Range Owners: Backstop Considerations

Precision Gun Range is a public shooting range located just south of Spencer, IN. The range has been open since 2015 but recently there have been several news reports concerning the area past the backstop on the location’s 200 meter rifle range. Neighbors who are located almost a kilometer directly south of the range have been reporting incidences of bullets impacting within their locality, even in the sides of their houses. Some of these neighbors have taken to contacting police and community authorities to investigate whether or not the rounds are actually coming from Precision Gun Range. From a local Fox news station

Investigators traced the path of one bullet from the outside of the garage, through a divider and clear through another wall.

“It’s a dangerous safety issue,” said Wise. “Our ballistics man was shocked. He says it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when someone gets hurt.”

Investigators have also found bullet holes or bullets on the neighbors’ properties.

Ballistics professionals have flagged bullets throughout the tree line separating the gun range from the homes and beyond, on the residential side of the woods.

Precision staff would not talk on camera today, but did say they take safety seriously. They claim their investigation shows the bullet holes didn’t come from them and they’re likely not responsible.

Wise though, questions why the owners left a voicemail, offering to pay for damage to their house and trailer, if they didn’t feel they were responsible.

Since then, despite the gun range backing away from taking responsibility, they did first move the building closer to the targets.

Wise says the bullets kept coming anyway.

Then, Owen County Sheriff Leonard Hobbs says he recommended they shut the rifle range portion of the business down until the investigation was over.

Precision Gun Range has taken these allegations seriously. Initially, the range reduced the distance of the firing line closer to the backstop, thus reducing it to 100 meters instead of 200 meters. However this was back in February and despite the changes, rounds still kept impacting around the neighbor’s house. This is from their first declaration about the issue-

We recently received complaints from neighbors south of the range that they found bullet holes in buildings on their property and they believe those rounds came from our rifle range. PGR took these complaints seriously and thoroughly investigated them. We contracted with a ballistics expert to determine if these holes could have come from our range. The contractor completed an extensive investigation that included analysis of our firing line, review of our safety practices, the height of our berms, the height and depth of the woods south of our range and made a visit to our neighbor’s property. He completed a thorough analysis to determine if these rounds could have come from our range. He concluded, through his analysis of the impacts on the buildings and the trajectories of the common rifle calibers shot at our range, that it was highly unlikely that the rounds came from our range. He determined it was more likely the rounds came from hunters in the woods east of our property. Though his determination was that it was highly unlikely, we felt a need to consider a remedy that would ensure our neighbor’s safety. After careful consideration and out of an abundance of caution, we closed the rifle range last Monday, February 6, and brought back our ballistic expert. We sought his expertise to help us modify our rifle range in order to ensure that if a round cleared our berm that it would not impact our neighbor’s buildings. We determined that moving the rifle bays 50 yards closer to the berm would accomplish this goal. This modification was completed today. The rifle range now has a maximum distance of 100 yards. If a round clears our berm, it also clears our neighbor’s buildings.

And this is from their second declaration over the issue, later on this month-

we have been working to resolve reports from neighbors to our south that rounds fired from our rifle range have impacted on their property. We have treated these reports seriously and have taken measures to address their concerns. Most recently we decided to reduce the firing distance on the rifle range from 150 yards to 100 yards to ensure their safety. As this and other measures we have taken have not satisfied our neighbors, we are welcoming the assistance of Owen County and State law enforcement to assess our safety measures in order to achieve a resolution. The rifle range will be closed for an indefinite period as they assess our safety procedures. The 25 yard pistol range will be open for pistol shooting and can also accommodate .22 and 9mm rifles.

Myself living in Bloomington, I was formerly associated with Precision Gun Range but later on moved on to working with a different shooting range in the area. Problems with rounds missing the backstop were an issue early on in the range’s development because not 500 meters past the berm of the pistol range was another house. The pistol range is orientated in a different position, facing east towards Elliotsville and Bloomington. That problem was solved by confining only handguns and shotguns to the pistol range, with no rifle caliber small arms allowed.

Range location is absolutely critical to maintaining a safe environment, and it looks like Precision got the short end of the stick when it comes to this. Creating a range in rural parts of the country would solve problems like over shooting the backstop because rounds would just be impacting in the wilderness, but this can be detrimental to bringing customers and shooters because not many people from population centers would probably be interested in driving so far away just to go shooting. But locating the range in a relatively urban area brings along problems like this, with backstop issues. I think so far Precision is handling the issue quite well and is being responsive and responsible, but these issues can be cause for ranges getting shut down across the country.



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • glenn cheney

    BUILD THAT WALL.

    • RightWingDeathSquad1939

      Completely agree.
      >”Neighbors who are located almost a kilometer directly south of the range have been reporting incidences of bullets impacting within their locality”

      I hope law enforcement was checking their papers for citizenship if not they need to be physically removed.

      • Blake

        …I feel sorry for you. Are you really so indoctrinated that you feel the need to check the citizenship of people living in Spencer, IN? Really? Ignoring that stupidity for a moment, I would love to hear your highly logical and thoroughly sourced argument for exactly why we need to be evicting every alien the police come across.

        • RightWingDeathSquad1939

          >I would love to hear your highly logical and thoroughly sourced argument for exactly why we need to be evicting every alien the police come across.

          1 It’s the law.
          2 It’s hilarious.

          • DT

            Why do you hate the Constitution? It’s been serving us pretty good these last couple hundred years.

            You are welcome to check my papers, right after you try to take my guns. Good luck with that.

          • RightWingDeathSquad1939

            1 Stop using the President’s initials while posting that cuckolded nonsense.
            2 I’m not trying to take the firearms of any law abiding white citizen, but you clearly have yours pointed in the wrong direction.

          • DT

            I was DT long before this; he is welcome to change his initials if it bothers him.

            Good to hear that as a white citizen, you won’t be coming for my guns. But they most certainly are pointed in the right direction if any unamerican wannabe nazi POS is planning on demanding to see my papers and stomping on my 4th amendment rights or my neighbors’ constiutional rights. We take care of our own and I care a whole lot more about how true their aim is than how tan they are or where their mama was born.

          • RightWingDeathSquad1939

            >unamerican wannabe nazi POS

            Unamerican and nazi in the same sentence? That’s a laugh. Good luck protecting your rights when you’re up to your neck in “diversity”.

            >than how tan they are

            Yeah because that’s the ONLY difference between them and us. To them, we’re both nazis, there is no difference between you and I to the left. And yes I want to see their papers. You don’t have to show them but you can GTFO.

          • Lyman Hall

            My Grandfather’s job in the War was killing pukes like you.
            He left me his firearms, and his charter. Why don’t you just shoot yourself in a bunker somewhere and save us both the trouble?

          • RightWingDeathSquad1939

            >My Grandfather’s job in the War was killing pukes like you.

            And obviously your grandfather is the moral authority on this board and is absolutely right about everything. Even killing right wingers who spend their money in part, donating to the NRA which defends your gun rights.

            >He left me his firearms, and his charter. Why don’t you just shoot yourself in a bunker somewhere and save us both the trouble?

            I love how you’re threatening me with murder because i’m more republican than you are. God forbid we check the immigration status of non-whites. Aren’t there some leftist gun websites you could look at, and save everyone from your left-wing anti-nazi drivel.

          • DT

            “…because I’m more republican than you are.”

            oh, thank heaven. I was seriously starting to wonder if you were for real or just trolling. Now, I get it…. False flag all you want to try and make real conservatives look bad, it ain’t gonna work.

            The trick to make it more believable is to not go completely overboard with the parody. And certainly don’t show your hand as a gun grabber trying to make real Americans look bad by claiming to be republican

          • DT

            Hey, mine too! high five.

        • QuadGMoto

          I smell a troll. I’m referring to RWDS.

          • DT

            Yeah… i just figured that out, a little late.. but he went overboard below and gave himself away.

        • Paul Rain

          Lol. Why would he? They have good demographics.

  • Dave Parks

    Baffles: they’re not just for silencers any more.

  • JLR84

    This is one of the things I appreciate about living in hilly Western PA, is that ranges can more easily take advantage of natural hilly terrain for backstops. I’ll admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable with some of those 15ft tall built dirt mounds that pass as a backstop in some places. Especially the further the shooter is away from them.

    • raz-0

      Dirt stops things very, very well. Nothing is going through them that anyone is likely to be using at a range. The issue is what happens if things go over them. Baffles help some. The other problem at longer ranges is supporting anything other than the maxmimum distance. Then your problem can become people skipping bullets off the surface of the range.

      • JLR84

        My concern is not with the ability of dirt to absorb rounds. My concern is with their *height*.

  • JSIII

    An outdoor range I often visit actually has I guess what you could call baffles running parallel to the firing line, they begin about 7′ high and there are three layers, the intent is that if anything hits one of these things it will lose so much energy as to not pose much of a danger to anything beyond. it is basically 4×4 stands, with 1″ thick sheets of plywood on either side, reinforced with 2×4’s and filled with sand bags.

  • Capn Jack

    We had a problem like that shut down a local range. It was narrowed down to unknown individuals purposely firing over the berms, even after they had been extended.

    They were lucky to remain unknown……

    • Lyman Hall

      That’s what I was thinking. Install cameras down the firing line and see who is doing it deliberately.

  • QuadGMoto

    One of my local ranges was shut down for almost a year because a single person deliberately fired over the berm, hitting a truck on the other side of the hill. Part of that time was due to adding to the roof over the benches (which the perp did not use, which was a violation of the safety rules). The rest of that time was due to anti-gunners in government jerking them around until someone with the right authority realized those officials were violating the regulations.

    Even though the rifle range is now open again, it’s a lot harder to use because there must be an RO present to use the range. Since they’re all volunteers, there times the range is open is now inconsistent.

    In our case, the perp was identified and prosecuted. He should be glad he faced the legal system instead of some of the range members.

  • Tom Currie

    “Wise though, questions why the owners left a voicemail, offering to pay
    for damage to their house and trailer, if they didn’t feel they were
    responsible.” Probably for the same reason that stores frequently offer to pay for “customers” who “slip and fall” even when they know it’s a scam. It is much easier and cheaper to pay a few clowns than to fight a lawsuit that will be decided by twelve people who were too stupid to be able to think up an excuse to avoid jury duty. All joking aside, thousands of such claims are settled every year all across the country because businesses or their insurance companies decide that paying is cheaper than fighting even if they are sure they can win.

  • Guys I have deleted a number of comments that were way off topic and have nothing to do with the range discussion. Some border on racism which TFB will not tolerate no matter which race the comments are directed towards.
    If you want to be a part of the community then be civil and respectful of each others opinions. If you disagree say so but not with hatred. Try a reasonable adult conversation about it.

  • Dan

    “Creating a range in rural parts of the country would solve problems like over shooting the backstop because rounds would just be impacting in the wilderness.” Well that’s usually the case. Until someone with half a brain cell decides to start a small development down range of then gun range. Then all the new residents of said development complain about the noise and possibility of rounds hitting their new houses. End result a public use range shut down. Rural isn’t always rural forever.

  • jerry young

    Where I am we have actual backstops made of dirt that are at least 20 feet high and wide enough to contain all shooting, if someone is shooting over a backstop like ours they aren’t aiming at the targets, these baffles don’t sound too safe if rounds are getting through and being a public range there should be better protection from this sort of thing happening, our range is not open to the public you have to be a club member to shoot there, you would think there would be better safety measures at a public range.

  • Bradley

    Any time there is a gun range within several miles it seems that is the only place a shot could possibly come from. At the range near my house they shut down their longest rifle range because of a complaint like this. The backstop is cut away hillside about 40 ft tall. I looked on Google Earth, and the nearest house in that direction is two miles away over two wooded hills. It’s eastern ky just so you know what I mean by “hills.” The house is in a forested area with frequent hunting.

  • Bryan King

    Some people are simply terrible shots. I was at the 100 yard range recently and the guys down a couple lanes were hitting my target, being off by some 25 yards. I was listening to them call each others shots at 50 yards, all i heard was “3 feet high” and “I think you hit the ground”. The business model problem is that you need to be open to everyone, but liability pushes for limited access to only competent shooters. Hell, even reasonably experienced shooters can accidentally double fire when using a semi auto rifle at 200+ yards, causing the second round to possibly clear the backstop. Yes, I totally did that one time at 300 yards trying to shoot to trigger reset. The range owner was understandably upset. I stopped that whole trigger reset business with a high caliber semi-auto rifle.

    Bottom line, the shooter has to control where the bullet goes. Full stop.

  • DetroitMan

    The number one safety rule at my club is “Always hit the backstop.” I’m not joking. Anybody found in violation is brought before the Safety Committee and will likely have their range privileges revoked. If they are lucky, they can get them back by completing the new member safety course again. Otherwise they are out. Range operators need to take these issues seriously. There are a lot of bad shooters out there who are either careless or overestimate their own ability to control recoil.

    A couple of years ago we did have a problem with bullets escaping our property. An investigation determined that it was an issue with the steel plate racks on our pistol range. If struck before completely reset from a hit, a plate could deflect the bullet onto a trajectory that would clear the backstop. We re-engineered and rebuilt the plate racks. We also modified the range rules to disallow firing at a plate that was not completely reset. This incident just goes to show that Murphy’s Law is always at work. There was nothing inherently unsafe about the racks or the backstop. Both were very well designed and constructed. But the right combination of factors had the potential for disaster. It shows that ranges need to always be vigilant.

  • patrickkell

    Used to shoot at Fox Valley Range in Dundee Illinois as a kid, started at the age of 8 and it was a great range for 10 years till developers bought the property across the street from the range entrance and built SFH. Then the families claimed the range made too much noise. Really you buy a house next to a outdoor gun range and complain of noise. One more reason why I just hate people.

  • Sasquatch

    Well don’t let people shoot at target on the ground….. Problem solved.

  • Scouse

    Just outside Phoenix Arizona, is a great, big, range. Quite the neat backstop, it is a Mountain!

  • Bramos

    My local indoor range uses 20 tons of shredded tire piled against the backstop. It’s supposed to be rated for .50 BMG and sure enough they tried it. Worked just fine from what they said. Just no incendiary or steel core o_o

  • nunya buzness

    buffalo range shooting park in Illinois went through a simmilar issue a couple of years ago. They stood there ground and were exonerated. wouldn’t be suprised if this were a common tactic used to shut down ranges by “them”. Ed