Category: AT Short Article

Weapon Clearing

How to Clean Your WeaponThere is no shortage of techniques for clearing a stoppage or malfunction; just trying to explain the difference between the two sets off a never ending debate. Unfortunately, those who have time to engage in never ending debates lose track of what is important. You’re fighting for your life. Whatever works is what is important.

Stoppages usually occur in the cycle of operation of the semiautomatic pistol or rifle, usually caused by a dirty, un-lubricated weapon, bad magazines (covered in a previous article) under powered ammunition, poor grip (including unlocking the wrist while shooting). There are other contributing factors, but these are the primary ones.

A malfunction relates to a mechanically broken weapon that usually cannot be fixed on short notice. I would like to deal with the stoppage techniques in this article.

First, prevention or at least steps we can take to prevent this from happening are important, but please keep in mind there are no guarantees. It is hard to believe that in 2010 the primary cause of stoppages is still dirty, un-lubricated firearms. With all the training and preaching about the importance of cleaning and maintaining our weapons systems many of our fellow officers continue to not take this seriously. A properly maintained and lubricated firearm following the manufacturer’s guidelines is as important to you and those that rely on you as understanding sound tactics and techniques to survive a firefight on the street.

Every time a firearm is taken apart, cleaned, lubricated, and put back together, you should perform a function check. Often at the beginning of a training class I will have the students unload, make the weapon safe and perform a function check. I am often surprised by the number of officers that have been “trained” and carrying the firearm for some time that still do not know how to properly perform a function check on their side arm or a shoulder mounted weapon they may be using. While specific firearms require specific manipulation for a weapon-specific function check, general guidelines for a function check will be covered in a later article.

Inspection of duty ammo as we load our magazines is as equally important. The primary objective is to keep our weapons at peak operational readiness so when we draw the firearm we are confident it will go BANG! (Preventative maintenance guide coming soon.)

So, let’s move on to some more terms such as slide forward, slide to the rear, primary stoppage, secondary stoppage, etc. Slide (or bolt on a semi-automatic rifle or shotgun) forward means that the slide or bolt is all the way forward in the normal locked (firing) position but the weapon did not go BANG! Slide (or bolt) to the rear means that the slide is locked to the rearward position. Primary stoppage means that when you pressed the trigger you heard or felt a hammer / striker fall. Secondary stoppage means that when you pressed he trigger you did not hear or feel a hammer / striker fall.

First, if you have to press the trigger and the weapon doesn’t go “BANG!”, your first immediate action is to MOVE!, preferably toward cover, but if none is available, remember that a moving target is harder to hit than a stationary one.

Reload:

If the indicators are:
(1) Slide or bolt locked to the rear, AND
(2) no hammer or striker fall, chances are that the weapon is empty and needs to be reloaded.
The fix is to reload the weapon and get back into the fight! Sounds simple enough, but how many times have you seen in training shooters; (a) catch an empty magazine, (b) place an empty magazine in a pocket, etc.? If you need to continue shooting, the most important thing is to get the fresh magazine into the weapon and chamber a round. The empty magazine is worthless!

Also, some shooters practice the method of pointing the muzzle of the semiautomatic pistol straight up and flipping it in their hand so the magazine well points out at a ninety degree angle. The theory is that you can see the opening of the magazine well out of your peripheral vision or “combat window” and are less likely to fumble a reload. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of this technique, as pointing the muzzle straight up on a semiautomatic pistol with the slide locked to the rear tells the whole world (including, possibly, your assailant(s)) that YOU’RE EMPTY. I’ve also seen shooters that get the steps wrong and flip the pistol to the ninety degree angle before pressing the magazine release, and then wonder why the magazine doesn’t fall out. (Sir Isaac Newton figured this out a few centuries ago.) I prefer to keep the muzzle pointed at the threat / threat area with the magazine well pointed down while executing the reload.

Primary Method of Stoppage Clearing:

If the indicators are:

How to Clean Your Weapon(1) Slide or bolt forward, AND
(2) hammer or striker fall, your primary method of immediate action is to:
(a) TAP and TUG on the magazine to make sure it is seated;
(b) RACK the slide or bolt,
(c) READY.

All of this should happen as you are moving and the weapon is still up, pointed toward to threat or threat area. With a semi-automatic pistol, a good “par time” for a tap, rack, ready is about 1.0 – 1.5 seconds. With a semiautomatic rifle, about 1.5 seconds. Dipping the muzzle toward the ground and staring at the weapon does nothing except alert your assailant(s) that you are out of the fight.

Secondary Method of Stoppage Clearing:

If the indicators are:
(1) Slide or bolt locked to the rear, AND
(2) no hammer or striker fall, AND
(3) When you press the magazine release, the magazine does not fall out of the weapon, you may have a failure to extract combined with a failure to feed, also known as a “double feed”. We refer to it as a “secondary stoppage”.

The traditional steps to correct this have been:

(a) LOCK the slide / bolt to the rear,
(b) RIP the magazine out,
(c) RACK the slide / bolt to clear the chamber, then
(d) TAP a new magazine into place,
(e) RACK the slide / bolt and
(f) READY.

That’s a lot of moving parts to memorize, and under low stress on the range we’ve seen a lot of shooters get the steps out of order, making the stoppage even worse.

We’ve simplified this “secondary method” into three steps that are more easily remembered under stress:

(a) UNLOAD the weapon, which usually means removing the
magazine, sometimes forcefully;
(b) CLEAR THE CHAMBER (I prefer a physical check with a fingertip
as opposed to a visual check, which assumes that you will have
sufficient light to see the chamber);
(c) RELOAD the weapon, preferably with a fresh magazine, as a faulty
magazine may have caused the stoppage in the first place.

To recap, the best way to minimize the need for stoppage clearing is to:

(a) Have your weapons clean and properly lubricated;
(b) Function test all of your magazines;
(c) Make certain that all of the cartridges in the magazines are
defect-free.

That being said, practice your stoppage drills. You can do them in any safe area that allows movement and has simulated cover. Make certain to remove all live rounds from the area and use only inert training cartridges.

Product Partnership

Action Target believes only the best of everything should be associated with all we do. One example of our continuous search for the best is our partnership with Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. After extensive review, we have aligned ourselves with Carey’s to use their heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in order to provide our indoor range customers with the safest air conditions in the world. Action Target feels it is important for our readers to know more about Carey’s and the integral role they play in the industry. They are not only another provider of air flow products, Carey’s has been an innovator and pioneer with their systems. This article provided by Carey’s below is a little insight into the company. After reading, it will be clear to see why Action Target recommends their systems for our indoor projects.

Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning has been developing, designing and installing successful Indoor Range projects for over 15 years. They have specialized their designs in the control of contaminants created by indoor ranges and are currently known as a National leader in the field. They have worked with the United States Navy to develop the current range ventilation standards as described in the Unified Force Criteria. Carey’s wrote the ventilation standards for Region #5 of the GSA, edited the standards for the United States Air Force as published in the ETL, and have been consultants for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Department of Homeland Security) and FBI. With that background, it is safe to say Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning is the leader in contained range ventilation and the Subject Matter Expert.

There are three purposes for properly ventilating indoor small arms ranges:

1.     Remove air-borne contaminates from human respiration created by the firing of a gun in an enclosed range. These include lead, other heavy metals and carbon monoxide. Left unaddressed, OSHA levels for safe operation are quickly surpassed.

2.     Maintain a negative range pressure to the surrounding areas of the building. This keeps contaminates created in the range from entering adjoining areas. Heavy metals such as lead that are allowed to enter into non-range spaces can cause levels above OSHA allowable limits for surface contaminations. These high levels are unsafe due to the chance of ingestion.

3.     Remove smoke from the range for proper vision of the targets.

The design, installation and commissioning of the range ventilation system can be the difference between an unsafe range and a range that meets the OSHA, EPA and NIOSH standards. The critical components are custom fabricated in Carey’s facility and are the summation of the lessons learned from the completion of hundreds of prior range ventilation projects.

AT Partners with Carey'sSpecifically, the radial air diffusers and plenums are custom built and have been tested to provide laminar air flow at the firing line after proper commissioning. “Laminar” flow is a steady, even airflow required to safely clear contaminate from the respiratory zone of the users of the range. These special diffusers are not available from a standard diffuser supplier. The control system and programming uses standard parts from Johnson Control, but the programming of the equipment is critical. The programming is done by an experienced programmer who has worked on all of the ranges that Carey’s has completed. It is also critical to have the control system installed and tested to automatically shut down if unsafe conditions are detected. This will protect both the occupants of the range and the adjoining areas.

The on site supervision provided by Carey’s Heating & Air Conditioning is necessary to ensure guaranteed results in meeting these standards. If the project does not have the proper oversight, it can result in unsatisfactory results and finger pointing. Unlike a standard ventilation project where the system is installed and the air test and balancer sets the design air flow at each system outlet, a range ventilation system is designed for proper air flow at the firing line that is ten to fifteen feet from the distribution point. It must be the designer’s responsibility. An installing contractor can only install the project as shown on the drawings and control the air flow to the distribution device.

Due to the potential of over exposure to carbon monoxide, lead and other heavy metals on the range as well as the potential to contaminate adjoining areas with surface contaminates, the only way to guarantee performance is to have the system installation and design managed by someone with the experience to see potential problems with the installation. The site reviews also look at the building construction to identify potential problems such as a breach in the range walls that could present problems for the end users.

Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning has completed hundreds of range ventilation projects at facilities that have met all of the required standards, including projects for the US Navy, Air Force, US Marshals, Police / Sheriff Departments and private / commercial ranges.

  • Pasadena Police Department – Pasadena, CA
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff Department – Franklin WI
  • Matteson Police Department – Matteson, IL
  • Lake Forest Police Department, Lake Forest, IL
  • Great Lakes Naval Base – Great Lakes, IL
  • Oak Creek Police Department, Oak Creek, IL
  • Greenfield Police Department, Greenfield, WI
  • Unites States Air Force Reserves – Milwaukee, WI
  • Council Bluffs Police Department – Council Bluffs, IO
  • Boulder Police Department – Boulder, CO
  • Coronado Naval Base – San Diego, CA
  • San Diego Naval Base – San Diego, CA
  • Bangor Submarine Base – Silverdale, WA
  • Annapolis Naval Academy – Annapolis, MD
  • Patuxcent River Naval Base – Patuxcent River, MD
  • Annapolis Naval Academy – Annapolis, MD
  • Quantico Marine Base – Quantico, VA
  • Little Creek Naval Base, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Dam Neck Seal Base, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Portsmouth Ship Yard, Portsmouth, VA
  • New Orleans Naval Air Station, New Orleans, LA
  • Northeast Texas Community College, Texas
  • Newport Naval Base, Newport, RI
  • Middletown Police Department, Langhorne, PA
  • Sherwood Police Department, Sherwood, OR
  • Aviano NATO Base, Aviano, Italy
  • Sigonella Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Sicily
  • Gibraltar Training Range, Gibraltar, Great Brittan
  • Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Pearl Harbor, HI
  • Federal Reserve Bank – St. Louis, MO
  • Eagleton Courthouse, St. Louis, MO
  • Kansas City Police Department, Kansas City, MO
  • Montgomery County Police Department, Conshohocken, PA

Management

The management team assigned to any range project are key personnel at Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. and will ensure its successful and professional completion within the parameters previously established.

The Carey’s team consists of the following:

  • Bill Provencher: President and CEO – oversees all aspects of project
  • Pat Tovey: Secretary Treasure and CFO – responsible all material acquisition, contracts and project coordination.
  • Jim Provencher: Vice President – responsible for all custom material fabrication and delivery.
  • Jim McKay: Control Manager – Designs, supervises the assembly and start up of the range control system. Commissions the systems.
  • Kristofer Williams: Engineer – Designs equipment and distribution system for the range ventilation.

The team of professionals that Carey’s brings to this project are among the most knowledgeable and complete authorities in the range ventilation field.

Responsiveness

Carey’s is the only range ventilation supplier that has a 24 hour, seven day per week response center that can support and troubleshoot the range ventilation system though the direct digital control system. Their level of commitment to ensuring that our range is fully operational and functioning is extraordinary. Roselle is confident that no other company in the industry is capable of providing this degree of service and maintenance.

Experience of Contractor Personnel

Carey’s personnel have 13 years of experience installing ranges. In addition to seasoned employees and industry leading partners, Carey’s has extensive sub-contractor relationships with all the disciplines of range construction. Carey’s success in hiring experienced, professional employees, partners and sub-contractors is evidenced by their track record in building some of the most advanced, complex, state-of-the-art firearms training facilities in the world.

Uniqueness

Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. has been an innovative force in range ventilation design for over 15 years.

If you would like more information on Carey’s products, indoor ranges, ventilation or have other questions, please contact the Territory Manager for your area.

Latest Projects in the Great Lakes Region

No matter how big or small, if you need a target, range, ventilation system or custom facility, Action Target has a solution. Starting with our portable steel targets, graduating to our Tactical Application Scenario Kit (TASK) for the ultimate in portable options to the designing and building of a more permanent solution with a member of our staff, we can help.

Holding numerous patents on the products we produce and working with some of the best partners, such as Carey’s for ventilation, Action Target will construct the finest range solution for your needs. We have built, maintained and updated ranges for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, all branches of the United States Military, professional / competitive organizations and various private / commercial entities.

We feel it is important to highlight some of our most recent projects and acknowledge those involved. Many times it is not an easy process, but whether building new or updating an existing facility, Action Target and our team of dedicated professionals will get the job done right. With that, we would like to announce the completion of two projects. Both of the following ranges were facilitated by Jason Snell, the Great Lakes Territory Manager, and the team he assembled.

AT Installs TCT for Dearorn PDFirst up is the renovation of Dearborn Police Departments (DPD) firing range. Located in the basement of Michigan’s DPD, this project took careful planning and execution. With the help of several dedicated companies, Action Target managed the removal of DPD’s existing bullet trap, modified the existing target systems, cleaned the range and installed two 16′ Total Containment Bullet Traps (TCT).

A special thanks goes to Mancom, Best Technology Systems, Inc., Truxell Electric, Arch Environmental Group, Dearborn PD Procurement, Dearborn PD Project Manager, Stephen White, Action Target Great Lakes Territory Manager, Jason Snell, Project Manager, Mark Ostebo, and many others for their hard work and a job well done!

Equipment provided and installed by Action Target includes the following:

  • (2) AR550 Steel Total Containment Bullet Traps
  • (1) Dust Collection Unit (DCU)

AT Provides Ranges and Equipment for Nashville PDCongratulations to Dearborn Police Department and all those involved!

The second project recently completed in the Great Lakes Region is the updated Metro Nashville Police Academy Outdoor Firing Range. Located in Tennessee at Nashville’s outdoor training facility, this project included the removal of all old targeting systems from two separate ranges and the installation of new Action Target equipment.

AT Installs Outdoor Fiiring RangeA special thanks goes to Officers Bob Allen and Greg Lee, City and State Officials, Metro Nashville Procurement, Action Target Great Lakes Territory Manager – Jason Snell, Action Target Project Manager – Brian Sanders, and many others for their hard work and a job well done!

Equipment provided and installed by Action Target includes the following:

Congratulations to Metro Nashville Police Academy and all those involved!

AT Installs Power 90 Turning Targets

AT Installed Track Runners for Nashville PD

If you are in the Great Lakes region and would like more information about any of our products or services, please contact the Territory Manager, Jason Snell.

801-377-8033 ext. 158
801-809-6966 cell
jasons@actiontarget.com

Action Target International

AT Build MATCH in GermanyDid you know that we are an international company? For years we have been increasing our presence abroad. Countries around the world have been increasing their police and military forces to parallel their growing populations. With more officers and law enforcement staff, countries are turning to Action Target to provide the very best training solutions. With our diverse line of range-related products, we have been fortunate enough to be selected to build some of the largest shooting facilities in the world. We have designed, manufactured and installed indoor, outdoor and M.A.T.C.H. (Modular Armored Tactical Combat House) ranges for our international friends and US military bases located on foreign soil.

Pictured above are structures we built in Germany that utilize M.A.T.C.H. technology. They are just one example of the course and scope of our international efforts.

Action Target Provides Innovative Training WorldwideAlong with our range and steel target technology, we have been sought for practical application training solutions as well. Action Target has been able to supply some of the best military and law enforcement trainers from the US to provide a comprehensive training program using our range equipment. Our ability to provide training on the equipment we manufacture and install continues to set us apart. We can provide this service with the purchase of our systems for a limited or extended time. If you do not have a range and/or would like to discuss having some specific coursework delivered to your personnel, we would like to discuss the options available with you. We have the capacity to deliver the entire spectrum of shooting-related coursework. Our capabilities including classroom and nomenclature discussions to static live fire, non-live-fire, force on force, close quarter combat, tactical live fire all the way to the pinnacle of tactical combat house live-fire training. Basically, if you have a firearm-related training need, whether it is for equipment, instruction or both, Action Target has a solution. If you would like to know more, please contact the Action Target representative for your area. Their information is below.

Europe and Africa:
Rod Wilkerson
+801-705-9146 office
+801-367-0726 mobile
rodney@actiontarget.com

Latin America:
Walter Roese
+801-705-9174 office
+801-787-7445 mobile
wroese@actiontarget.com

Middle East:
Jason Xochimitl
+801-705-9112 office
+801-376-2722 mobile
jxochimitl@actiontarget.com

Pacific Rim:
Steve Thomas
+801-396-1213 office
+801-602-0014 mobile
sthomas@actiontarget.com

If you are with the US Military and want to discuss range options in the US or abroad, please contact the military representative for your area. Their information is below.

Eastern United States, Europe, Middle East:
Alan Denmark
+801-705-9186 office
+801-995-2062 mobile
aland@actiontarget.com

Western United States and Pacific Rim:
Kelli Cutler
+801-705-9111 office
+801-319-1198 mobile
kellic@actiontarget.com

Whether you are looking for targets, targeting systems, range development, training or anything else, please let us know. Our international staff will be able to find a solution to your needs. Since we are always committed to service and producing the highest quality products, please provide any feedback you may have by clicking here.

Firearms Proficiency Skill Levels (Part Two)

Written by Benjamin Kurata

(Continued from last week…)The following are arbitrary levels and goals of shooting performance. I use the word arbitrary as I have chosen them with no other intent than to place a stake in the sand so that the shooter can think about where (s)he is and where (s)he wishes to go with his / her training. What follows can be applied to shooting paper targets on a square, flat range (SFR) up through diminished light force-on-force scenarios.

BEGINNER LEVEL:

Emphasis:

  • Basic skill development (consistency in shooting position, grip, sight picture, trigger manipulation, follow through);
  • Safe, correct gun handling skills.

Shooter Position:

  • Static, i.e.,
  • Modified Isosceles
  • Weaver
  • Chapman
  • Etc.

Conditions:

  • Bright, well lit.

Target(s):

  • Static, known distance from shooter, high contrast (bullseye, PPC, Q, etc).

Time:

  • Unlimited or generous.

Acceptable outcome or goal:

  • All shots impact upon designated target area (target face, scoring rings, qualification area, etc.). NO MISSES!

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL:

AT Firearms ProficiencyEmphasis:

  • Introduce / develop dynamic target / environment skills;
  • Introduce / develop dynamic decision making skills.
  • Safe, correct gun handling skills.

Shooter Position:

  • Static (see above) between 75% and 50% of the time (gradually decreasing);
  • Dynamic or moving between 25% and 50% of the time (gradually increasing).

Conditions:

  • Bright, well lit, 50% of the time;
  • Diminished light 25% of the time;
  • No light 25% of the time (requires auxiliary lighting source).

Target(s):

  • Static, 50%;
  • Moving, uniform rate, known distance, 50%;
  • Uniform appearance 50%;
  • Non-uniform appearance (requiring shoot / no shoot decision) 50%.

Time:

  • Set time limits, challenging but achievable.

Acceptable outcome or goal:

  • No misses;
  • No no-shoot targets hit.

ADVANCED LEVEL:

Emphasis:

  • Sound decision making skills (shoot / no shoot);
  • Sound use of environment (cover, concealment, light, darkness, movement);
  • Safe, correct gun handling skills.

Shooter Position:

  • Static 20% of the time (behind cover, prone);
  • Dynamic or moving 80% of the time.

Conditions:

  • 100% diminished or no light (requires auxiliary lighting source).

Target(s):

  • 100% humanoid threat / no threat / varying levels of threat unless skill development is indicated – then bullseye, Q, etc.
  • Static but reactive, 50% (fire until threat is gone);
  • Moving, non- uniform rate, unknown distance, 50%;
  • Non-uniform appearance 100%.

Time:

  • Tight, dependent upon scenario. Shoot / no shoot available for short period of time before disappearing.

Acceptable outcome or goal:

  • Sound decision making:
    • Shoot / no shoot;
    • Use of environment / movement;
  • No misses on threat targets;
    • All shots in vital area or threat down (reactive)
  • No no-shoot targets hit.

Now, your first reaction upon reading this may be; “Nobody shoots at the Advanced Level.” Two responses:

1. Yes, there are entire people that shoot at the Advanced Level consistently, both as individuals and as teams. I will not be so arrogant as to claim that I shoot at this level, but I have had the benefit of training with individuals and teams that do.

2. As trainers, if we do not expect / demand better performance of those we train, will they ever improve? Again, as humans, we rise or fall to the level of expectation. So, as trainers, part of our job is to keep introducing more challenging, more realistic, and MORE DIFFICULT problems for the operator(s) to solve.

(Author’s Note: I started this article in 2000, but shelved it because nobody in my organization at that time was interested in discussing proficiency. Recently, a nationally published writer called and asked us about proficiency levels and evaluation, so it might be a good time to visit this subject again.)

*Note: Action Target has recently been offering firearm training manuals for sale at our online store. We only charge the cost to produce and ship the item. There are no hidden fees. We believe that your safety is that important, so we elect not to capitalize on the manuals. To get your own hard copies of these training manuals, please click here.

Firearms Proficiency Skill Levels (Part One)

Written by Benjamin Kurata

Three Men Engaged in Firearms TrainingWhen we talk about using firearms against lethal force threats, there is only one real measure of proficiency and an endless number of pseudo measurements. I do not say that in a negative way, as pseudo measurements save a lot of wear and tear on our personnel. However, we have to remember not to substitute the pseudo measurements for the real measurement.

The only real measurement of firearms proficiency in the realm of engaging and stopping lethal force threats is this: Did the officer / operator win the fight, and the threat(s) to the officer / operator lose the fight? Sub measurements of proficiency that fall under this can include:

  • Number of rounds fired / hits on threat(s);
  • Number of rounds fired by threat(s) / hits on officer / operator;
  • Unintentional hits on non-involved bystanders;
  • Unintentional hits on property (cars, houses, storefronts, etc.)

Any other measurement is a pseudo measurement. Within this broad area of pseudo measurements, some come closer to simulating actual fighting conditions and some have very little to do with actual fighting conditions. These include:

  • Qualification courses;
  • “Tactical” courses of fire;
  • Formal competition;
  • Etc.

Action Target Firearm ProficiencyPlease note that I do not see any of the above as a negative. Any time you are pressing trigger and getting hits on target you are reinforcing fundamental skills, and that is a good thing.

In my opinion, the most accurate, predictive live fire activity that the officer / operator can engage in short of an actual gunfight is force-on-force scenarios using dye marking cartridges and converted service weapons. Here, the hit ratio is very close to the actual hit ratio in gun fights. However, force-on-force scenarios have to be carefully scripted and controlled or they quickly degenerate into very expensive paintball games. An integral part of a well scripted scenario includes specific behavioral performance measurements that the trainer can document while the scenario is in progress.

We are all creatures of (1) comfort, (2) habit. We tend to do what is comfortable to us and avoid what is uncomfortable. If we receive enough positive feedback while performing what is comfortable to us, it becomes ingrained or a habit.

The same is true with shooting. We tend to rise to our individual level of comfort and then rationalize our level of performance. (“That’s close / good enough.”) We choose and repeat goals that we know we can routinely achieve.

(Author’s Note: I started this article in 2000, but shelved it because nobody in my organization at that time was interested in discussing proficiency. Recently, a nationally published writer called and asked us about proficiency levels and evaluation, so it might be a good time to visit this subject again.)

(This article continues in next week’s newsletter)

*Note: Action Target has recently been offering firearm training manuals for sale at our online store. We only charge the cost to produce and ship the item. There are no hidden fees. We believe that your safety is that important, so we elect not to capitalize on the manuals. To get your own hard copies of these training manuals, please click here.

Eliminating Lead in Indoor Ranges (Part Two)

Written by Clark Vargas

(Continued from last week…)There are inherent legal problems training with non-carry ammunition. The weight of non-lead bullets, are on average 25% less than that of standard lead projectiles by caliber and therefore accuracy is reduced at the firearms effective distances (long distances). Pistol harmonics and point of aim, likewise, change and occur at the shorter distance. So if a different practice round is trained with, the arguments can always be raised that it is different than the carry ammunition and the legal argument is created.

Military doctrine has always required engaging the enemy with mass firepower at the maximum effective distance of the firearm (whoever puts the most steel down range wins). Police trainers’ doctrine should also do the same. But, even if you are practicing and not hitting to the same point of aim with the duty and practice ammo, the lighter, non-lead practice ammo won’t do.

A lead-free indoor shooting rangeTraining with firearms requires developing proficiency at the weapons tactical or practical longest distances. That must be learned first. Close in rapid tactical drills come in second. However, if perceived recoil is different between a 100-grain and 140-grain bullet, a legal argument is again created.

Non-lead practice ammunition has no military value for combat. Lead again is and remains because of its weight and position in the periodic table, the main component for small arms projectiles of choice.

In our [Clark Vargas & Associates] opinion, LEO’s need to practice and qualify with what the less expensive issue ammunition or be subject to lawsuit, especially after a “bad” shooting incident. From a cost stand point, why shoot more expensive copper frangible and then have to qualify with lead on the same range when what you end up doing is contaminating the existing copper dust deposits with lead and then you can’t recycle any of it?

A lead-free indoor shooting rangeThe big break in ammunition technology, with respect to LEO training and environmental concerns, has only been the development of the lead heavy metal free reliable primers. Air sampling conducted at live shoots, with various totally encapsulated projectiles and lead free primer products is reported to have consistently proven to totally eliminate breathable lead exposure at the firing line.

The problem with the acceptance of the non-lead primed ammunition for tactical use has been that the non-lead primers are less sensitive than those with lead styphnate primer and increases the chance of misfires occurring, due to no ignition. This problem is being worked on. We certainly do not want misfires happening in a shoot out. Another problem is that non-lead primers were and are hydroscopic and may not store well.

Blount, Remington and Winchester as well as others, continue development with new ways of manufacturing propellant charges with non-metallic and non-lead bullets. Blount, CCI Blazer’s appear to be setting the standards in this area of technology with their more reliable lead-free primers. Lead free primers have little effect on velocity and points of aim, thus maintaining weight and velocity consistent to that of standard lead primed current carry ammunition.

A lead-free indoor shooting rangeIf a department is unwilling or unable to implement the lead management practices that we have known of for 12 years now, then perhaps they should use non-lead “green ammunition”. It should be realized though that the use of green ammunition is only one of the many alternative Best Management Practices for shooting ranges. It is not, however, the panacea and their use will have unintended consequences. The problems with non-lead alternative projectiles go far beyond the cost of the round. There are the ballistic performance shortcomings as previously discussed and yet unknown health and environmental risks. We know the risks for lead and know how to handle them.

A fine point, but points to be considered by the industry are non-lead ammunition. It is available to the military and law enforcement but is illegal for the public to purchase or possess. Frangible copper ammunition is not designed for hunting and if used, a brush buster shot or a bad hit would result in only wounding and animal cruelty. Non-lead ammunition is not accurate enough for competitive target shooting.

We now believe that zinc ammunition will be removed from the market place shortly so we won’t discuss that further. However, the Army’s tungsten “green bullet” a more recent debacle is a perfect example of the unknown risks of proposed “wondermetals”. On paper the tungsten metal compound proposed for the Army’s “green bullet” program looked great and development went forward. When real-world fate and transport studies were done, it turned out that the tungsten compound created unintended consequences worse than lead. Soil pH dropped as much as 5 full points, resulting in negative impacts on vegetation and organisms in the environment, as well as having 100% cancer rates in test rats. Can you imagine what could have happened if implemented for existing military ranges? The use of the Army’s “green bullets” on an existing lead range would have decreased soil pH and INCREASED lead mobility in large sites. Clearly not the intended result!

A Man Shooting in a Lead-free RangeThe Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, FLETC, has committed to 16 million rounds per year and is “the driving force behind the development of lead alternative ammunition”, but FLETC also has also acknowledged that lead alternative ammunition technology is NOT acceptable for duty use; they express a desire and opinion that it will be someday. FLETC developed their lead abatement strategy because of citations by EPA prior to the EPA’s development of lead Best Management Practices (BMP’s) and an EPA action due to FLETC’s past problems managing lead.

We have come through the zinc experiments and now in light of the Army’s green bullet test results, if, any assertion that non-lead ammunition is comparable to lead ammunition remarks is just plain wrong.

Balancing firearms training requirements vs. environmental stewardship is the balancing process the range design engineer and owner have to achieve. Completely eliminating an environmental risk is not possible. Minimizing risk certainly is.

I suggest totally encapsulated lead projectiles, non-lead primed ammunition for our designs. I take the common sense approach to the minimization of lead impacts on humans and the environment, and adopting range BMP’s as follows:

  • Utilize totally enclosed jacketed ammunition
  • Utilize lead-free primers
  • Install proper ventilation to assure adequate air movement and pressure in the breathing space and HEPA filter the air to be breathed
  • Instituting Range Operational Rules only proper ammunition used, wash hands, etc.
  • Eliminating lead dust generation at the bullet trap by proper choice of traps.
  • Recycle whatever you use

Utilizing the above BMP’s will eliminate 100% of the lead health safety problem in the range, due to projectiles.

Clark Vargas is a professional engineer and President of a successful 23-year-old civil/environmental engineering firm and has designed more than 30 shooting ranges in Florida, New York, Virginia, Tennessee and Kansas.

C. Vargas & Associates Logo

(NOTE: Action Target has republished this article in its entirety with the permission of the author.  Ideas, comments, practices, recommendations, etc. are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of Action Target. Our line of indoor range products, which include our steel Total Containment and rubber traps, ventilation and dust collection meet and/or exceed all of Mr. Vargas’ recommendations/conclusions.)

If you have an article that you would like to see in our newsletter, please contact atnewsletter@actiontarget.com

If you are interested in talking to a Territory Representative about your existing range or to discuss designing/building one, please click here.

Eliminating Lead in Indoor Ranges (Part One)

Written by Clark Vargas

The significant source of particulate lead in an indoor range is the ammunition used. There are four ways lead is generated in the shooting range.

The first and worst, also because of particle size, is the primer that starts the powder ignition. It contains the chemical lead styphnate and other heavy metals that insure a proper and reliable ignition.

The second, and second worst, because of particle size, is the lead burn of the lead bullet tail of jacketed ammunition. The hot propelling gases result in atomization of molecular lead possibly the most dangerous because of great gas volumes if in haled because of range eddy currents.

The third is the lead particles spiting out of revolvers and barrel friction on all firearms. It results in varying size lead particles downrange of the firing line on the floor. The lead will be picked up by shoes and tracked elsewhere, where they may or may not be ingested.

The fourth method, and the one that generates up to 95% of the particulate lead, is the lead bullet collision with the so commonly used, “hard” 30° to 45° incline steel traps.

It is just not prudent any longer to simply design hard steel bullet traps unless “tracer ammunition” is going to be used for machine gun training.

Just by changing the projectile to totally encapsulated copper jacketed projectiles, it produces a 97% reduction in lead particulate when compared to using solid lead bullets. The use then of both lead-free primers and totally encapsulated projectiles results in airborne lead being totally, eliminated at the firing lines and breathing zone.

Military and law enforcement are the high consumers of ammunition and will still continue to utilizes jacketed bullets with lead primers for some time to come. The many calibers of ammunition used and trained with are, the 9mm, .38, .357, .45 calibers, 5.56mm and 7.62x51mm. 12ga slugs and double ought buck. Ammunition comes from a variety of manufacturers.

Although lead-primed, jacketed ammunition is the standard, it won’t be long before reliable non-lead primers become the new standard, along with totally encapsulated lead projectiles.

Hard bullet traps are the major reason, as much as 95% of for the unintended generation, of lead in dust and waste streams in firing ranges. Most existing bullet traps terminate the bullets energy with a metal to metal hard collision generating heat, lead slatter and fragments and dust.

Softer termination schemes such as the 12° to 17° dry or wet funnel type traps with deceleration chamber and/or swirl chamber or snails are much gentler and produce no dust.

There are three antiquated metal bullet traps most common and still in use today; the escalator type, the venetian blind type and a “pit and plate” type. Each of these type backstops has advantages and disadvantages, however the net results remain the same: hard impacting lead projectiles on hard steel, causes extreme fragmentation of the lead and production of lead dust. Gene Fabian reported in 1996 that a full 20% of the lead bullet weight shot downrange on hard steel backstops do not end up as large enough lead pieces that can be recycled. A full 20% of the lead turns to small fragments, powder and molecular lead not captured in the trap. It ends up as settled dust or in the bag house. Downrange contamination becomes the major reason that hazardous conditions have resulted in firing ranges. Unless, these steel bullet traps are frequently maintained and HEPA vacuumed, lead dust accumulates to the point that it becomes stirred each time the ventilation system is used. It has been observed that human overexposure in such cases can occur even in the absence of shooting.

The major improvement over the antiquated steel traps discussed above are the soft traps of 30° and less angle plate dry or wet funnel type bullet traps. The collision is a lot softer on projectiles since bullets impact the plates at a 12 to 17 degrees or less incline and slide into a swirl or deceleration chamber. Any dust that is produced can purportedly be vacuumed by an exhaust fan and directed to a filter chamber or washed into a water oil mixture.

Two problems can occur with the dry-funnel design. The first is, the shooting range is designed as a negative pressure room that can easily overcome the bullet traps aspiration fan capacity and may result in lead dust settling in the range room anyway.

The second problem that occurs is that over the life of the trap, lead smearing will occur even with jacketed and hollow point ammunition. When the range is finally closed, all the steel will have to be disposed of as hazardous waste or cleaned.

Because of the concern for lead dust generation at steel bullet traps, the bullet trap manufacturers have made efforts to do research and develop new traps. In 1989, Ron Coburn designed a funnel trap utilizing water and oil film on the impact plates to totally eliminate the dust generation from the projectiles impact on the steel impact plates. Although very effective in reducing downrange contamination, it is believed to increase long-term maintenance cost. Cost, due to the creation and the recovery and disposal of a hazardous water oil waste, increase in humidity and clogging of the recirculating system with paper bits. That has made it difficult for designers to fully accept this method as being the answer to bullet traps. However, it has promise aesthetically. Increased (oil/water) humidity in the range, we are told by users, makes the range seem slippery and paper pieces in the water that make it a past the screens stops flow and burns out the pumps.

Probably the closest to desirable to date of the soft traps that works best are the low volume shooting chopped rubber traps. These bullet traps capture projectiles intact and allow for full recovery without generating a mixed waste stream. The bullet trap is constructed on a concrete sloped floor or preferably with a steel support frame and a soft rubber sheet front, which allows all bullets to penetrate intact 4 to 6 inches into the matrix. The space created between the steel and rubber sheet is filled with pieces of recycled rubber tire sidewalls. Bullets pierce the front rubber sheet and then the square rubber pieces stop the bullet intact through friction by about 6” deep from the surface. The bullets and the rubber pieces are periodically extracted from the bottom through a slide gate fully intact, ready for recycling. The trap must be recycled monthly to preclude the hard armorizing packing of the rubber surfaced with lead. Once every 18 months or so, the rubber must be shoveled out and a complete sifting must be done. These traps can also catch fire so a fire retardant is added to eliminate that condition. If these traps, which are labor intensive, are not maintained they wouldn’t work as intended.

Tests performed on soft rubber traps reveal that there are no lead emissions generated at the trap; furthermore, the rubber pieces do not exhibit a hazardous characteristic for lead under the RCRA TCLP definition. The rubber material can be reused for the life of the trap and not result as a hazardous waste upon closure.

The choice of bullet trap also very much affects the ventilation design and cost. Rubber traps require two (2) stage filtration and steel backstops require three (3) stage filtration. Both require HEPA filtration as the last filter.

LEO’s need to train with their carry ammunition. In my opinion, round nose totally encapsulated ammunition introduced in the 1960’s or jacketed hollow point with no lead primers fit that bill, both at economic prices. They are fully equivalent, ballistically to any of the duty ammo. That is what I recommend in my designs.

Ammunition manufacturers have taken the initiative but perhaps sometimes in the wrong direction, at the behest of the Federal Government over the last 12 years, to research lead-free bullets and lead-free primers. “Green ammunition” is the result.

“Lead free bullets”, the “Green Ammunition” are the politically correct, all encompassing terminology applied that does not offer much definitive information on how to solve the problem. Green ammunition includes zinc ammunition, frangible copper ammunition, solid copper ammunition, soft nose zinc ammunition, jacketed wound zinc ammunition and jacketed tungsten ammunition, etc. Each provides alternatives for trap and ventilation design but does not eliminate the recycle problem and each has unintended consequences. Bullets manufactured out of non-lead ingredients appear to pose less of a risk to humans, when the ammunition also incorporates lead free primers, but pose equal or greater risk to the environment than the lead munitions.

None of the metals used for “green ammunition”, when out of place, are environmentally benign. For example sintered copper bullets the one “green bullet” out of the bunch, which still seems viable turns to fine powder upon impact with the trap or steel target. The fine copper now has to be collected and recycled in its entirety or environmental problems will result. Copper acts is a fungicide and is detrimental to marine organism larvae.

When zinc projectiles are used and are shot into existing lead deposits, the value of the lead deposit goes to zero since that deposit can no longer then be recycled. It must now be disposed of as hazardous waste. We also understand that shortly wound zinc projectiles will no longer be manufactured. How many recyclable lead deposits on ranges have been ruined and are now hazardous waste, because zinc bullets were used?

(This article continues in next week’s newsletter)

Clark Vargas is a professional engineer and President of a successful 23-year-old civil/environmental engineering firm and has designed more than 30 shooting ranges in Florida, New York, Virginia, Tennessee and Kansas. He also is President of the Florida Sport Shooting Association, the NRA’s official state association. He shoots conventional and international pistol competitively and has been invited to shoot for the U.S. Pistol Team try-outs. Mr. Vargas is Past President of the Gateway Rifle and Pistol Club, a 2,200-family member shooting club in Jacksonville, Florida, an endowment member of the NRA, and the NRA’s 1999 Achievement in Range Development Marlin R. Scarborough Award recipient.

(NOTE: Action Target has republished this article in its entirety with the permission of the author.  Ideas, comments, practices, recommendations, etc. are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of Action Target. Our line of indoor range products, which include our steel Total Containment and rubber traps, ventilation and dust collection meet and/or exceed all of Mr. Vargas’ recommendations/conclusions.)

Knoxville’s New Shoothouse

AT Provides Shoothouse for Knoxville Police Action Target would like to announce the newly completed Live-Fire Shoothouse for Knoxville Police Department, Tennessee! Located at Knoxville PD’s outdoor training facility, this project is the latest addition to what is already a very impressive training site, including an outdoor firing range, simulation rooms, and driving track.

A special thanks goes to Knoxville PD Sgt. Keith Debow, City and State Officials, Chris Rutledge at MBI Architects, Project Manager – Chet Carbaugh with Richardson Turner Construction, Action Target Great Lakes Territory Manager – Jason Snell, Action Target Project Manager – Mark Ostebo, and many others for a job will done!

Action Target Installs Shoothouse and CatwalkEquipment provided and installed by Action Target includes the following:

  • 1200 sq. ft., rifle-rated, live-fire Shoothouse
  • 2 Breach Doors
  • Portable Bullet Traps
  • Catwalk

Congratulations to Knoxville PD and all those involved!

If you are in the Great Lakes area, please contact the Territory Manager, Jason Snell, otherwise visit our contact page to find the territory manager for your area:

AT Contact Jason Snell with Map801-377-8033 ext. 158
801-809-6966 cell
jasons@actiontarget.com

Action Target on YouTube

Just a little over a year ago, we started seeing orders to our online store with comments related to a YouTube video about our steel targets. Such comments included, “I saw your target on the Nutnfancy Channel and I had to have one,” and, “You [PT Practice Stand] received a great review from Nutnfancy.” Since nobody here at Action Target had placed a video on YouTube, we investigated to find out who Nutnfancy was and what was being said about our target. The Nutnfancy Project (TNP) was what we discovered.

The first video about our  was a huge success. So, we thought it would be a great idea to invite TNP to our main office and manufacturing facility in Provo, Utah to show his viewers where and how the PT Practice Stand is cut, fabricated, packaged, inventoried and shipped. It was our pleasure to host TNP and the result of that visit was a 36 minute video and narrated tour of the entire production plant, which was also posted on YouTube. His video gives all viewers a great background on Action Target and reveals the inner workings of our manufacturing facility.

Here is some information about Nutnfancy:

Nutnfancy’s Profile (as of this writing):

  • Channel Views: 6,666,577
  • Total Upload Views: 39,839,145
  • Style: Educational
  • Joined: July 09, 2006
  • Subscribers: 82,834

Nutnfancy Channel

“Welcome to The Nutnfancy Project or TNP. I am an INDEPENDENT reviewer of “dangerous things” like knives, guns, tac gear, and other stuff I dig. I also review a variety of outdoor equipment. My focus is on high quality stuff that I like, that lasts, and delivers exceptional service for the price paid. I believe all gear should be systems based, integrating into a “Philosophy of Use” (POU) that has been planned by the user. I have provided several foundational videos that discuss these POUs with the gear. My primary charter at TNP is a consumer advocate for my valued subscribers and I steer them towards the good deals and good dealers. As TNP continues to grow, this commitment will not change… only the ways I can best achieve it.

“My reviews are based on my own varied experiences but admittedly I am not the end-all expert. My reviews are based in logic and experience but also my own preferences. This provides a rudder to TNP as I steer us through the maze of many gear options. I may miss stuff here and there but hopefully my vids show the well-reasoned logic and experience that form their foundation. I never rest with my own “systems” either; always striving for perfection when technology provides advancements. Also I’m always learning from my subscribers who are smart in their own gear applications.

About Me:

“Each video represents my views at the time it was made. I am always striving to improve the accuracy, entertainment value, fun level, and quality of my videos.

“Gear reviews are the basis of TNP. But along they way I show many outdoors adventures with the TNP Crew. I encourage defense of good people, our freedoms, making good memories with family and friends, investing your time wisely, and being responsible.

MY INTENDED AUDIENCE FOR TNP: Targeted towards Law Enforcement and Military, my reviews are also intended for responsible civilians too and I fully support the concept of an armed, free people. I also acknowledge and thank my audiences around the world that sadly do not enjoy our freedoms in the US.

WHO IS NUTNFANCY?: US Military, 19 yrs and counting. I keep these associations and the specifics vague for MANY valid reasons (death threats). But they are real and not made up as people have discovered.

THE NUTNFANCY MISSION: To have fun and to help good people around the world learn about quality gear and not get ripped off. I enjoy helping cops, pilots, soldiers, and good citizens everywhere navigate the bewildering array of offerings and disinformation about it all. I will help you zone in on the good stuff and the good suppliers. I also like to encourage responsible and wise use of these items in the defense of good people. I encourage political activity to preserve our freedoms. I’m not trying to be better than anyone else, act like my opinion is the best, be a poser, be Superman, save the world, invent the cure for cancer, or act like the expert of experts. I’m just doing my thing, sharing my takes, having fun, and keeping it real. My promise to my subscribers is to keep my critiques real, honest, and as accurate despite the hater, hyena, and brand myopic flak.

“THE ITEMS: The majority of items reviewed are NOT mine as I have several professional and retail sources for them.

DEATH THREATS: Yep these exist against me and my family (graphic ones)…punishment for TNP’s success I guess. I remain focused on the positive message of TNP and remain focused on serving my subscribers with cool adventures, quality information, and realness. I thank my TNPrs for the support against these unfounded criticisms and possessed critics that let Verilioness and myself move TNP forward!

“REVIEW REQUESTS: I get thousands of these but will only be able to do some of them. Some items are just hard to get and others I just don’t care for and it would just be a negative review. Also this is just a hobby for me (can you believe it?!) and as such I try to keep it fun..

“RESPONDING TO COMMENTS AND PMs: The demands of my real jobs and keeping the TNP going often prevent my replies to your messages. Most of my edited videos take 1 to 3 days to create. I do this in between my military, other job, friend, and family commitments. Moreover I am constantly engaged in my own gear projects which I usually share with you in video form. Yes I’m maxed out but I have a strong work ethic and will continue to produce hundreds of more videos full of adventure, fun, good times, and useful information. But answering the PMs sadly takes a backseat to this production priority. I strive now to answer more Channel Page Comments so others may benefit from the discussion. I will give video updates on the Project every quarter!

“THE FUTURE: I have several imitators on YouTube that use my exact reviewing style, gear mix, and verbiage as they try to duplicate TNP on their own YT Channel. That is flattering but I doubt anyone will ever duplicate the breadth, personality, and heart of TNP. Also TNP will grow bigger as time goes on and I will use that clout for you to get good gear at good prices. I am humbled by the popularity of TNP but it will never go to my head. I remained focused on the TNP mission of realness in gear assessments, fun, the preservation of liberty, and promoting and protecting the good things in life.

“YOUR SUPPORT: BIG THANKS for clicking on my advertisers which support the TNP. I thank them too for supporting us! That revenue goes to gear acquisition for reviews and helps preserve my independence. Thanks for your nice comments, the good ratings, slapping down the dummies for their stupid and sometimes hateful comments, and especially the subscriptions as this feedback encourages me to make more.

“FREEDOM: Patriots belong in the NRA. Please join and keep membership current.

“The Nutnfancy Way: “It’s not about following the crowd, but about creating the path that the crowd will follow.” -LJ Garcia ///TNP LLC”

For Nutnfancy’s Practice Target video, click here.

For Nutnfancy’s video of his visit to Action Target, click here.

Chicago’s Gun Ordinance

Action Target Suppots Second Ammendment FoundationRecently, Action Target joined the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) in filing a lawsuit in federal court against the City of Chicago’s new gun ordinance. The lawsuit asserts that the city is depriving its residents of their right to keep and bear arms by banning public gun ranges while at the same time requiring range training for handgun owners. Action Target’s decision to enter this lawsuit was given much consideration prior to taking action.

If you would like to read Action Target’s Press Release regarding this lawsuit, please visit our media page.

New Partnership with Hufcor, Inc.

As an industry leader in providing affordable, effective and relative training solutions, we have partnered with Hufcor, Inc. to offer their FlexTact movable wall training system with our other line of products. This system is currently for non-live fire training. Since non-live fire training can really be conducted anywhere, what is so great about this system? It’s simple.

The system can be completely be reconfigured within minutes. For example, in a matter of a few minutes, you can transform your office scenario to a warehouse then into a residential setting. If you need to serve a high risk warrant and want to realistically structure your breach training, the physical layout of the residence can be duplicated with the FlexTact system.

Hufcor, Inc. and Action Target have entered into an exclusive sales agent agreement to represent the FlexTact® moveable wall systems to markets throughout the world. FlexTact® training systems are only available from Action Target to the commercial, military and law enforcement communities. The FlexTact system compliments our core expertise in live fire ranges and shoot houses such as the Modular Armored Tactical Combat House (M.A.T.C.H.) live fire structure.

The FlexTact system employs the following:

  • Rugged 16 ga. welded steel frames resist impacts
  • High Pressure Laminate surfaces are easy to clean and resist impacts
  • Quickset bottom seals hold walls in place during exercises
  • Overhead architectural aluminum tracks allow panels to move smoothly and quickly into place
  • Side bulb seals allow panels to be configured quickly
  • Specially designed passdoors for entry exercises
  • Optional window inserts and glass walls panels for diversified training scenarios

“Our strength is our 25 year experience within the law enforcement and military firing range and shooter supply markets and the various sales channels that are present within these markets. We are not operable partition experts by any means. We understand the intricacies of our niche, not on how to install tracks and panel systems. By combining our companies’ reputations we truly have an unstoppable combination for selling reconfigurable simunitions shoot houses,” said Jerrod Kermath, with Action Target’s Office of Market Development.

For additional information on FlexTact, please visit our shoothouse page or contact your area’s Territory Manager by clicking here.