket or a chunk of lead. But I do have two slugs in my pistol case that are nearly intact (I keep them there to remind me why you ALWAYS wear glasses whenever you are near shooting). One is the core of a .45 ACP that came back at me after ricocheting (as nearly as we can figure) off of both the horizontal and vertical members of a permenant target stand made up of two pieces of angle iron at a PGC range, and the other was a .45 LC that came back off an irregular rock face we shoot towards in the desert out in AZ. The ACP did get about 1/4 buried in my arm, and it hurt like hell pulling it out. Took 5 stitches to close it up. The LC didn't break skin, but it left a bruise the size of a $.50 piece.
     
  16. rledwards

    rledwards Semper Fi

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    I have worked the plate rack stage at the Lexington GSSF matches for the last 6 years. Someone always gets fragged. I have been hit every year. In '03 I caught a jacket fragment just above the right corner of my lips. It came off the plate rack to the left of the one I was running and traveled close to 20 yds. The Urgent Treatment Center couldn't find anything. It kept bothering me and 6 months later when I went to the dentist I had him x-ray the area and he located the frag. Went to a surgeon to get it removed. GSSF paid all the bills without question. My wife is the one who took a frag in her leg in '04.

    Last summer we modified our plate racks at BGSL and replaced the 90 degree impact bar with a deflector bar at 45 degrees to the ground just below the plates. There has been a drastic decrease in the amount of frags coming back to the firing line. But there are still a few. Any time you shoot steel there is a chance you will get hit by a frag. This is one of the reasons why everyone is required to have glasses on at all times when anyone is shooting at our ranges.

    Be safe, and expect to get hit when shooting steel!

    --Lin
     
  17. Carlitos

    Carlitos

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    It appears we agree that some level of occassional bounce backs/fragments, (whatever you want to call them) do happen - that is a given - and its why eye protection is mandatory. Some are serious and some are not serious. Rack design may be able to limit the problem (good suggestion).

    But back to my original question that started this thread:

    -do you think that jacketed hollowpoints must be banned? What about lead hollowpoints? How about Gold Dots or Raniers - they are TMJ'd and NOT jacketed. Ban those too?
     
  18. Don At PC

    Don At PC Senior Member Millennium Member

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    Absolutely Do Not Ban JHP's .
     
  19. lethal tupperwa

    lethal tupperwa

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    I heard ND uses Remington side guards.
     
  20. njl

    njl Crusty Member

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    I'd say the JHP thing is a bunch of crap. I've shot a lot of steel. Both commercially produced plate racks and other steel, and plate racks welded together by Bubba in his garage from scrap steel.

    The "Bubba racks" are either much older or were made from milder steel and are cratered like a pizza face. At these matches, someone, usually multiple someones, always gets fragged. Most of the time it just stings. Very occasionally, someone will get hit by some jacket (from FMJ!) and get cut. These are also indoor, and it's not at all unusual for us to knock out one or more overhead lights. I've actually been hit in the face by my own bullets (FMJ) shooting these plates. I've found Blazer (bonded jackets) to be the safest ammo to use on these plates.

    The outdoor ones where I practice, I see lots of fragments on the ground >10yds back from the steel, but as there generally aren't large crowds watching me practice, getting hit is pretty rare. Call it a target-sparse environment. It has happened to me while timing and standing just behind and to the left of a shooter.

    My first GSSF match, I remember sitting down to load mags near a Glock the Plates setup (behind and to the right of the firing line) and having lead raining down on me and my bag.