T-Dog posted this article in the FFZ, and it’s a sad reminder that we as shooters have an obligation to be sure that every round we fire lands where it is intended. King5.com has a story about a father’s day barbeque that was being harassed by the sounds of bullets flying overhead, and ended with the daughter of the guest of honor dying after a stray bullet hit her in the chest . . .
The Bellingham Herald reports her father called 911 Sunday to report bullets whizzing overhead. Then he called back to say his daughter had been hit.
Deputies traced the gunfire to the bank of the Nooksack River about a half mile away where five men were firing handguns and high-power rifles. Two of the men were arrested and accused of being felons in possession of a firearm. They did not know the victim.
That’s one of the fundamental rules of safe firearm handling: know your target’s foreground and background. And when you’re shooting somewhere other than an established range, know what is WAY beyond your target as well.
The military uses something called a “surface danger zone” to identify the area in which someone could be hurt by a stray bullet, which is generally 1/2 the maximum distance the round could theoretically travel (if at a 45 degree angle at launch and with no wind). If a range is open, that area is kept clear. For civilian ranges the SDZ can be much smaller, but there is always either a MASSIVE berm to catch any stray bullets or plenty of room behind the berm for a bullet to slow down and stop without hurting anyone.
Out in the woods, a SDZ isn’t always possible to map out. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time to find the biggest damn hill you can and put that at the end of your firing range.
You, as a shooter, are morally and legally responsible for the final resting place of every bullet you fire. And if you don’t take the time to identify a good backstop for your activities, it can end in tragedy and reflect poorly on every other gun owner in the United States. And that’s just downright irresponsible.