“Robert Liebkemann, 77, (above) was at the camp in a marsh near Delacroix over the weekend with two young relatives,” Louisiana’s sunherald.com reports. “Liebkemann and the boys had returned to the hunting camp, which [Plaquemines Parish sheriff’s Lt. Eric] Becnel said, after a morning hunt and the boys began shooting at targets with a .22 rifle while Liebkemann supervised.”

What’s not reported: what kind of targets the boys were shooting at. One can only surmise that they were metal or contained metal pieces.

Becnel said a bullet ricocheted off the target and hit Liebkemann in the upper chest.

Plaquemines and St. Bernard parish sheriff’s officials and the U.S. Coast Guard responded, Becnel said. Liebkemann was taken by Coast Guard helicopter to University Medical Center in New Orleans, where he was pronounced dead.

If you’re shooting at anything containing metal — iPads, washing machines, televisions, etc. — think again. At the very least maintain a large distance from the target, keep a tourniquet and bandages on hand and be trained and prepared to use them (which you should whenever you’re shooting).

Even purpose-built metal targets can create debilitating or deadly ricochets. (Proper steel targets are angled toward the ground to channel ricochets into the ground. Hanging targets are not.) When shooting steel, you’re well advised to shoot frangible ammo, like Sinterfire rounds.

Also be aware that rocks and any other hard object will fragment and send potentially harmful pieces back at the shooter. So be aware of your target, what’s beyond and what it’s made of.

23 Responses to Know Your Target And What’s Beyond It AND What It’s Made of: Guns for Beginners

  1. In that video, the pieces coming back at him would not cause any injury unless he was hit in the eye without eye wear.
    I had a 9mm bullet bounce back at me at about the same speed as if someone had underhand tossed it. I was shooting a reaction reseal ball target on the ground. The bullet hit the ground, hit a tree and landed about a foot out in front of me.

    • I will disagree with that assessment, based on an injury a friend suffered during a .22 LR caliber rifle plinking session. He was sitting at a bench-rest table, and a .22 LR ricochet came back, striking him in the leg, cutting through the denim jeans and inflicting a small cut on his shin (AFTER passing through the denim). If the bullet had not lost some energy passing through the denim, it could have penetrated even deeper.

      Just because it hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean it hasn’t ever happened, folks.

      I’ve also seen some serious bruises from large-caliber ricochets (.44s and .45s) at bowling pin matches, where the bullet glances off two different pins and heads back toward the firing line (we called it the “Two-bumper bank-shot). If the edge of the bullet had flattened enough to become sharp, any of those could have resulted in a serious cut.

      Back in the late 70s (IIRC), a local range used a stack of old tires placed over a post as a target-hanging backer. People saw and/or were struck by so many ricochets (usually pistol bullets) that they dug-up and replaced the tire stacks with plywood after less than a year.

      • So you are using a different event to counter my assessment of what took place in the above video and what happened to me. Did I imply that a ricochet can’t be harmful or even lethal? I didn’t mean to, and if I did, I apologize. I just think the above video is the poorest example of the dangers of ricochet. How about use the famous keg shooting video from the TTAG oft hated FPS Russia? How about use the nearly viral video of the 200 yard 50 caliber ricochet that knocked the shooter ear muffs off? That’s all I was saying.

  2. That’s pretty crazy it came back with that much force.
    In my stupider high school days I used to shoot at an old industrial door for a target with a .22lr and received many a ricochet in the chest and legs. My jeans and flannel were enough to protect me.
    I’d never do that now and smack anyone I saw doing it today but still that must have been some kind of freak ricochet to kill that guy.

  3. I learned this lesson when I was like 10. I was shooting whatever I could find in the yard with my BB gun. One of the things I found was a metal pot. I shot it and the BB ricocheted right back and hit me on my eyebrow, just short of taking my eye out. From then on, I always considered the possibility of ricochet.

  4. Or the boys screwed up and shot him directly. Calling it a ricochet to deflect blame. In my experience shooting steel with a 22lr at 10 yards, the fragments rarely have enough velocity to do more than sting. It’s generally a danger to the eyes, but not your life.

    • Exactly what I’m thinking. Most .22lr is lead, and should fragment/splatter upon impact with a hard target. Any spalling or fragments should have minimal energy when they return to you. Now steel bb’s from an airgun are a different story, and could theoretically retain energy much better on a freak accident. I’ve been hit by whole 9mm and 45 jacketed ricochets while shooting at various venues, and honestly they didn’t even bruise. Obviously eye protection is critical, as it doesn’t take much to ruin your vision forever, however the chances of a 22 ricochet breaking your skin, let alone penetrating enough to kill seems practically impossible.

      I’m guessing one of the kids shot him, but the man didn’t want the kids to be legally impacted, so he claimed it was a ricochet. Or the kids lied to cover their own behinds. Many people regard .22’s as toys, so the kids could have been under the impression you could shoot someone as a prank like with an airsoft or bb gun. Kids learn by example, if you are careless with “little 22’s” they will be too…

  5. i smell a cover up. I have shot alot of steel with alot of high powered rifles and have had many ricochets. never has one been enough to break the skin. and i mean they hit me in the leg and arm. I do feel sorry for the family having lost someone though.

  6. I was at an outdoor range once and 2 middle eastern guys set up targets about 10 yards and began firing their jam o rrific Remington pistols at it and boy did they get an ear full especially from the good ol boys. They packed up and left shortly after.

  7. I was at an indoor range a couple years ago and felt something hit my chest.

    I looked down and it was a round…no fragments…from a .45. Still hot.

    Apparently the guy a couple booths over…and next to the wall…brought his girlfriend to show her how to shoot.
    So of course,since she wasn’t properly prepared, she flinched and it went to the ceiling deflector, then to the wall and then to my manly chest!

    I tell people that it was because my wife used too much starch in my shirt. But frankly, I was lucky.

    I brought her over to my booth and let her shoot my .22 pistol (Browning BuckMark, bull barrel) and steady down. She did fine. But then back at the boyfriend’s stall…BOOM! she took out the light that was BEHIND the ceiling deflector.

    Yeah…I packed up, left and let the range master know what was happening. Wasn’t about to tempt fate.

    • Boyfriends (not really a friend) who start their women out on big guns are big ass holes. I teach quite a few newbies to shoot and never start out with anything except a .22; in some cases .22 Short. If they progress, the caliber progresses. My own guns, own ammo, own time, no charge.

      • I don’t know. She could have shot the ceiling with a 22 as well.
        I would let them shoot one round of something larger than you think they will settle on. If you start them on a 22 then they may always hate anything more powerfull.
        I would start them dry firing then let them feel the power of a large caliber. Then when you show them how sweet shooting a 9mm is, they will agree. Keeps them out of the 380 zone and they won’t crave the 22 so much.

      • Boyfriends who don’t know what they are doing shouldn’t be teaching anyone how to shoot. I started both my wife and mother on my Sig P220 in .45ACP and they both did fine. In fact my mom put her first full magazine all in the black from 7 yds. Then again I know how to instruct and the weapon we were using is a full size pistol that does a good job taming the recoil. Someone who doesn’t adequately explain how to properly shoot a pistol is a much bigger problem in my opinion.

  8. Once had a 7.62 come back at me on an indoor rifle rated police range. It deformed into a quarter but left a softball size bruise on my shoulder.

  9. I’ve never had a straight bounce-back .22 bullet hit hard enough to more than humorous. OTOH, I saw a ricochet at about a 40-degree angle hit a car window and break it.

    So my guess is this guy was “supervising” from off to the side instead of being right next to the shooters.

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