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Posted: 5/16/2005 3:32:51 PM EST
The last couple shoots we have had spectators behind the firing line get with bullet fragements. In one incident a spectator a few feet behind the firing line was hit by a bullet fragent from a 5.56mm fired at a steel plate at 50M

Yesterday, a spectator 20 yards behind the firing line was hit by a bullet fragment from a 9mm FMJ that came back from the 45M steel gong.

Cars parked 25M behind the firing line were regularly hit by 7.62Nato bullet fragments that came back from the 80M steel gongs! (lift gates up if you want your rear widows!)

I'm thining at least 50M for handguns and 100M for rifles is needed? Does it depend on the type of steel? these plates stop anything smaller than 50BMG.
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 5:10:14 PM EST
At my club's range, only .22lr handguns can be shot at 25 yards on mild steel swinging targets and no closer! For .22lr rifles, minimum distance is 50 yards on the same mild steel swinging targets.
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 7:36:51 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/16/2005 7:38:59 PM EST by Rsteinb]
What type of steel plates are you talking about ? ? The plates my friends and I shoot at are mild steel 5/8" to 3/4" thick and about 6-8" squares we hang from chains at both 50yds and 100yds. We shoot on average 6-800 rounds into each plate(about half per side) before they have basically been hammer forged by the rounds and start to break up some. We have only had any frags come back at us if someone tries to shoot at less than 50yds, and only then if its .223 as its moving so fast. We have had no problems when shooting .308, or 762x39. I have seen problems with people shooting hardened steel plates, and even have a ding in the back of my truck from it. We do go through a few of the mild steel plates, but it saves us the problems with return frags.

Here are some pictures of a plates we have shot.
The first plate has about 2-300 rounds total both back and front. The second has 4-600 total both back and front.

the last plate has 600+ rounds of mostly .308 and is now retired....
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 7:48:04 PM EST
What's your deflection angle on the plates? If you set them up at a >20 degree angle downward, you can damn near be point blank and experience no debris.
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 8:36:45 PM EST
It all depends... I've had to pull a large hunk of lead out of my leg after shooting 12ga slugs at a gong at about 25m. Yes that was dum and I haven't done that again. However, I've also had 303 surpus bullets come back from a 200m gong and nearly hit me and I never suspected a hazard at that distance.
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 8:55:39 PM EST
gogns are too ehavy, they need ot move more to deflect the round.........

my range has plates that are hing in such a way that they are alwasy sloped so that th ebullets will eb deflected DOWN, but they still swing, soemwhat

I have killed the gongs before, firing 7.62 tok ammo that I did not know was steel cored...... glad they had the deflection set on them then, range was 50 meters for the steel targets
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 8:02:08 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/17/2005 8:03:01 AM EST by 00_buckshot]
I think your biggest problem is shooting into cratered plates. When a plate has craters in them they tend to send more lead back towards you. The only steel we shoot are IPSC plates, poppers and occasionally a duelling tree (with pistol ammo only). The only time I've been hit by returning lead is from the duelling tree.

Link Posted: 5/17/2005 8:04:59 AM EST
Once the plates are pitted, there is a much more chance of the bullet coming back.

Use a plate hard enough to not pit and pock. AND one that will not have penetration... or hazard stuff coming back at you!
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 8:09:28 AM EST
I haven't had issues with the plates I bought at 35yds and out. No one has ever complained of fragments or ricochets.

The plates I bought are AR500 rated but are treated for enhanced abrasion resistance.

I also believe that cratering leads to ricochets.

I have put them perpendicular to the ground with no movement. I have hung them as gongs. I have propped them up so they have an obtuse angle to the shooter. I have angled them downward to create an acute angle to the shooter.

Use harder plates.

I rarely place them inside 50yds though.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 8:31:00 AM EST
IPSA pistol rules say 7 meters... its a DQ for "unsafe gun handling" if you shoot closer. With this said, I have seen lots of incidents of low-velocity splatter hitting people, sometimes causing minor injuries (superficial cuts). Usually the risk of serious injury is small provided people are wearing eye protection (including spectators).

The actual amount of backsplash/ricochet, and thus the minimum safe distance, depends on several factors:

- The characteristics of the bullet being fired (shape, weight, construction).
- The characteristics of the target (surface topography, hardness, resistance to movement).
- The specifics of the impact (angle of incidence, impact velocity).

In general, you want to avoid shooting steel with very hard bullets; armor piercing/SS106, steel jacketed etc. = bad, soft lead or HP = good. The steel target wants to be hard and flat (no curvature or surface craters), mounted on a stand with some "give", perpendicular to the bullet trajectory in the horizontal axis and angled slightly downwards in the vertical axis so that the splatter is deflected into the ground.

Common sense and 100% use of safety glasses should see you through.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 8:48:56 AM EST
Wow, that is some splatter you are getting back. At most pistol matches I participate in, only the shooters get lead spray, not the audience.

Then again our audiences are pretty small.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 12:26:00 PM EST
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 12:40:02 PM EST
If your plates are pitted as badly as pictured above, you need body armor. Those plates are unserviceable and very unsafe.

Get some good plates with at least 15 degrees of angle to deflect downward. Take a good look at the hangers/holders. If the bullet hits the plate and then deflects off a bolt or the holder, or perhaps rocks, you will have a problem.

Copper jacketed bullets will be problematic, even with targets in good condition.

Make sure your range has plenty of liability insurance. You are going to need it.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 1:29:52 PM EST
I've shot plates up to point blank range with pistol rounds without problems. (not common, typically I'm back at least 5-7m) Almost always they are angled down a bit and fragments mostly go into the ground. I would not shoot anything at a cratered plate except at long range, and I dont shoot rifles at plates. I've been looking into frangible ammo for shooting plates with 5.56 and/or 7.62.

To reiterate, I don't think I would ever shoot at a cratered plate at less than 100m and probably then only with precautions. No problems at all here with pistol rounds and smooth plates in thousands of rounds. Most of the problems I would think are a combination of high-velocity rifle impacts (plate "ringing"/rebounding) and fragments deflecting from cratered surfaces. I wish frangible/limited range rifle ammo was cheaper and easier to find.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 9:44:11 AM EST

Originally Posted By MisterPX:
What's your deflection angle on the plates? If you set them up at a >20 degree angle downward, you can damn near be point blank and experience no debris.

I know a guy who has some mounted from rubber (conveyor belt material or whatever) that doesn't hang quite as sharply, but the plate will swing back some when hit. His plates are also proof against centerfire rifle ammo except AP and SS109.

And even if they get ONE crater in them they get retired. The craters encourage back splash.

We shoot at 25yds.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 1:55:55 PM EST
I saw a video from a outfit that makes tagets.. They were shooting a siloute plate. with a FA M60 at about 2 meters.. Did'nt look like he was gettign any splash back..
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 7:59:45 PM EST
To clear things up some, the plates I speak of are 500 Brinell, and the non hardened ones are only 1/4" so the bullet penetrates. I do not reccomend shooting thick non hardened plates ( especially if they're cratered) at near point blank ranges.
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