Tracer rounds burn down an indoor gun range.

It’s a fire we now know was ignited by a customer at the range, shooting a tracer round.
Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said as far as his department is concerned there is no criminal issue. “They were shot into, from my understanding, the rubber background, and they are extremely, extremely hot, and water won’t put them out…those tracer rounds will stay lit for some while, so it could have smoldered for 30 minutes, 15 minutes, I don’t know I don’t have a time frame on when his shot versus when the range master was notified,” Lunceford said.

Source: Tracer round ignites fire at Hampton indoor gun range | WJHL

Those rubber backstops were very popular about a decade ago. They are made of compressed shredded tires glued with epoxy and they were sold in cubes of different dimensions, but IIRC,  no less than 3 feet per side. I also remember that they were marketed to the home owner that may have some space in the basement and wanted to have his own range.

I never gave it a thought till now, but tire rubber fires are a bitch to stop, if it is even possible.  The Rhinehart tire dump in northern Virginia, caught fire in October of 1983 and took nine months to finally die. That should give you an idea how bad they are and why Firemen just let them burn on their own and just make sure it does not spread.

But people, fellow shooters: Is there somebody out there that do not understand the fucking fire danger that tracer rounds represent? That cute light you saw going downrange was not Pixie Dust but fucking incendiary chemicals designed not only to illuminate but to set the enemy’s shit on fire.

And you go shoot that crap inside a building because you needed to be top cool guy that day at the range.


6 Replies to “Tracer rounds burn down an indoor gun range.”

  1. Walking downrange during pin shoots and matches at an indoor range is often frightening. Pretty much every square inch of wall, celiing, and floor has a bullet mark on it.
    Either a lot of people don’t have the skill to put their shots in the marked bits of paper, or don’t care if they don’t.

  2. This is why my local outdoor range bans tracers and steel core bullets. We’re out in the desert and don’t want to start grass fires. Also steel core is hard on the fixed gongs. On the other hand there is a clear policy allowing full auto and other NFA items so there’s no fudd involved.

  3. Jan 2013, I was Range Instructor at DFW Gun Range and Training Center in Dallas. It was the height of the ammo shortage and new people were becoming shooters.

    About 3pm , shooter on lane one in the 25 yard bay complained she could not see her target clearly. Perhaps a Range Light was out. No. Her vision was being obscured by smoke. Our crumb rubber backstop was in fire. We began evacuating the building ; we had two classes ongoing as well as a packed house onthe Range and waiting in the lounge area. Most of our staff was exmilitary and the evacuation was accomplished in an orderly and strait forward fashion. Dallas Fire Department was called.

    Our range staff fought the fire as evacuation proceeded, emptying 5 fire extinguisher bottles. It didn’t work. Dallas Fire Department sent 6 units, University Park sent 1. The plume of smoke was visible for miles- initial reports suggested.plane had crashed at Dallas Love Field.
    The Range portion of the building burned to the ground. The roof collapsed and the concrete and brick walls fell into the parking lot.The fire burned until about 8pm.

    As we were standing the curb across the street watching the fire, a shooter who had been evacuated handed me a box of 7.62 NATO tracer. He had bought s new rifle and was given the Amos’s “the only thing we have that fits” his new rifle. The Box had 3 rounds remaining. He asked me:”did I cause this”? I told him that it was certainly a possibility.

    Lessons learned:

    1) DFW has a strict no tracer policy but it was self enforced. This new shooter had no real idea what tracer is. He was not a bad personal, merelyignorant. Range staff should Physically check ammunition.

    2) Crumb rubber backstops are less expensive but you must be totally prepared to prevent fires as well as prevent their spread. The new range we are building in Allen. , Texas uses only steel backstops and bullet deccellerators- /no rubber.. It costs about 60 percent more, but out clmpany thinks it’s worth it.

    3) having a calm experimced and in control staff to run an emergency evacuation is important
    Hope this little cautionary Tale is of use.

    Greg Taggart
    Director of Education and Training
    Texas Legends Gun zRange and Training Center, LLC
    Allen, Texas

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