Incendiary Image of the Day: Don’t Shoot Tracers in Indoor Ranges

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Honestly, right now tracer ammo is the only stuff I can find that’s actually in stock for 5.56. But while it may be available, there’s a reason indoor ranges don’t appreciate it when you shoot it in their facilities. This Dallas range, as a local paper reports, was engulfed in a four alarm fire thanks to someone’s careless ammo choice (BTW, one “alarm” response is two engines, two ladder trucks, an ambulance, and the fire chief in my AO, and it took four times that to kill these flames). Be safe, and double check your ammo, mkay?

Image and story via Reddit.

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

54 Responses to Incendiary Image of the Day: Don’t Shoot Tracers in Indoor Ranges

  1. avatarjwm says:

    Now, that’s some funny shit right there. The indoor range I use most often, in Milpitas inspects your ammo before they assign you a lane.

    • avatarJMS says:

      Target Masters is pretty ghetto in a lot of ways. But… they do have a great rental gun selection. Every range I went to in CA inspected ammo. Magnet test, just looking at it and the box, etc. Unless you are known to them (go often, member, etc) and they trust you not to be retarded.

      BTW Jackson Arms in South San Francisco banned rifle calibers a couple years ago after somebody used a steel core .223 round and it went through their backstop and plinked around in the gunsmith’s office behind it. They used to have a specific rifle area with 5 or 6 lanes — well, they still do — but now you can’t shoot a rifle unless you purchase the ammo from them and they check to make sure you aren’t smuggling in other ammo. Haha… not that I blame them.

      I remember them clipping one of my surplus .303 rounds in half because it drew a magnet and I assured them it was not steel core, but just bi-metal jacket. They were surprised to find the wood inside of the round hahaha.

      • avatarMark N. says:

        What’s with the magnet test anyway? They don’t want the brass left behind contaminated with steel casings? It’d be just as easy to pass a magnet over the fired brass, like they d when cleaning up construction sites.

        • avatarJMS says:

          “What’s with the magnet test anyway? They don’t want the brass left behind contaminated with steel casings?”

          No, a magnet test on the bullet, not the case. They are making sure the actual projectile doesn’t have a steel core. Copper and lead do not attract a magnet.

          As for cases though, some ranges don’t allow steel cased ammo because they don’t want it mixed in with the brass they collect. But, you’re right, you can use a “magnet broom” to very easily separate those so it’s not a big deal. Some just ban steel cased ammo because it often has bi-metal jackets (much of the Russian stuff does) and they don’t want those hitting their backstop. Up to the range to decide these policies, of course, but it’s the steel core bullet itself that does serious damage to many types of backstops.

        • avatarUpstater says:

          Focking magnets, how do they work?

        • avatarMichael B. says:

          I’ll tell you this, I thought they banned Wolf and other ammo whose bullets had bi-metal jackets just because it was also steel cased and they didn’t want it getting mixed in with the brass. Then I shot Wolf 5.56 at a steel pepper popper at my friend’s outdoor range. The sparks it gave off were quite impressive, to say the least. Steel hitting steel, even if the bullet is soft steel with a copper wash, produces a lot of sparks.

          Imagine a bimetal bullet sparking off the steel backstop at an indoor range that has unburnt powder dust in the air and you now know why your range won’t let you use bimetal ammo.

      • avatarjwm says:

        When i’m shooting just pistols Target Masters is the most convient to home. And they always have ammo. At target masters prices, but it’s better than no ammo.

        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          JWM, we definitely have to meet up for some range time soon. I’m not a big fan of Target Masters (I’ll usually drive to Reed’s instead) but it IS right down the road from where I live…

      • avatarRob says:

        Jackson Arms doesn’t even allows .223 anymore.

        http://www.jacksonarms.com/

        Right there are the top of that link:

        “We will no longer allow high-powered rifles to be shot here beginning on Monday, June 18, 2012″

        Some A$$hole had to go any ruin it for the rest of us…

        You can’t even shoot rifle rounds there anymore…

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          Wouldn’t have my business anymore.

        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          Matt, I think you’re assuming that people in the Bay Area have more choices for places to shoot than they actually do. For many people on the SF end of the peninsula, Jackson Arms is one of the few reasonable choices for a range outing if they don’t have time or means to travel further.

          The indoor ranges I’ve visited in the Bay Area have been suitable for pistol and shotgun, but on the short side for anything other than point-defense rifle/carbine practice. If someone built a 100m indoor range with rifle lanes, I’d be thrilled, but as it is the indoor ranges we have aren’t really suited to rifle.

          Livermore/Pleasanton Rod & Gun has some of the nicest outdoor ranges I’ve ever seen, though. They could easily host the shooting events (especially shotgun) if the Bay Area ever won the bid for the Summer Olympics.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          You’re probably right. When it comes to ranges, at least indoor ones, Orlando has an embarrassment of riches. My three nearest ones are 7, 10, and 11 minutes from where I’m sitting, and I have easily another half dozen within 30 minutes drive-time.

          Outdoor ranges, on the other hand… I have 6 or so scattered around me like points on a compass, none of which are less than an hour away.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    Why would anyone actually use tracer ammo, even cold tracers, at an indoor (short distance) range?

  3. avatarRKflorida says:

    Whoever shot that ammo is the reason we have warning labels on everything. There is no limit to the stupidity of the public mind.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      I don’t know… How is a person automatically supposed to know that tracers cause fires? I knew this from my military experience (I’ve shot tracers on hot, dry ranges in Foot Hood, Fort Riley, Fort Sill, Fort Benning, Fort Bragg and Fort Polk, etc). The worst offenders were the tracers from .50 cals. But barring that, I’m not sure i would have known that. I certainly don’t think it is one of those things that is so obvious that you would “instinctively” know that without training or exposure.

      • avatar16V says:

        How would they not? I get that they may not understand the composition, nor the chemical reaction. I even understand that despite the fact that everyone and their dog has a smartphone, and ability to google anything, they didn’t look it up out of sloth and a desire to remain ignorant.

        But, what kind of sack of hammers doesn’t see that first tracer round flying through the sky and think “that’s gotta be burning”?

        • avatarDaveL says:

          I suppose some people are just terminally incurious. They see the tracer streak downrange and it literally never occurs to them to question why or how it lights up like it does.

          Of course, to me, that’s functionally the same thing as stupidity.

        • avatarDJ says:

          That would be an awesome “new guy” joke – send them for “tracer batteries”.

          That beats a box of grid squares any day of the week.

        • avatar16V says:

          DJ, Tracer batteries! That’s up there with blinker fluid and muffler bearings…

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          I always liked “a spool of gig line.”

  4. avatarlouis says:

    save your tracers for the propane and gas tanks when they come for your guns

  5. avatarLance says:

    More idiot like this hurt or cause more than anything!

  6. avatarChris from Iowa says:

    Ouch. Judging by that black smoke and the large number of responders, it was probably a crumbled rubber backstop that went up like a tire fire.

    Hope they had good insurance.

    • avatarjlottmc says:

      I live in the area, and that is exactly what is was. They have all kinds of security around that area right now also. Something about the guns for sale, and a coming fire sale. I didn’t like them going to use them, they were a bit rude when I went, but many people loved them. Just wish we could have a decent range around here.

  7. avatarJoshinGA says:

    This is truly an “incidiary” image of the day.

    But really, tracer rounds indoors? What good is that…

    • avatarWilliam says:

      It’s probably they loaded the magazine quite a while back, thinking they were going to shoot outdoors, and simply forgot they were in there. It’s not a mortal sin, merely forgetfulness. I have tracers in all my mags, but I nearly ever shoot indoors. This served as a valuable reminder. We learn very little that isn’t inspired by a FU.

    • avatarAmbulanceMonkee says:

      Beat me to it.

  8. avatarJSIII says:

    The Local Indoor Rifle Range I go to inspects ALL rifle ammo. No steel core, no tracers etc. Handgun ammo though is pretty much not inspected.

  9. avatarPatrick says:

    I’m guessing tracers burn hot. What was flammable that caught on fire? I’m curious as to how the fire spread.
    Does anyone know?

  10. avatarMy Name Is Bob says:

    Leave it to some shmuck…

  11. I didn’t even think you could shoot 5.56 at any indoor ranges.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      It all depends upon the backstop – and not using tracers. I’ve shot .223, 5.55, and 6.8 on several indoor ranges without any problems. Some indoor ranges “overbuild” their backstops to handle up to .50 BMG. That way, they have automatic protection against steel core ammo and other ballistic stupidity.

      • avatarBrock says:

        The indoor range I shoot at, Blythes in Valpo IN, as far as I know has no rules on caliber. I’ve never shot a long gun there but I know there policy states that 12 gauge slugs are acceptable but no scatter shot. Could they allow slugs in a 50′ range but no higher caliber rifles? Serious question.

        • avatarAccur81 says:

          Different backstops have different rules for a reason. If they are shredded rubber backstops, most of the absorbtion lies in minimum rubber depth, typically followed by a steel wall. Some ranges don’t like buckshot due to the airborne lead particulate matter and / or shredding of rubber pieces.

          I can’t speak to all backstops, but they are usually tested to a given maximum caliber. If that caliber is exceeded, ricochet and over-penetration issues can occur.

  12. avatarJesus says:

    I wouldn’t want to shoot at an indoor range anyway. Something about shooting at a building full of armed people seems like a bad idea.

    Now I do love to shoot in an indoor range….

    That was my smartassery for the day.

  13. avatarAnon in CT says:

    Same thing at a local range in Norwalk a couple of years ago, but the fire was not that big. Under new management – the shop and pistol range are open again. Rifle range is still under renovation, but when it does re-open I expect that they will be keeping a very close grip on ammo selection.

    I do recall some fun grass fires in Wainwright, Dundurn and Shiloh from 7.62 tracer. Still not as bad as burning down a couple of acres of pacific temperate rainforest due to errant paraflares (so glad I was not NCOIC on that one).

  14. avatarDonS says:

    Incendiary image of the day

    I see what you did there.

  15. avatareugene says:

    well this didn’t take long to make it to wikipedia…

  16. avatarMilsurp Collector says:

    My go to outdoor range has laminated pictures of all the 7.52x54R and 7.62×51 NATO rounds they don’t allow stapled to every bench to prevent this kind of crap from happening. It’s irritatingly impossible to ignore the photos, but they haven’t had a brush fire in three decades.

  17. avatarDamon says:

    i’ve shot tracers before, but never indoors(obviously?). i was gonna pick some up when they were the only thing availible but didn’t, now EVERYTHING is gone. wonder if we’ll have some good brush fires around here this summer from all those people buying that stuff up?

    i know one thing, next time i get tracers, they’re staying in their boxes until i’m ready to shoot, just to avoid mixups.

  18. avatarCasey T says:

    Seriously, how stupid do you have to be to think it’s a good idea to fire tracers indoors? Glowing bullets = fire hazard. I’d be interested to know if this happened from the first shot or if the genius shot several tracers prior to the fire?

  19. avatarJohn Rand says:

    They sell tracers all over, but they don’t tell you what they are. I’ve caught people at Gander Mountain grabbing a case of tracers, because they were new AR owners and saw 5.56 and thought “ammo is ammo”.

    I’m not a big fan of regulation on what people can or can’t buy.. but I do find it awkward how flippantly people can buy tracers without having any idea what the end result is. Heck, look at all the youtube videos of people shooting tracers off into the woods and laughing.

    I wish hunter safety and firearm safety classes would include a small blurb on ammo types. Maybe some do, I just haven’t run into any yet.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      California has a simple, straightforward solution to the problem tracers present in a state with a serious wildfire problem: they’re banned.

      I guess it kind of makes sense, in a “don’t use a lit match as a light source to see how much gas is left in the can” sort of way, but it’s just one more thing on the CA verboten-products list…

  20. avatarRoadrunner says:

    Your point applies outdoors too, especially in tinderbox locales such as much of the SW lately. Seems a pair of cousins started a mega forest fire a year or two back just by shooting into dry brush, and I don’t think tracers were involved.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Certain types of rocks generate spectacular sparks when hit with steel-core or steel-jacketed bullets. You’re right, it doesn’t even take tracers if the operator is a sufficiently high grade of idiot.

      • avatarRoadrunner says:

        I wanted to mention other funtastic ways to brighten an already sunny day, not that I’ve ever done them of course, but then I self-censored, lest any unstable soul attempt it and sustain injury.

        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          I have no room to judge. Yesterday I showed my oldest offspring how to use a can of WD40 and a micro torch to make an field-expedient mini-flamethrower. I may or may not have given him some tips regarding the use of the red spray tubes to more efficiently focus the flame.

          Followed by a stern admonition that such antics were not appropriate with any flammable materials or organisms in the danger zone, of course.

      • avatarAccur81 says:

        Yep. Good old M885 vs. rocks can start fires as well.

  21. avatarmblakely says:

    That was the range I went to growing up, shot my first full auto there, got my first chl there…tear. They have made so much money over the years, I am sure they will rebuild.

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