Indoor Range Booth Hazards


Range Brass Bullet Casing Used Spent Shells
Hot brass cases, ejected from autoloading pistols, often strike the divider and then bounce back in the direction of the shooter.

Ft Collins, CO –-( “Booths” on most indoor pistol ranges are there to “organize” the range.

Particularly with commercial ranges, booths separate individual shooters and allow each to shoot his own exercises, irrespective of what other shooters are doing. There is also usually a table conveniently in front of each shooter, upon which he can place boxes of ammunition, etc

Some such range “dividers” are designed so that they will not permit penetration of typical handgun bullets, but most aren’t.

When running a Defensive Handgun Training Course on an indoor range, I move students forward, into the open area ahead of the booths, since we are all there as a group to do the same thing

That way, I can stand behind the “line” and clearly see all of them at once.

But, there is another hazard associated with shooting within a range “booth:”

Hot brass cases, ejected from autoloading pistols, often strike the divider and then bounce back in the direction of the shooter.

When shooting “in the open,” this happens far less frequently.

Of course, we require of all present suitable eye protection and baseball caps, and we encourage shooters to button shirts snugly around their necks. Yet, now and then a hot brass case still falls down the inside, front or back, of the shooter’s shirt.

In addressing this subject, we advise students that, when this takes place, to:

  • 1. Ignore it, and finish the drill as if nothing had happened
  • 2. Holster their pistol (or safely place it on the table in front of them) and then step back off the line and out of
    the booth

Either strategy is acceptable, depending upon the level of the training course.

The real danger is when a naive student (or range customer) immediately reaches down (forward or backward) in an attempt to get that hot case away from his skin, using the hand that still has the pistol in it!

In so doing, he will invariably point his pistol in multiple unsafe directions!

More than one “range accident” has happened as a result of that exact scenario.

Thus, students and range customers need to be cautioned about this, and of course must be wearing suitable safety equipment (safety glasses, baseball caps, hearing protection).

Booths may be sometimes necessary, as noted above, but I prefer (owing to the preceding) to get myself, and my students, out forward and away from them.


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  • 19 thoughts on “Indoor Range Booth Hazards

    1. with proper firearm handling experience it is not a problem for someone shooting a handgun to remove their off hand from the gun to dislodge a spent case. I do this all the time. I take my finger out of the trigger and remove the case with my off hand then return it to the gun and continue. You just have to remember the fundamentals of shooting.

    2. I was at an indoor range about a year ago shooting my .45 with a friend in the booth next to me. Shot seven times and doubled over in pain after the seventh shot. Backed away from the line holding my stomach feeling like I had been sucker punched. My friend( a retired Gunny) came over to see what had happened. I told him I felt I had been punched in the gut. I lifted my shirt and found a nice sideways imprint of a 45 slug on the left side of my stomach. I was nauseous, so I sat down while range personnel came out to see what what happened. In the meantime my friend went to my lane to see what hit me . He found 5 of the 7 rounds I had fired behind the table where I had been shooting. 5 ricochets.

      Range personnel said I must have hit the top of the target holder. My friend said, “Here’s his target …you tell me if you really think that’s what happened.” All seven shots were grouped together in the 10 ring. ” Well, that can be expected if you shoot a grouping that close together,” was their reply. “You created a divot and it just happened to come back on you”

      Really? Next day I had a bruise about 6 inches across extending to my right side. I was sore for 2 weeks. Is this really that common? ( By the way, I ain’t Annie Oakley).

      1. Most of us know, you can not fix stupid. Has any instructor or NRA put together a slow motion video, showing how brass casings, when ejected from a semi-auto pistol, has a mind of it’s own. Maybe I should make one and put it on YouTube as a class room teaching tool. Seems these Ladies have been watching to many cop programs on TV where the women all wear low-cut blouses. Who wears that crap in the real world? Read the comments, there’s your proof. While shooting at indoor ranges, I always position myself against the left side of the booth, then look where my casings will land after ejecting. I hand-load and my empty casings are valuable to me, especially after the time I spend making them better than new. One should always be aware where their casings are headed, shooting either indoor or outdoor. Safety First and Always.

    3. Almost anything can happen in a range. A friend was shooting at a well organized indoor range when he was hit in the face by a ricochet. A .44 lead bullet struck him in the cheek and made a hole the size of a half dollar. It entered below his eye and was embedded in his neck near his spine. Responding EMS commented between themselves he would not even make it to the hospital. I think they assumed Mike, his name, was unconscious. Although he could not talk because of the damage he was conscious and could hear but not respond. He told me he stayed conscious and kept trying to talk to them but nothing would come out nor could he even gesture. He describe it as being awake and paralyzed.

      The investigation revealed the man next to him had fired the 44, the bullet went into the pit and ricocheted back out. The impact area had not been screened recently and there were thousands of expended projectiles in the pit. The bullet must have struck others in the pit, ricocheted out and traveled back to the firing line to strike him.

      He was hospitalized of course and surgeries later he recovered albeit with a scar. After his recovery he returned home to his family and was back to work months later. I know he was lucky but the stars were in line that day and by the Grace of God he is with us today. I do not know if the .44 was allowed to be used in that range but regardless it was fired and this was the result.

      1. I am calling BS on the stated version of how this occurred. It did not strike bullets in the impact area and come back. It struck something very hard and resistant. And that does not describe fired bullets, even if they are clumped together.

    4. SOLUTION:
      “American Gun Chic” has (and sells) a “tactical bib”, much like tourists might wear to eat lobster or for toddlers and little kids to wear so they don’t drip and dribble food & drink all over their clothes. So she keeps a bib in with her gun range gear so she can dress however feminine as she wishes even at the range – and as in the video, for when she ends up at a range on a day she originally didn’t intend to go shooting – and can simply cover up to protect herself from hot brass as required. Seems to me that it would be a lot cooler to wear a bib than to put on an entire over-shirt on a hot / humid / sticky day.
      This link jumps directly to where she gets the bib out and explains why, just after having hot brass go down her shirt:

      Note to instructors and other individuals crazy enough to deal with the general public and firearms at the same time: Stock up on a few bibs for those inevitable low cut blouse wearing lady students – they will thank you for it. Besides, you could do a lot worse than buying a helpful bib or two for your students _and_ help to support an enterprising and lovely young lady who is clearly one of us in the process. 🙂

    5. Some question why this is an article. Proper attire is a must. But also lends itself to the Cooper Color Codes of Awareness. They apply to every situation. Take a moment to see where the person’s casings are going and adjust yourself. A few years ago, my brother and I were at Ft. Dix’s (NJ) range 14. Someone was in a lane shooting a muzzle loader with the powder bag to their side with the cover open. Someone shooting next to him, their casing fell in the bag and ignited the powder. Poof a lot of smoke and 3rd degree burns. Shirt melted to his body at points. The guy was in bad shape. All it would have taken was a few seconds to close the cover, place it on the table, etc. Basically was not mindful of what he was handling and his surrounding.

    6. I forgot to bring a hat to the range for some pre-qualifying practice. An ejected casing from my .45 lodge behind my glasses, just below my eye. I simply placed my firearm on the table, pointing down range, and lifted my glasses to release the casing. I had a severe second degree burn. I now keep a hat in my vehicle just for the range.

    7. Hot brass hazard? I’m a bit surprised that this merits an article. Wear a hat, glasses, and reasonably protective clothing, and I don’t see much of a problem. Women, don’t wear a blouse style that makes a good “brass catcher.” Also, of course, sandals aren’t protective, and even at an open range, hot brass can bounce in all kinds of interesting ways; not just yours, but that of the guy shooting three feet from your left ear. Anyway, yes, if hot brass is a problem for people, it can usually be combatted with pretty simple measures and “common sense.” Somewhat like combatting buzzing flies. And, it can’t be denied, if any shooter lets ANYTHING distract from his full, safe control of a deadly weapon, that is a very big problem.

    8. I heard that a father was shooting a .22 pistol at the range with his 14 year old son. The father had hot brass go down the back of his shirt and reached back with the hand that held the pistol – son was standing behind the father and was killed by one shot to the neck. Proper firearm handling is a MUST no matter where you are.

    9. To the cautions about wearing low cut or open neck shirts, let me add this; don’t wear a shirt with a pocket, unless the pocket has a flap that can be buttoned. I have had hot cases drop into an open pocket several times. There are two indoor ranges near my home. One has the dividers covered with egg crate foam, which absorbs the energy of the ejected cases, so that they fall to the floor. The other range has dividers made of clear Lexan or plexiglass. The cases bounce off the hard material and hit me in the face, even though I always wear a cap. I don’t go to the range with the pretty hard dividers, anymore.

    10. Indoor shooting is okay for novices learning the rudiments of firearms, but for real honing of marksmanship, as well as the most realistic lighting situation, there is nothing like outdoor shooting.

    11. Shot at the Palmetto State Armory (Columbia) last week. I was sandwiched in between two people shooting semi-auto’s. Their booths only deflect ejected rounds so high. Any empty reaching above that point rains down on you. I was shooting a revolver. The shooter on my left’s empties rained down on me over the booth wall and the shooter to my right, whatever the hell he was shooting, rained empty brass on me from the right. I would rather worry about my own brass bouncing off the walls than some AH on either or both sides of me raining brass down on me. Between them and the AH at the far left shooting a damn .300 Blackout, .458 Socom, or whatever, it was not an enjoyable session. They have three sections of range. Should keep the blaster people in one end and people with .44 Mag and smaller, elsewhere.

    12. There was a lady in the CCW class I was in wearing a low cut blouse/tee shirt and a hot case went into the blouse between her breasts. Not a surprise of course. She was jumping around waving her loaded and ready to fire 9mm all over the place. The instructor should have never let her into the class wearing that but after her actions endangering us all he did kick her out of the class. Luckily she somehow didn’t have her finger on the trigger and didn’t shoot anyone. Totally dumb and a preventable situation. Scared the rest of us for sure.

      1. I don’t teach. I’m certified, but I don’t because I would have a hard time dealing with stupid people.
        However, when I do help other people teach, or RSO, etc… part of my range kit usually includes some old work shirts or thrift store shirts in lg/xl sizes that I’ve washed, folded, and tossed into shopping bags. For EXACTLY this reason.
        I sometimes make women put on a “cover shirt” because I will NOT let a woman endanger my life or the lives of the other students because she wants to show off the girls.
        One time I took a friend and her husband shooting. The lady is very gifted in the chest area and she was wearing a low-cut top. I told her that I was going to the range with or without her, and if she wanted to come with me she would have to cover her cleavage. She thought I was being stupid, but I believe it was her very first shot that bounced hot brass off the side wall and landed right on her cover shirt and got stuck on the lip made by the shirt underneath. It didn’t burn her, but it ruined the shirt. And it was still hot enough through the clothes that she looked at me like I was a fortune teller.

        1. I need to remember to bring spare t-shirts with me anytime I go to the range with women (especially ones new to shooting). The last 3 times I’ve gone shooting with women, only 1 of the 3 (who, by chance were all ‘well-endowed’) was NOT wearing something low-cut.

          On the other 2 occasions, I asked them if they had any top that wasn’t low-cut in their vehicle, and explained why. 1 of them went and got one of her husband’s t-shirts out of their vehicle. The other said she didn’t have anything else, but she did have a scarf, which we ended up tying like a bib to cover the opening in the front of her low-cut t-shirt.

          After the range session, both these young women thanked me for the tip on where the hot casings bouncing off dividers might end up, as they had both felt more than one empty casing hit them where it would’ve gone down their low-cut tops.

    13. Had no idea this is so common, but glad it’s not just me and my weapon. On one range trip, I had not one, not two, but three hot casings in a row go down the back of my shirt. I went with option 1, and continued the drill until empty before fetching them. I now untuck at the range, if I’m not already doing so with my carry gun.

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