This Is Why Your Range May Not Allow You To Shoot Tracers

RED SEA (June 18, 2014) Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Tyler Stegmaier fires tracer rounds from a .50 caliber machine gun during night time live fire exercise aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). Roosevelt is deployed as a part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group supporting maritime security operations and theater security efforts in the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

Tracers are cool. Ever since I watched the start of the Gulf War on CNN, I’ve loved the image of tracer fire in the dark. Well, that and the fact that it makes an ordinary firearm look like a blaster out of Star Wars or something.


However, a lot of places have a rule against shooting tracers. No matter how cool, they won’t let you shoot them, which I’ve heard plenty of folks complain about through the years.

There’s a reason for that rule, though. This:

Friday night around 80 firefighters from departments across the Tri-Cities region were called to Barnett’s Guns in Hampton for a fire that took hours to put out.

When we spoke to Barnett Monday, he said at the time of the fire he was in Florida buying guns at a distributor show.

“This is very hard on me and, we’ve lost everything…I put the roof on it, I put the ridge cap…this is part of me, I worked hard on this, it took me a lifetime to build that,” Barnett said.

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.

That’s not pretty, but as Miguel over at Gun Free Zone notes, that was probably an ugly combination.

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.


He’s got a point.

Look, folks, I know it sucks when you can’t shoot whatever you want at your range, but there’s usually a reason for it. Especially when your primary reason for wanting to do it is because something is just cool.

Someone shot some tracers, and now a man has watched his business turn into a smoking ruin, a business he put in life into.

If a range won’t let you train the way you legitimately need to, then fine, find another range. But if they don’t want you to shoot a certain kind of round because it can burn down the freaking building, then maybe you should mellow out and recognize that maybe that cool round isn’t really needed.


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