Tag: dust collection unit

Action Target Builds its First Shooting Range in South America

The PCERJ range in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, marks a milestone for Action Target’s growing international program

PCERJ 3
Action Target’s subsidiaries Mancom and Law Enforcement Targets provided equipment and targets for the new PCERJ range.

PROVO, Utah – April 9, 2013 – Action Target recently installed a new shooting range in Brazil for the State Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro (PCERJ). This is the first range built by Action Target in South America and marks a milestone for the company as it continues to branch into international markets.

“Opening the doors to South America was a big step for us,” Action Target’s Director of International Business Development Adam White said. “I think the Brazilian government understands training facilities of this kind are essential for progressive, effective training, and we hope to continue to work with them in the future.”

The new range was purchased by the PCERJ in a push to increase training standards for state and local law enforcement, but will also support training for special operations units from other states around Brazil as well. It features an open air 11-lane shooting range with user-friendly target retrieval systems from Mancom and a nine-room shoot house facility. To ensure bullet containment, the new range also includes a steel funnel bullet trap and safety baffles which provide ballistic protection for the shooting area.

PCERJ 1
The range’s Total Containment Trap and safety baffles ensure that not one round will be able to escape.

“There is no roof on the range to allow for natural ventilation, but the safety baffles we installed also make sure no rounds have the chance to escape,” White said.

One aspect of the range that is especially important to the Brazilian government is its effect on the environment. The PCERJ range utilizes technology from Action Target to ensure lead dust and debris are safely contained and collected for recycling.

As a bullet strikes the armor steel plate of the Total Containment Trap (Action Target’s patented steel funnel bullet trap), it is forced through the small horizontal opening in the middle of the funnel.

Once it has passed through the opening, the bullet enters the deceleration chamber where it spins until it loses energy. The bullet then falls into a trough where it is funneled into one of many plastic canisters.

“The canister lead collection system is simple but extremely effective,” White said. “Once the canisters (which are just 5-gallon buckets) get about two-thirds of the way full, you can just pop it off, put a lid on it, and it’s ready to be recycled. None of the range personnel ever have to come in direct contact with the lead, and it’s easy to maintain.”

PCERJ 2
The Total Containment Trap uses a steel funnel design to safely capture fired rounds without introducing lead contamination into the environment.

The threat of lead dust created by the impact of the bullet is also eliminated through a Dust Collection Unit which uses negative pressure to pull dust and air-borne toxins toward the rear of the bullet trap where it enters a filtering system. This system removed 99.98% of lead and other materials before the air is released into the environment.

Brazilian officials are also grateful for the safety the new range will provide officers during training situations. The old facility often used wood as backstops for shooting drills and presented a significant ricochet danger for trainees.

The new range allows for nearly limitless use of tactical weapons from handguns to fully automatic rifles with complete containment. That assurance makes for a healthy environment where law enforcement trainers can push officers to the limit without putting them in harm’s way.

And Rio de Janeiro’s law enforcement officers will certainly be pushed to the limit as they run intensive tactical drills in the new nine-room Modular Armored Tactical Combat House (MATCH). Equipped with a catwalk and ballistic walls, law enforcement teams can now practice essential close quarter skills like room clearing and hallway navigation with live fire weapons while under close watch from above.

The PCERJ range’s grand opening will be held at the end of June when it becomes fully functional as a law enforcement training facility, but tours have been ongoing for those attending the LAAD Defence and Security International Exhibition held this week in Rio de Janeiro.

What is the Best Bullet Trap for my Range?

Choosing a bullet trap is an important decision that will directly impact a range’s profits. However, it is a decision that often seems overwhelming given the number of options available. To truly understand how important a bullet trap is to range operations and budget, it is helpful to think of the range as a large lead processor and to answer the following eight questions:

  1. Will the range be limited to handguns only, or will rifles be allowed?
  2. What other kinds of ammunition will be used?
  3. How many rounds will be fired each month? Each year?
  4. How do you plan to collect the lead from the trap?
  5. What about lead dust and other airborne particles?
  6. What kind of budget are you working with?
  7. Are there any size limitations?
  8. What about local fire codes and other restrictions?

Once these questions are answered, it becomes much easier to choose the optimal bullet trap that aligns with the range’s goals. Luckily for range owners, Action Target provides different bullet trap choices that cater to the many possible range uses. The two most common options for commercial range use are the Total Containment Trap (TCT) and the Rubber Berm Trap (RBT). Each has obvious benefits for any range, but the difference still depends on the use of each range and the answers to the above questions.

For example, if the range’s business plan calls for a small, low-use facility, then the Rubber Berm Trap is a great option. The RBT requires a smaller footprint than the Total Containment Trap and uses a smaller amount of floor space. It takes advantage of a hassle-free design that requires very little upkeep. It utilizes the practical and beneficial properties of rubber, while eliminating weaknesses and unnecessary elements of other designs. The RBT can also be serviced from the front, whereas the TCT must be serviced from the rear. The bottom line—The Rubber Berm Trap is cheaper to build and easier to maintain.

However, if the range has a high-volume, heavy-use facility, then the Rubber Berm Trap will quickly become a frustration and a large expense. In these types of ranges, the Total Containment Trap is the optimal choice.

AT Bullet Traps Used IndoorThe Total Containment Trap is the dominant industry standard for modern, heavy-duty, steel bullet traps. It is the superior choice for ranges where safety, reliability, simple maintenance, and ease of use are top priorities. The TCT can be used both indoors and outdoors in all types of law enforcement, military, and commercial shooting ranges. The TCT funnels fired rounds into a deceleration chamber, which increases safety for everyone on the range. Action Target’s patented Dust Collection Unit can be installed in the Total Containment Trap, protecting the range from lead dust contamination. The bottom line: Although more expensive than the Rubber Berm Trap, the Total Containment Trap is longer lasting and better for high-use ranges.

Before deciding on a trap, it is imperative to understand exactly what the requirements are to find the trap that supports the range goals. In today’s industry, too many owners are initially enticed by a low price only to be disappointed in the end due to the amount of unforeseen problems. For more information, Action Target has provided multiple whitepapers and a video to help choose the optimal bullet trap—visit the “Related Pages” section of our Bullet Traps page to access these resources.

Dust Collection Technology on the Range

Action Target has worked closely with Carey’s Heating and Cooling to provide industry-leading ventilation systems that improve the safety of ranges around the country. However, it is sometimes unclear as to why ventilation systems are needed in the first place. For this reason, this week’s Action Target Journal explains why such systems are essential in today’s ranges.

Every time a bullet impacts the plate in a steel bullet trap, there is a small amount of dust (bullet fragments) that is generated from the collision. However, with dust collection technology, as the bullet enters into the chamber of the bullet trap it takes in air with it. Because the chamber is a sealed environment, taking in this air creates an element within the high-pressure chamber. A dust collection system is required because of the air that is brought into the chamber. One of the technologies Action Target has developed to optimize dust collection is called Negative Pressure Technology. To better understand this concept, let’s look at an example.

Imagine a person holding a glass in their hand as if they were going to take a drink from it. Then, imagine the person placing a cotton ball on the closest part of the rim of the glass. It would be impossible for them to blow the cotton ball to the other side and have it land on the opposite edge.

Action Target's Total Containment Bulle TrapThis is the same concept that is taking place when a bullet travels into the bullet trap. In front of the bullet there is a large wall of air that is being pushed into the trap. When a supersonic crack sounds, what is actually happening is that the bullet is breaking the shockwaves of air. This same air is what is being pushed in the bullet trap. If there were no dust collector on the bullet trap, the overpressure of the air entering the trap would collect surrounding particles and lead dust and shoot it back onto the range. This is where the dust collector becomes essential. The dust collector enables a negative pressure to be established inside the bullet trap, and it functions at a rate that is high enough to overcome the bullets and air pressure entering the trap. Referring again to the example of the cotton ball and the glass, if there was no back on the glass it would be easy to push the cotton ball to the rear of the glass by blowing on it. This is possible because there is no overpressure in the glass.

Although many other systems have attempted to use Action Target’s patented negative pressure technology, none have succeeded. Action Target continues to hold the patents on the negative pressure systems utilized in many bullet trap chambers and this system continues to provide a pressure and cleaning method that allows the minute particles of lead to be picked up and safely gathered together for recycling.

To learn more about Action Target’s dust collection technology visit, http://www.actiontarget.com/indoor-shooting-products/ventilation-systems.

Range Project Spotlight: Junction City, KS Commercial Range

Action Target is widely known for constructing the toughest and most challenging shooting range projects in the world. Working together as a team allows us to overcome various obstacles we face as we design, build, and create ranges for our clients. For example, Action Target was approached by the Federal Reserve Bank to design and build a shooting range on the 17th floor of a major office building in Chicago, Illinois. When considering the noise, ventilation, and other items associated with a range, constructing a range in a skyscraper surrounded by offices was a challenge, but not an impossible task for Action Target. Through careful planning and execution, we created a .50 BMG rated shooting range complete with three lanes, stalls, and retrievers.

Action Target Builds New Commerical Range in Junction City, KSAction Target’s challenging builds don’t end there. When Chris Hart, Action Target Range Consultant of the South Central Territory, was approached with an equally challenging range project, he welcomed the opportunity by stating, “It’s not every day that you install a modern shooting range in a building from the 1800’s.”

Every commercial shooting range project requires two key elements to get it off the ground- passion and hard work. When it comes to Godfrey’s Indoor Range, Todd Godfrey had plenty of both in reserve when he embarked on this project. Todd, an officer with the Junction City Police Department, envisioned opening a commercial indoor shooting range to serve not only the citizens of Junction City and his fellow police officers, but also the soldiers stationed at neighboring Fort Riley.

In 2008, Todd toured Kansas City PD’s 30 lane tactical indoor range with ATI Midwest Range Consultant Chris Hart and Bill Provencher from Carey’s Heating and Air Conditioning, as the two companies worked together to build this range several years earlier. After viewing the range, Todd decided that Action Target was the partner to have. With a visitor’s pass from Action Target, Todd attended this year’s SHOT Show where he secured everything he needed to run his range business, from firearm distributors to inventory software (we are also happy to help all of our future range clients attend the SHOT Show with us).

Junction City, KS Commercial Range Build by ATIFor this commercial range, Todd secured some prime real estate in downtown Junction City–three vacant buildings totaling 20,000 sq-ft. on a main thoroughfare. However, this perfect location came with one catch–the building dates from the 1800’s. Building a range in a building this old would be challenging, but not impossible, for Action Target. Using ATI’s detailed range drawings, Todd began building out the structure to accept the modern range equipment. His company (yes, Todd has three jobs!), Godfrey Construction and Renovation, LLC, installed new ceiling trusses and concrete work. He also remodeled the building with a new store front that includes a luxurious lounge area for those waiting to shoot.

To accommodate the expected high volume of shooters, Todd chose Action Target’s Total Containment Trap with Dust Collection Unit, Rifle Rated Ceiling Baffles, Digital Smart Target Retrievers with SmartRange Master Control System and Level III clear Ballistic Glass Shooting Stalls. To enhance the realistic training environment, he connected the SmartRange system to his P/A system so he can broadcast sound effects such as gunfire, screaming, and sirens. The range also has police light bars to simulate felony vehicle stops. Carey’s provided a fully automated range ventilation system guaranteed to meet all OSHA and EPA regulations.

Junction City, KS Commercial Range Built by Action TargetGodfrey’s Indoor Range opened to the public on July 31, 2010 and was named Junction City’s 2010 Business of the Year within five months of opening. However, that wasn’t enough for Todd–he then got creative with his extra space and installed a state of the art 6,000 sq-ft. 3D archery range. To further service his range customers, Todd leases 4,000 sq-ft. of retail space to Quantico Tactical.

If you’re ever near exit 296 on I-70 west of Kansas City, do yourself a favor and stop by to meet Todd and his great staff and send a few rounds downrange while you’re there. Todd is currently available for consulting on range franchise opportunities and the construction of range facilities.

www.godfreysranges.com
Godfrey’s Shooting and Indoor Archery Ranges Facebook Page

Other recently completed projects include:

  • Smith & Wesson Range – Houlton, ME
  • Watts Bar Nuclear Range – TN
  • Triad Gun Source Range – NC
  • Denton County Sheriff’s Department Range – TX
  • Atlanta State Penitentiary Range – GA

Free Webinar – Choosing the Optimal Bullet Trap: The Total Containment Trap

Choosing a bullet trap is one of the most important aspects of designing and building a shooting range – an area you simply cannot afford to cut corners in. Unfortunately, it can quickly become overwhelming to determine the best, safest, most reliable, and most economical solution to fill your range’s needs. Luckily, Action Target is hosting a free 30-minute webinar entitled “Choosing the Optimal Bullet Trap: The Total Containment Trap” to help you understand what to consider when making a decision and why the Total Containment Trap is the most advanced, most effective, and safest bullet collection and disposal system available.

About the Webinar

During the course of the presentation, Addison Sovine, co-founder of Action Target, Inc. will:

  • Give critical information and tips for those considering a new bullet trap
  • Answer common concerns regarding bullet traps
  • Outline what to consider when building a new bullet trap or modifying their existing trap
  • Present an overview of the Action Target Total Containment Trap
  • Explain why Action Target is an invaluable partner in shooting range planning and construction

Event and Registration Details

When: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Time: 11:00-11:30 A.M. (MST)
Where: Online
Cost: FREE
Registration Link: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/464282150

Whether you are actively looking for a new bullet trap solution, or simply curious about what goes into making the bullet trap construction process a success, you can’t afford to miss this informative and entertaining webinar. →Register Now

Range Training – Orlando Police Department

A little over a year ago, the Orlando Police Departments Indoor Shooting range opened for firearms training. The range is a total of 55 lanes and is broken up into 3 separate training bays.

Bay #1 is a 20 lane, 50 yard long shooting distance that includes Tactical ceiling baffling, a High Power Rifle rated Total Containment Bullet Trap with the auger collection method, Dust Collection Unit, and Air Handling system. The primary targets used on this range are reactive Steel targets, incorporating a steel center mass target with either a round head or octagon head being raised for “shoot” or “don’t shoot” scenario’s.

AT Builds New Orlando Firing Range

Bay #2 is also a 20 lane, 50 yard long range that also the same baffles, bullet trap, etc. and the targetry features the inverted runner, swing down targets, and DTAPS decision making targets.

AT helps construct innovative range for Orlando PD

Bay #3 is a 15 lane, 100 yard Rifle Range. This has a “Fixed” firing line and has targets staggered at the 25 yard, 50 yard, 75 yard and 100 yard lines. (again, it has fixed baffles, and the TCT trap, air handling system, etc)

Orlando Police shot at indoor Range

All of these ranges are designed to allow police vehicles to enter the range and replicate traffic stops.

AT Constructs Indoor Shooting Range for Orlando

Eric Clapsaddle, the Orlando Police Department’s Rangemaster, designed several key ideas into the range, such as:

  • The ability to recreate a variety of “low light” conditions again, replicating “real life” gun fight situations.
  • The ability to create flexible barriers, walls, and cover with an insert-able panel for replicating “real life” scenario’s.

The Training that is provided to the Orlando Officers, is some of the closest we have seen to creating as real a situation as possible that the officers have faced or may face. The result of this type of training has been fantastic! Keep in mind the national average for “hits” in a gun fight 7 yards and closer is about 20%. With the training Orlando is doing, that number is closer to 80%, which is truly amazing, and life saving.

As you plan your range, think of ways you can recreate “real gun fights” that have happened in your area, or ones that may be common scenario’s you run into. Think of things like Traffic stops, multiple adversaries, working on scanning and avoiding tunnel vision, decision making targets (good guy / bad guy & shoot / no shoot), hostage drills, and so on. Try to allow the flexibility you need to be able to use these tools in training your officers.

The result will be a better protected community, better protected officers, and because the are better equipped, they will be better prepared.

Action Target thanks our first responders and all those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of others.

Stay Safe!

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

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.)