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 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)
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Ricochets At The Shooting Range

Yesterday I was at the indoor range when a shooter was injured by a ricochet bullet. It hit him just above his left eye and it drew a little bit of blood. He was wearing eye protection and hearing protection and was participating in a training class. It wasn't too serious and after 5 minutes of first aid (band aid) the victim was back shooting again. That got me to thinking. It might be time for me to upgrade my upgrade my eye protection.


 Ricochet Bullets From The Shooting Range Floor
 Ricochet Bullets From
The Shooting Range Floor


Better Eye Protection When Shooting

If the shooter would have been hit in the eye his shooting glasses would have/may have protected his eyes. But what would have happened if the shooter turned his head slightly and was hit in the eye from a side angle where the eyeglass frame is the only limited protection. He could have lost an eye.

I did some research on ricochets at gun ranges and found that they occur far more than I had realized. They are not uncommon at all and happen all the time. Most ricochet bullets by the time they hit you they have lost most of their speed but their impact on the body can cause a bruise or welts. The severity of the ricochet often depends on the caliber of the gun and the surface from which it bounces off of.

I currently wear prescription glasses with plastic shatterproof lenses. The offer little or no sideward protection and the glass portion does not does not sufficiently cover the portion above and below my eyes. I decided to purchase some side shields for my eye glasses.


What Is A Ricochet Bullet?

A ricochet is a rebound, bounce or skip off a surface, particularly in the case of a projectile. The possibility of ricochet is one of the reasons for the common firearms safety rule "Never shoot at a flat, hard surface."


Wadcutter richochet bullet picked up
from the range floor.
You can see the flat spot on the bullet where it bounced off something.



Are Ricochet Bullets Dangerous?

At indoor shooting ranges the danger from ricochet bullets is minimal. Ranges are designed to absorb or deflect ricochets away from the shooters. When a shooter at an indoor range does get hit by a ricochet it is usually not serious because most of the bullets speed and energy have been degraded. With proper eye and ear protection most serious injuries from ricochets can be avoided.

Shooting outside at hard surface objects and with high powered firearms is a different matter. The possibility of a dangerous ricochet increases significantly. 


Ricochet Bullet Missed Me By "That Much"

Ricochet bullet that missed me by three feet.
Ricochet bullet that missed me
by three feet.

The Ricochet That Missed

38 special ricochet bullet that hit my shooting stall and bounced a few feet in front of me. I actually saw it hit the stall and bounce. It had no power to it. The bullet was not even deformed. If it would have hit me it would not have hurt at all. Now I can tell people I almost got shot.


May 6, 2011 - I was reloading my Glock 19 at the indoor shooting range stall when I heard and saw a ricochet bullet hit the partition next to me and fall to the range floor a few feet in front of me. I must have been looking in that direction because I actually saw the bullet bounce off the partition and fall to the floor. I retrieved it as a souvenir. A close look at the ricochet showed no signs of deformation.

I looked around the shooting range and there were only a couple of other shooters there. I approached a couple of guys and found the source of the ricochet. One guy was shooting 38 special reloads that he bought from a local reloading supply company. He showed me the ammunition that he bought and the bullets were a perfect match to my ricochet. He then looked around the range floor near where he was shooting and found two more identical ricochet bullets. The range master found another one when she was sweeping the floor behind us. The shooter told me that something like this happened to him before and that the reloads were loaded with light loads. The bullets that he shot had enough energy to leave the barrel and hit the rubber back wall of the range and bounce forward without causing damage to the bullet.


Another Type Of Ricochet


Ricochet Nail


My friend and I shoot at adjacent stalls (about 6 feet of separation) at the range. White paper plates are pined onto thick rubber backstops using roofing nails.

My target was positioned at 35 feet. My friends target was also positioned at 35 feet. We compete by shooting at the targets as the run forward to us.

My friend shot first. One of his shots knocked one of his paper plates off his backstop as the target moved forward.

When it was my turn I shot at my targets as it ran forward.

When my target reached feet and was immediately in front of my I noticed something strange on one of my plates.

Instead of an expected bullet hole I found a nail stuck into my paper plate as if it appeared out of magic (see picture).

We pondered for a minute then agreed that one of my friends shots hit the roofing nail on one of his targets and sent it flying backwards and at an angle into my target. Quite a trick shot.

It also points out how bullet ricochets and shrapnel can be extremely dangerous.


Authored By Mike Coviello (Tanner)


Ask A Question/Tell Your Experience


Ricochets At The Shooting Range Comments & Questions


Sent: October 25, 2011
Subject: Ricochet From Accidental Shooting

My husband was demonstrating how to use his glock hand gun to a friend when it accidently went off.

When I came upstairs there was a bullet hole in the bathroom drywall 31 inches from the floor where it entered the wall...and 36 inches from the
carpeted floor in the bedroom where it exited the wall. He said he found the bullet lying on the carpet about 4 feet from the wall it exited from.

Later that month I found a bullet hole in my carpet about 90 inches from the exit wall... across from the bullet hole in the wall. When I asked my husband if he knew about the hole in the carpet he said he did not.

My question is: Is it likely that the bullet entered the wall at 31 inches from the floor and exited 36 inches from the floor and then, entered the carpet, bounced backwards and exited it from the same hole....landing on the carpet between the wall and the bullet hole??? It just seems unlikely to me.

Response - PS,

Sorry the delay in responding.

If the gun was fired in the bathroom (he was showing the gun in the bathroom?) and the exit hole in the bedroom wall was 5 inches higher than the entrance hole (bathroom side) then I would suspect the bullet may have ricocheted off of the far bedroom wall and bounced back and fell on the bedroom floor. Either that or it had just enough power to make it through the wall and land softly on the carpet. I don't see how it could have made a hole in the carpet. Are you sure it's a bullet hole in the carpet? You may want to inspect the far wall for a ricochet mark and pull up the carpet and inspect the flooring beneath it to look for additional clues.

I can't wrap my head around the bullet entering the carpet and bouncing back through the same hole from the scenario you described.

Good luck with your mystery.


Follow-Up Message

Ok, thank you for your input. After sending this email I went and re-inspected the exit wall (in the bedroom) again and found that actually a portion of the wall was repaired two inches below the entrance hole. So the exit portion is actually 29" and the entrance is at 31". In this case, would you think it is likely that the bullet went into the carpet and bounced out of the same hole it entered (in the carpet)....then landed on the carpet?

Response - PS,

Sorry, I don't know.

It's too hard to tell only going by words in a email. There are too many
factors involved and I don't have the expertise needed to render a valid



Subject: Ricochet Bullets
Sent: March 15, 2011

I wonder what it could have bounced off of? Isn't everything back there supposed to absorb bullets? Terry


Response - Terry

No idea. Maybe the metal frame that holds the backstop or a weak point in the back wall (where the rubber has been repeatedly hit and worn away).

Here's a picture of the ricochet bullets that I picked up from the range floor over the past year or so. I am doing some research and apparently they happen a lot more than I thought.