Many users of bullet traps do not know what to expect from them. Under estimates and over estimates are common and both can prevent the best utilization of the bullet traps. When particles of lead are found on the floor of a new range, these questions always arise: “Is this trap safe? Is it installed properly? Is it an efficient trap? How close can we shoot? What safety precautions should be taken?”
With steel traps, most bullet particles found on the floor do not come from the bullet trap. The majority of lead particles found on the floor of a gallery range are created by bullets striking target carriers, target holders, and target transport systems. Even the shaving of lead by revolvers must not be overlooked as a source of particles. We often hear a range officer proudly proclaim that nothing whatsoever escapes from his trap. That can only be interpreted in one of two ways. Usually it means that he is satisfied that nothing dangerous escapes from his trap. The other interpretation is that the range receives so little use that he is not aware of the escaping particles. Unfortunately such remarks create an erroneous idea about bullet trap performance. When one expects 100% efficiency and discovers a piece of lead the size of a half-dollar at the firing line, alarm is understandable.
It is now possible to build a bullet trap so no lead particles can return towards the shooters from the bullet trap. Meggitt’s GranTrap™ is one such bullet trap. The trap is made from heavy steel support sheets which support the loose GranTex™, rubber particles about 1/2-3/4″ in size, and is covered by a thin gum rubber curtain on the top. This patented design allows all bullets to enter the soft trap surface and be totally contained in one piece in the soft rubber media. This means no bullet particles can breakup and return towards the shooters.
Range operators should be concerned with three (3) kinds of particles; backsplatter; ricochet; and “floor sliders”. The latter is also called “skidders”, “bounders”, “skippers”, plus various unprintable terms. The term “slider” is also applied to bullets that are fired into the walls, ceiling or floor and travel along these surfaces, leaving long streaks. In this discussion the term “slider” relates only to returning bullet particles. Backsplatter and ricochet particles travel under the initial energy imparted to the bullet. In contrast, floor sliders travel chiefly from gravitational energy. Except at very low velocity when a bullet hits an impenetrable object point blank, it is entirely broken up into particles that go off in a 360° pattern. As the impact surface is tilted away from vertical, more and more of the mass continues in the approximate direction that the bullet was originally traveling. In a steel bullet trap, these are the large pieces of lead that result.
However, some of the bullet particles always leave the 360° cone pattern, and are the particles that comprise the backsplatter. The exact amount and pattern is a function of many variables including the bullet alloy, the angle of the plate, and the velocity of the impact. It is too complicated for further discussion here. Let it suffice that the measure of ballistic efficiency is the relationship of the quantity of large massive pieces as compared to the quantity of fine dust and small shavings in the lead debris. For shooting range considerations, ricochet is considered to be any rebounding particle that is capable of inflicting property damage or bodily harm. Thus, a backsplatter particle could be considered ricochet if it traveled in the direction of the shooters, and if it contained sufficient energy to do harm.
Fortunately, the greater the energy in a particle, the greater the tendency for it to follow the originally aimed path of the bullet, i.e., in the direction of safe containment. The lower the energy in a particle, the more likely it is to behave as a billiard ball, and after a series of rebounds to get back to the firing line. Most people are surprised to learn that it is the relatively low velocity particle that can be the potentially dangerous ricochet.
By providing surfaces that will interrupt those particles that are traveling in a direction that could conceivably get back to the shooter, backsplatter particles are prevented from becoming ricochets. In an escalator type trap, these surfaces are the sidewall fairings, the floor fairings, and the diversion plate. In a venetian blind type trap, the principal method is the anti-splatter edge that is provided along the leading edges of the impact plates. The closer these backsplatter interrupting members are located to the areas of bullet impact, the more backsplatter they will catch. That is why under ideal conditions a venetian blind type trap results in slightly less backsplatter on the floor than an escalator type trap. Unfortunately, in practical use the anti-splatter edges themselves receive a proportional share of the incoming bullets. Thus, instead of being the principal backsplatter eliminating feature, they become backsplatter and ricochet generating problems themselves.
The longer travel those backsplatter particles make, the larger proportion will pass over the various members intended to stop them. A very wide trap will result in more backsplatter particles escaping than a narrow trap. However, even in a five or six point trap, bullets fired into the lower extreme right or left side will result in noticeably more backsplatter escaping than those fired into the center or anyplace higher up on the trap. Not so obvious, however, is the effect of the overtrap fairing. If the overtrap fairing is relatively short because of a low ceiling or ceiling baffle system, very little backsplatter results from the high shots that hit it. If the overtrap fairing is as long as it frequently is in a high ceiling range without a baffled ceiling system, it is inevitable that many bullets will hit its upper surfaces. This will result in backsplatter, some of which may end up on the floor. Where as in the use of an environmental bullet trap like the GranTrap, the range can be particle free from backsplatter and ricochets from the bullet trap. The bullets will not come back out of the soft rubber media and return towards the shooters. This is the safer design to consider.
Virtual marksmanship training and judgmental video simulation courseware
Courseware is an important component of Meggitt Training Systems’ law enforcement simulators and is provided in marksmanship and judgmental training video formats. While standard packages are provided with law enforcement training system, user-specific customized packages are created with Meggitt’s staff of subject matter experts (SMEs), working with the client to develop virtual training that fits their requirements.
Marksmanship lanes courseware
Lanes courseware supports traditional shooting range courses used for marksmanship training. Embedded lanes authoring capability enables customer subject matter experts to create unique firearms qualification courses through the selection of various range backgrounds and targets. The customer can also import image files of new targets and backgrounds to be used in virtual firearms training courses.
With over XXX scenarios, Meggitt’s vast library of video courseware supports judgmental training. On many occasions it’s important for law enforcement to analyze a situation and potential threat, and respond accordingly. In our de-escalation of force scenarios, officers’ responses can range from verbal commands, less lethal engagement using optional chemical spray devices and Taser® simulators, and/or lethal engagement using firearms. For each segment of the video scenario, the instructor is presented with a list of possible outcomes, or branching options to tailor the scenario outcome based on training objectives or adjusting to differing trainee responses. An integrated video authoring station enables instructors to create new scenarios to support specific training objectives.
Do you want to learn more about video scenarios and courseware? Click here!
Meggitt Training Systems GranTrap successfully passed the ballistic and environmental performance criteria set forth in the Government’s Performance Specification for the Naval Surface Warfare Center located at Crane, Indiana. The bullet trap evaluation was so successful the indoor range was certified as full automatic fire and .50 caliber capable. This rating was realized because the bullet trap contained all rounds that were fired at point blank range as well as at acute angles of fire. During testing, there was absolutely no backsplatter or ricochet observed.
A secondary benefit realized from the GranTrap, in addition to its environmental performance, was the elimination of the noise associated with impact and deceleration of bullets on steel bullet traps. Meggitt’s GranTrap also reduces the vibrations in the floor/ foundation that are created from the energy being transferred from a steel trap to any of the supporting structures.
The FATS 100LE virtual training systems offers optional tablet training material content:
Remotely operate Marksmanship as an instructor or operator
Allows the student to view in runtime, or AAR individual results and access auto coaching
Allows the instructor to operate the training materials, and auto coaching features
Only System Setup instructions remain on the tablet if it is removed from the system
Other materials streamed from system for data security
Materials can be viewed on the tablet and main screen(s) simultaneously
Accessible control from within the training application
Q.I have a lot of questions about steel bullet traps. What is the one you hear the most often from your customers?
A. The most frequently question asked of a steel bullet trap is, “What will it take (i.e., what can it withstand)?” Virtually any commercial area type bullet trap will “take” all conventional handgun, rim fire rifle, shotgun and submachine gun ammunition. “Conventional” ammunition is considered to have bullets primarily composed of lead. They may be partially or entirely jacketed with gliding copper. However, they may not contain any hard materials such as steel or zinc. Obvious exclusions are all armor piercing or metal piercing ammunition, all center fire rifle ammunition (except those traps specifically designated “RIFLE”), and all steel shot such as BB’s.
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This newsletter covers just a few of the ways that Meggitt’s virtual and live-fire products are improving training for defense forces, law enforcement agencies and commercial gun ranges around the world. In upcoming newsletters, we’ll introduce you to new technologies and products. For more information, contact MGTTS-LESales@meggitt.com.
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InVeris Training Solutions is the world leader for integrated live-fire and virtual weapons training systems for defense forces, law enforcement agencies and commercial shooting range owners around the world.