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 [email protected]


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