http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klxPyme4dqQ Pity the poor fourth rule of gun safety: Identify your target, and what is behind it. That’s gun guru Jeff Cooper’s terminology, and it lacks any of the clarity of gun safety’s Big Three. (All guns are always loaded; Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy; Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.) There’s got to be a better way to tell shooters to make sure it’s safe to shoot at their target ’cause there might be behind something behind it you don’t want to shoot. See what I mean?

This video shows us what it means to shoot a bullet that goes we know not where. A .22 can fly over a mile before it runs out of forward momentum. The cars and building behind the Redneck Rifle Range can’t be more than 1000 yards away from the ballistic bonfire. Do the math. emknapss and his friends sure didn’t. I’m not saying they couldn’t . . .

Is that an old refrigerator serving as a backstop? Even if the shooters manage to fire inside the box, they’d do well to remember that Ricochet isn’t just a failed Denzel Washington, John Lithgow and Ice T vehicle.

Of course, “proper” gun ranges have all that stray bullet stuff well under control. Or do they? Mlive.com, July 20:

Hanna was accidentally struck in the right thigh near the hip by a stray bullet from a shooting range while driving home from his job at New Era Foods Saturday afternoon, according to the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office.

khou.com, September 2:

“Make this range safe so it doesn’t hurt anybody else,” said Domin, who lives a mile away from the range in neighboring Rowlett. In June, he was the one who got hurt in his backyard. He was sitting on a tractor when a stray bullet hit him. Domin spent ten days in the hospital, and has a scar running down his stomach. The bullet is still lodged in his chest.

.krem.com. September 11

Nicholas Breske says he was looking down when he got the mysterious wound on his left middle finger. “I just heard something flying through the air real fast,” said Breske, According to a Snohomish County Sheriff’s report, that “something” may have been a bullet. Nicholas said the injury was minor, but whatever it was, it left an inch-long gash, and Nicholas’ mother is very upset. “It just never dawned on me, if he’s a half a mile away, that there would be a bullet that would stray from the gun range,” said Donna Breske.

You’d think that a gun range would get the fourth rule right, what with their economic survival depending on their ability to pay for liability insurance. The problem: people. Some people (with guns) reckon what they don’t see can’t hurt them. Even though it can kill someone else.

If you’re firing into a proper berm, your bullet will stop. That’s why God (or was it Walt Disney?) invented berms. If you’re not, you need to KNOW what’s behind your target. A LONG way behind your target.

If you’re plinking on land you know well, or shooting somewhere where you can actually see a mile or two (lucky if cold bastard), you’re G2G. A quick pre-shooting scan of the area (stopping to listen) wouldn’t kill you, but it might save someone else.

As for people who enjoy finding a new wilderness outpost and going for it, God (this time in the form of computer geeks) invented Google Earth. Take the time to check out a satellite image of your location to see what’s behind your target. Pausing between strings with your ear protection off wouldn’t go amiss either.

As always, avoid the peer pressure drop. The oft-expressed rule—“gun safety is everyone’s responsibility”—means it’s your responsibility. If your best buds are doing something dangerous with guns (note: I’m OK with ballistic pyrotechnics) say something. If they continue, opt out.

Guns eh? One bullet can save your life. One bullet can ruin someone’s whole day. Make sure it’s the same bullet.

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