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Vienna Fish and Game updates rules after stray bullet incident

VIENNA — A township fish and game club revised its target practice policy after a bullet reportedly ricocheted from a metal target and struck the window of a nearby home in mid-April.

The Vienna Fish and Game Club’s board of directors now allow only paper targets at the range, according to board Trustee Russell Evans.

On Easter, a member and guests were shooting on the range when the incident occurred. Evans said it was an isolated matter and an investigation determined that someone had placed a steel target in the ground at an angle. He said the shooters involved were spoken to about not doing that again.

Such metal targets are not allowed on the rifle range.

“It was an educational and learning issue,” Evans said. “The incident happened in April and right after that we began talking about, ‘What we can do to prevent this?’ We have contacted different contractors since last June.

“We are making sure that it will never happen again.”

Evans said at this month’s board meeting a proposal will be made to hire a contractor to raise the range backstop and make enhancements to the sides of the range.

He said they would like to get the project started as soon as possible, but it will be based on contractor availability.

John Vogel, a National Rifle Association-qualified range safety officer, said it is important to avoid creating a ricochet field behind the target up to the back stop.

Vogel said the impact on a swinging target in the air diminishes on contact compared to if the target is in the ground.

POLICE INVOLVED

Vienna police Chief Bob Ludt said the department received a call April 17 about the incident. It’s believed a metal target could cause a bullet to ricochet.

“We believe that is what happened,” Ludt said. “We and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources went out and checked.

“The people at the gun range were very cooperative. They have rules there of certain targets you are allowed to bring, such as paper and cardboard. They discourage metal targets.

“It was an accident, and the gun club offered to pay for any damage to the home.”

No one was hurt, he noted.

Shooters use different items as targets, he explained, with police using paper targets.

“There are always people who get experimental,” Ludt said. “There are metal targets out there that you can buy that are a swinging target and not stationary. So if you hit it, a swinging target causes the bullet to reflect down. If you stick a piece of metal in the ground, the bullet goes up and can travel a long distance.

“If you take a piece of steel and shoot at it, chances are it will not go through but ricochet.”

Ludt, who has been with the police department for the past 10 years, said this was the only time he has been called to the range for such a situation.

“Accidents happen. With any firearm, you have to be careful,” Ludt said.

BULLET ASTRAY

The police chief said most gun ranges have dirt barriers, and most people are shooting at eye level or downward, so bullets won’t stray.

Ludt said that a large, wooded area around the range, and the bullet had to go up and over all the trees, and not hit a tree in order to hit the house.

According to the police report, the resident told police they heard a loud bang and thought someone threw a baseball at a window. The resident then discovered a bullet struck the window. Police went to the gun club to inspect the backstop.

The shooting range is located south of the residence.

“I was there at the time this happened. No one got hurt,” club member Daniel Trachman said. “We were lucky that no one was sitting right inside the window.”

A CRITIC

Trachman said while some changes were made since the bullet incident, he said he believes these are “small moderations” because the previous policy allowed authorized reactionary targets on the rifle range.

The authorized reactionary targets are defined as a target made of steel or polymer / plastic material.

“They are saying now paper targets only on the rifle range,” he said. “They still need to address the pistol range. My problem is the backstops and berms there are not high enough.

“I’ve expressed concerns the rifle range has no berm on the right side.”

Trachman said when shooting 75 yards back, it is important the line of sight is always to hit the backstop. He also said the backstop at the range is only 15 feet high but, in the NRA Range Source Book, the suggested height is 20 feet. He said nearby trees have bullet holes in them, which shows that bullets are going in that direction.

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