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Question of the Day: What Was Your Worst Range Day?


TTAG commentator Brian G writes:

“So I left my woman behind in Indiana (and she is very unhappy with the fact, but had some family plans of her own) to visit my brother who is an active duty captain in the Army in TN. For months before this, I had been building up an Armalite AR10A4 from factory OD Green furniture. I put about a grand into the rifle, a Daniel Defense 7.62 Lite Rail, AR single base piece scope mount, scope, furniture, ammo, etc… I put about $120 into reloading supplies as he reloads .308, and needless to say was very very ready to head on down to Clarksville and sight in my scope, shoot about 200 rounds of 7.62×51 and just have a great time! That didnt happen, and here is why . . .

The bad luck started coming back from a gunsmith I got very good knowledge on the Colorado School of Trades (CST) from, as I have been very interested in going to CST for a year and that hunger really flared when building my AR with my own hands. On the way home from the gunsmith my brother and I got pulled over, with him driving, having not realized his paper copy proof of insurance had expired, he was handed a ticket for $535. Wowee!

Okay, so it has begun, we decide to split a six of Shock Top and call it a night at home. We then began the long process of reloading, nothing went wrong during reloading, I was new to it, but we cranked out about 50 rounds for the next day (he doesnt have a progressive loader and firmly believes he is more precise going one shell at a time).

Alright so we headed on down to the Montgomery County Shooting Complex, which was very very impressive. I was ready to sight in my AR, my brother had all of his range gear set up, nice Leopold spotting scope and his M4 all nice and laid out. I grabbed some sandbags and rested my rifle on it, ready for the fun in the sun.

My rifle failed to cycle every round, shooting Winchester white box 7.62 and Radway green milsurp, my action would only move about  1/8th of an inch.

The Radway actually locked up my rifle so tight I had to pop pins and physically take my bolt carrier group to the rear because my charging handle wouldnt cut it. So realizing something was wrong with my gas block, I unloaded, and hastily tried to remove my flash suppressor, marring the crap out of my flash suppressor with the only thing I had at my disposal, a Leatherman.

I didn’t get the F/S off, I did try though, because I had the hex wrench in my range box for my gas block, I knew I just needed to reseat the dang thing. But alas, I failed, and we packed up from the 100m range and headed to the handgun range.

Shooting at the handgun range, I had a brass casing from my Sig 229 bounce off the range stall-wall and get stuck between my eye protecting and my FOREHEAD. So then I had a melting hot brass casing fusing to my head, well I thought it was a bee stinging me and was swatting at it driving it harder into my face until I realized what I had just done and took my glasses off.

So now I have a wonderful 2nd degree burn and everyone around me since has been calling me Frankenburn because well, its gross.

Anyways, I decided to head home Memorial Day Monday after fixing my gas block troubleshooting it with a little aquarium tubing (my brother’s idea, muchos gracias mi amigo). Top that.”


  1. avatar JS III says:

    Brass case between the glasses and forehead is the worst.

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      Ball cap FTW.

      1. avatar brigo50 says:

        I never even thought of this!! It was so hot that day sweat was running down my eye prot. any suggestions on that? a sweatband? I wouldnt have this nasty burn if i was wearing a sweatband honestly!

        1. avatar Curzen says:

          get sweatbands in assorted neon colors for that authentic ’80s look

        2. avatar RIGHT! says:

          Hello Kitty Sweat Band

    2. avatar RightYouAreKen says:

      That’s bad. I’ve also had a brass case down down the back of my shirt and burn the hell out of my back between my shoulder blades. I think the scar will be permanent.

      My worst range day was maybe a tossup between that, and a day my hands were so shakey due to caffeine or low blood sugar that I was all over the paper. That was frustrating and demoralizing more than anything.

    3. avatar DJ says:

      January in FT Riley Kansas – M16 qualification range – the wind chill temp was 23 below, and the wind was unbelievable.

    4. avatar Felix says:

      I dunno. K31 brass ejected straight up and down the back of your shirt is pretty bad. Maybe that’s why it’s cool to wear a ball cap backwards. What I really need is a Sherlock deerstalker with fore-and-aft bills.

  2. avatar brigo50 says:

    If my brother looks bored in that picture playing on his iphone, you are correct in thinking that because lets face it, thats what he is doing. I was pretty mad my rifle didnt cycle (my own fault though), they didnt post the picture of my head wound, but its 40 s&w length and pretty nasty.

  3. avatar matt says:

    Being hit by ricocheting bird shot from a 12 gauge on two separate occasions (at Maxons) because the person next to me hit the target hanger at 10 feet. God I hate public ranges and Cook County.

  4. avatar Anthony Meruelo says:

    Like OP, the worst range days for me usually coincide with the first run on a new firearm. I had bought an AR at a gun show that was sold as a RRA at a deep discount and by now you’re probably guessing the lower receiver was the only part that was RRA and you’d be right. On the first range trip the gun was jamming every 4 or 5 rounds. FTE and a few hard malfunctions with the bolt stuck in the chamber. I got really skilled at malfunction clearing that day. I have since replaced the upper with a BCM and BCM BCG and it runs perfectly.

    My second worst range day was the day I picked up my new Arsenal SGL-21 from the FFL and took it straight to the range. Ends up that the muzzle brake was just a tad misaligned and the rounds would glance along the openning on its way out kind of like an end cap strike on a suppressor. Fragments of the jacket would spray to the sides but I didn’t notice what was happening until the guy to right said that a fragment flew across and knicked his daughter in the nose. I felt horrible after that and packed up and left. A few minutes with the dremel at home fixed the rifle right up but I always think of what could have happened if not everyone was wearing eye protection.

  5. avatar Nate says:

    Mine is not nearly as bad. I belong to a nice gun club that offers just about everything a shooter would want with their myriad of different ranges on a large 1000+ acre property. Only problem is its a 40 min drive. It had been a year since I’d been out there (moved away and came back). I went out to shoot in their baffled practical pistol pits which are the only place one can practice shooting on the move and faster than 1 round/sec shooting and not have to shoot an IDPA qualifier to use.

    When I got there I realized that I had left all 300 rounds of 9mm at home and only had less than a box in my range bag. Down but not out, I had brought my shotgun along as well to break it in and pattern my buckshot. After shooting a few tubes, the RSO came by and politely told me that they do not allow for shotguns to be shot in baffled pits. I asked him where it said that, and he said it was in the rules. (I had check the rules online before driving out there and there was no mention of it.) I asked him to show me, when he took me over to the posted rules and there was still no mention of it. According to him, and later was verified by email, that the rules had changes; however rules at the range and online were out of date.

    Range day officially ruined. Let my membership lapse the next year.

  6. avatar Jordan says:

    You guys are light weights. You need to shoot in CA. So many new shooters and gun store staff that is purely a liability. I would say its a toss up between these next two: having a round pass through my booth from a newbie next to me who thought it was a good time to check out the profile of the gun by turning it 90 degrees left with his finger on the trigger. The store employee who tried to clear a jammed AK bolt by banging the stock against the shooting bench with his hand on the charging handle, when it broke free he sliced his thumb on the selector switch and discharged a round about 3 inches from his forehead.

    It’s honestly pretty scary to shoot around here. My last trip to the range I saw a guy give his girl a handgun with a fully loaded mag and it was her first time shooting. As she fired the first round it startled her and she stumbled backwards out of the booth sweeping the entire line of shooters. When I told the store staff to instruct them to load singles until she is comfortable they told me there was nothing to worry about. On that very same trip the guy to my left was only a danger to himself. He had a 1911 with some Korean laser, every time he would discharge a round the laser would turn off. He would then sweep his support hand back and forth in front of the muzzle and laser to see if it was still on, he did this with his finger on the trigger and pointed down range. That sequence played out 4 different times. I kept waiting for him to lose a finger.

    1. avatar brigo50 says:

      Wow, even most of the hilljacks and first time female shooters there used better caution than that. To see someone wave their hand in front of their own loaded weapon with finger ready to go would be freaking terrifying.
      – I was actually impressed to see said female’s companions being very safe when explaining range safety and operation of actions (slide blow back, recoil, etc).
      Guess I’ll stay in Indiana and avoid Cali ranges?

    2. avatar Aaron says:

      I was at “The Gun Store” in LV some years back, well before machine gun shooting in Sin City became such a popular thing.
      There was a nice big bullet gouge in one of the stall partitions – clearly a round had come FROM downrange, toward the firing line.

  7. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    wow …after reading these posts maybe i should just STFU and not bitch….

  8. avatar ST says:

    Not a notable story , but its a tale worth sharing.

    Being a broke young lad in the military, I spent about $300 on a used Ruger SR9 blued model. After a 30 minute drive to the nearest range, I set up the targets, loaded the weapon with 5 shots, and fired the piece. Thankfully ammo makes noise when fired, because my target was untouched at 10 feet.

    I pulled out my bargain-basement Taurus 9mm and cranked off 5 rounds. All hit low and 2″ left of the bulls eye…so its not me. Back to the Ruger, another 17 rounds later and only one new hit at the top of the target. The best pattern I got out of that pistol was an 8″ set of 12 hits- out of 100 rounds fired.

    I was literally incensed with that abysmal performance. That’s the only time I was angry after leaving the range. 100 rounds and only 12 hit the damn target? I see why it wound up in the used gun case.

  9. avatar bontai Joe says:

    You guys have me beat, I’ve been close to shot at while on a range. My worst day was my one and only accidental discharge (to date). I was shooting bulls eye pistol in a semi-private indoor club range, and the shooter next to me liked my S&W model 41 and asked of he could try it. Sure I said, I had been watching him and he seemed to know what he was doing. He then handed me his 1911 to try in return. I loaed a fresh mag on the 1911 and hit the slide release and BOOM!. I was fortunate in that I had the gun pointed down range and the bullet hit the backstop ok. I removed the mag and cleared the gun and handed it back to him. He scolded me on not “knowing” that customized 1911s had to have the hammer held back with the thumb when using the slide release, because the sear had been filed to “target shooting” specs. Seems he thought himself to be a gunsmith as well. Not a catastrophy, but it ruined my day of shooting, because I don’t like it when guns go BOOM when my finger is off the trigger. Very unsettling for me.

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      “the sear had been filed to “slam-fire” specs.”
      Fixed. The sear is the last thing I look at when lightening the trigger pull on a 1911.

    2. avatar TTACer says:

      My worst day was my one and only accidental discharge (to date).

      Fixed. His negligence, not yours, but not an accident.

      1. avatar TTACer says:

        meant to replace “accidental” with “negligent” but the edit function did not work for me.

        1. avatar Bob says:

          I’m not so sure it was negligent in this case, you were following the 4 rules which is why no one and nothing got harmed.

  10. avatar Stacy says:

    Have to be a tossup between getting threatened with ejection for having an uncased (also unloaded, but that doesn’t matter) weapon behind the line, and the time I leaned my (also unloaded and with bolt removed) rifle against the booth wall only to have it topple into the next (and occupied) lane.

    That was all in my first 2-3 visits and would never happen today, but I agree n00bs can be scary. I was one…

  11. avatar Accur81 says:

    Hunter’s safety as a 14 year old. My father handed me a 3″ mag 12 gauge shell for his side by side, and told me to hold the stock exactly 6″ in front of my shoulder. I shot at the clay pigeon, missed by a mile, and got knocked on my ass. I had hopes that my dad and the instructor were the only ones who saw it, but I noticed a small crowd had already gathered after I began the process of picking myself up.

    Back in the day, people weren’t so damn sensitive as they are now.

    1. avatar M&P 9 L says:

      Your Dad sounds like a massive asshole. Bet he wouldve loved it if the stock came back and cracked your jaw

  12. avatar Roger says:

    Shooting surplus chinese 9mm ammo through a Taurus PT92, having a shell casing burst in the chamber and crack it. Same day catching shrapnel in my chest and shoulder from the bullet jackets when the jackass on the lane next to me shot the wall.

  13. avatar Mercutio says:

    That would be the first day I showed up at the local shooting club. Took a wrong turn and got bogged down in the sand. Had to beg a tow from the range master. “Hi, I’m a new member and I’m a putz.”

  14. avatar cmd says:

    The one and only time I shot a Desert Eagle in .50 AE. A guy came into the range with a size 1650 Pelican case full of guns and ammo. After a bit of chatting he offered me a chance the shoot the DE. With a full mag I’m aiming at the target and pull the trigger. My hands are a bit small to fit the gun comfortably but I manage not to have any real problems. The recoil is more than I thought but manageable. As the gun recoils and pitches up in my hands, the spent casing ejects and hits me in the forehead just above my eye pro. It stung a little bit but I went thought the mag and had some fun. When I was leaving the range I stopped at the rest room to wash my hands and noticed 4 semicircular marks on my forehead. The spent casings bounced off my forehead hard enough to break the skin. It was an experience to shoot a DE .50 AE but I learned it is too big a gun for me.

  15. avatar Van says:

    I’ve had the hot brass get behind my glasses and leave a burn. Worse than that was the day I got hit so hard in the side by a fragment that I thought it broke the skin. It turned out I just had a nasty welt.

  16. avatar Aharon says:

    My worst day was my best since I realized that day I am a simple wheel-gun man and not a semi-auto shooter, and to stop trying to master and feel comfortable with my Glock just because my friends all owned one.

    1. avatar Brigo50 says:

      You know I’m not trying to flame war here but, I just could not get used to his HK p30 this weekend. I fed it about 50 rounds and went back to my Sig, just didn’t fit me right I guess? He was awful proud of it though, I guess if you spend that kind of money on one you need to be…

  17. avatar Darren says:

    Worst day is when I shot the ramrod out of my muzzleloader. Safety glasses saved me a black eye or worse from the scope. No damage to the gun either. But the ramrod, and my pride and ego were demolished.

  18. avatar John E> says:

    When I first started shooting I was at my employers indoor range. We would qualify on handgun, shotugun, and he even had a few full auto tommy guns to use. A friend brought in a AK-47 to try out. I managed to get off several rounds before something knocked me on my ass. Here, a round had gone down range, hit something hard, and come back hitting me in the shoulder, putting me on my backside. Fortunately for me, the round had pancaked so much in the process it only gave me a nice bruise.

  19. avatar Ben Eli says:

    I had a day a few months ago. I had multiple FTE and FTFs. One jame required a good 5 minutes to clear and I cut my finger open while clearing the jam. Later on needed to adjust my scope, and I was still pissed off from slicing my finger that I was either turning the knobs in the wrong direction or over correcting or something along those lines. I just got pissed early on and it ruined the rest of the day.

  20. avatar GS650G says:

    A split case jammed my AR10 so bad I had to use a ram rod down the barrel to free it. Which I didn’t have with me so I had to pack up and take my broke ass gun home with a brass in the chamber.

  21. avatar Accur81 says:

    Actually, I take my first one back.

    In July of 94, I was shooting the SAW at Camp Pendleton. I shot a partial 200 round belt, as had the recruits before me. I was doing well, right up until the barrel change. Not only was it damn hot outside, but so was the barrel. I had a hard time separating it from the gun via the handle, so I instinctively grabbed the scorching hot barrel with my support hand. The sizzle was audible through my hearing protection, as was the Drill Instructor’s gentle admonishment to never touch the barrel of a machine gun. In so doing, I lost skin off of my hand and my ass!

    1. avatar Sig says:

      It’s mostly faded now, but I have a burn scar on my left forearm in the shape of the front sight post and “V” of an M-16.

  22. avatar Aaron says:

    Worst range day? When I want to go, but can’t…

    1. avatar SCS says:


  23. avatar Roadrunner says:

    Air Force small arms qualification came around once a year for me on the M-16. One of the last times I shot it, the crappy unit I got jammed nearly every other round. That would have been bad enough, but the front sight was so far off I was hitting the target of the guy next to me. Good for his score, lousy for mine. On the upside, I got to go back to the range for a requal, but it’s taken me till recently to even consider buying an AR-15, or anything resembling the pieces of junk they handed us in the Air Force. Hope things are better now.

  24. avatar CarlosT says:

    Haven’t had a horrible day yet. I had a truly bonehead day at the ammo store recently that led to a bit of bummer at the range recently, though. I bought 1000 rounds of .45 ACP without realizing it was aluminum cased. The range doesn’t allow firing aluminum cased ammo, so we had to pay range prices, which are kind of high.

    By the way, anyone know of a range near Seattle that allows aluminum cased ammo?

    1. avatar JuanCudz says:

      Being a bit british, can I ask what is wrong with aluminium-cased ammunition?

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        Nothing really, except that it can’t be reloaded. Why does that matter? A lot of ranges, including the ones around here, sell the brass they collect to reloaders as another revenue stream. Allowing aluminum-cased ammo would mean having to pick through all the spent brass to remove it. And you can’t use any short cuts like magnets or anything like that because aluminum is non-magnetic. So there would be an extra labor cost which would cut into their profit margins on reselling spent brass.

  25. avatar Philthegardner says:

    1983. Proudly bringing my first long gun to the local range- a Colt AR-15 with collapsible stock. I thought I looked pretty badass with my “black rifle” and 30 round mag. (I was still living in CA then when all this stuff was legal). Drinking in all the admiring comments from friends and acquaintances while setting up.

    Fired the first 5 shots and… get hit on the shoulder and/or glasses and/or in the collar with spent brass! I am a left and this was before AR’s came with those handy little brass deflectors. Even with the suppressed chortles, it was a heck of an embarrassment and the end of my AR experiment for the next 20 plus years.

    Got rid of that gun after only 20 rounds and have never owned another AR because of the bad memories.

    1. avatar Philthegardner says:

      Sorry, I meant to say that “I am a lefty…”

  26. avatar Rich says:

    While at the range as a young Air Force Security Specialist, doing my semi annual qualifying with the M-16, a hot shell went down the back of my shirt while we were firing from the prone position. Not thinking to well in my 18 year old mind, I jumped up and tried to “dance” the shell away from the skin on my back. In doing so, I still had my M-16 in my right hand and shot the concrete beside my right foot. Needless to say the range master wasn’t real thrilled with me and the base hospital had to spend about an hour picking pieces of shattered concrete on of my leg. All in all, probably the worst day at the range for me… unless you count the time that I ejected a hang fire (after the appropriate 5 Mississippi count) out of my .45, only to have it explode right beside my right wrist and take a big chunk of skin and flesh off with it. Okay, so two bad range days.

  27. I can think of two bad days at the range:

    Had a magazine jam in my 1911 on the last reload of a Practical Pistol match a couple of weeks back. By jam I mean we had to dismantle the gun & beat the damn’ magazine out from above.
    No points for me:-(
    Or there’s me at the same range during the same weekend last year, where I flipped a tin of my friend’s black powder caps off the bench into the dirt & then did the same to my spotting scope & broke the eyepiece mounting – good thing my friend is forgiving & Vortex have an unlimited warranty.

  28. avatar SDFreeman says:

    My worst and almost last one was, while checking my targets downrange I was the only one their and then having someone show up and start shooting while I’m down range WTF! Boy was I pissed, I was told I had not been seen yea right. Wearing a fluorescent orange sweatshirt I guess was not good enough. Like they say be sure of your target and what or who may be behind it.

  29. avatar Bob says:

    1) A guy just showed up to the range and must have thought we were still on cease fire (we just called hot right before he showed up no-one had shot yet but were darn close to starting) and he went straight out to hang targets. He was to the far right but as soon as I saw him I called cease fire.

    2) Brought my own steel targets, and some guy decides he will go ahead and just shoot at them without asking while I moved over to shoot paper.

  30. avatar RIGHT! says:

    Qualification Day: driving rain, shooting prone from a depression w/6″ of cold water, eye glasses covered in mud from said depression, steam rising from hot barrel and hot brass going straight into the neck of my shirt because I shoot LH and the rifle was an A1.
    Also I had a bone chip in my elbow.

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