by Gerrit Grundling

Target Shooting – Safety First

I am stating the obvious but, ladies and gentleman, Guns are dangerous. Yes, they are. Do you know how many people get killed by accidental guns a year in the US alone? Well between 06-16 the number stood at 6885, and this excludes the lucky ones that where just injured.

In saying this it is not to say we should increase control on guns or G#d forbit ban them. No, what this means in my view is we should push for more adherence to the basics of shooting Safety Procedures.

Here are the NRA fundamentals of shooting range safety instructions. This is to serve as a reminder for all, and an important read even you are saying by now, but I know it.. Yes exactly, you should read this. The fact is that becoming over complacent is a leading course of gun accidents at shooting ranges.         

So remember:   

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never aim at anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your barrel down range.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it.   

When setting up a target to shoot at or going to the shooting range keep these things in mind as there are things to consider when shooting at targets.

1.      Approaching target line – Follow local protocol and double check that the shooting session is complete and no one is handling a firearm (“cold range”).


2.      Variety of materials – soft-shell structure of reactive target may contain inner metal objects. Be sure at what you are shooting.

3.      Distance – relative position of the target is critical for controlling harmful ricochets. Pay attention to intermediary targets half-way.

4.      Back stop – this is a major concern, back stop means completely stopping of slugs! In physical terms, the bullet must come to zero energy. No over-penetration, no bouncing back.  

5.      Target protection – metal shield or rubber or military sand-bags must be tested and certified. Pay attention to deformed (including smashed and/or twisted) slugs or slow-flying projectiles. These do not smash or penetrate but tend to bounce back when hitting solid, rubber objects.

6.      Ammo type – a major factor for ricochets and level of cumulative damage (“wear & tear”) to targets.

7.      Low-lever light and night activities – light is your safety! When shooting in low-level lighting, make sure that the shooting line is marked clearly, and that all shooters are aware of it. Never head into targets line with no lights (“cold range” protocol is not enough)

8.      Lead and toxic dust/debris – accumulate in the range where rounds reach their terminal stop. Protect yourself when working with targets and replace broken or well-used parts/panels (use gloves and wash hands and face).

9.     Shooting in a group – make sure that you have a safety briefing to everyone before shooting commence.

To further increase the safety at your range consider using a system that allows you to know where you hit in real time so that you can eliminate or at least reduce the amount of time you need to walk down range to check your hits. I would strongly suggest the Romtes SCT system. Check them out here.

*Reuven thank you for your invaluable input.