300 meters, 600 meters — safe direction matters

Can you shoot and hit a target 300 meters away — with your handgun?

(h/t Shawn)

Now while it’s cool that he can do this, there’s a bigger lesson to take from this.

Your bullets can travel a long distance.

This is why “safe direction” is vital.

Back in 2008 in neighboring Hays County, a 7-year old boy was jumping on his trampoline. A neighbor who lived about a third of a mile away (that’s about 600 meters) was in his backyard shooting his .22 caliber rifle (it’s a rural area). One of the bullets struck and killed the boy. The man claimed he never saw the boy.

True. 600 meters away? It’s going to be hard to see someone, and that’s assuming a clear line of sight. Of course, if you have a clear line of sight, that also means you don’t have a good backstop. I don’t know what he was shooting into, what he was expecting to cause his bullet to come to rest, but it obviously was not adequate.

You must understand that bullets can and do travel for quite a distance. Found this great chart from TX Park & Wildlife:

How Far Can A Bullet Travel?
Type 0 1 mile 2 miles 3 mile 4 miles 5 miles
 .22 Short ········ (.5 to 1 mile)
 .22 LRHV ············ (1-1.5 miles)
 .22 Mag ················ (1.5-2.5 miles)
 .222 ························· (2-3 miles)
 .243 ······························ (2.5-3.5 miles)
 .257 ······························ (2.5-3.5 miles)
 .270 ······························ (2.5-3.5 miles)
 7MM ········································ (up to 5 miles)
Type 0 1 mile 2 miles 3 miles 4 miles 5 miles
 .30-30 ····················· (2-2.5 miles)
 .30-06 ······································· (3.5-4.5 miles)
 .300 Sav ······························ (2.5-3.5 miles)
 .300 Win Mag ········································ (up to 5 miles)
 .303 ····················· (2-2.5 miles)
 .308 ······························ (2.5-3.5 miles)
 .338 ········································ (up to 5 miles)
 .35 Rem ····················· (2-2.5 miles)
 .45-70 ················ (1.5-2.5 miles)
0 1 mile 2 miles 3 miles 4 miles 5 miles
Source: NSSF / SAAMI


In short, most rifle bullets can travel a few miles. Handgun bullets can go about 1 to 1.5 miles.

Next time you get in the car, reset your trip odometer and let it pace off 1 mile. Let it pace off 2 miles, 3 miles. See how far from home you are? Or heck, just use Google Maps or Google Earth. Start at your home and measure off 1, 2, 3 miles. Measure off to some common landmarks, like the nearest grocery store, or the gas station. See how those fall within that range?

Hopefully eye-opening.

Your bullets can travel much further than you think.

Safe direction is vital.

4 thoughts on “300 meters, 600 meters — safe direction matters

  1. it’s why i keep telling you that ‘rule’ is so inane and so little followed correctly. there is literally no safe direction sans a backstop that has been tested for the round in question.

      • we had this discussion before a couple of years ago when we were talking about the hard-and-fast safety rules that we’ve learned all our life–usually the ones put out by the nra but there is little variation overall.

        i said that i’d rather not have a ‘rule’ that rarely could be followed. one example was living in an apartment complex and wanting to dry fire. there is literally no safe direction in any line of your cube outwards.

        now, we experienced shooters know that if we truly make our weapon safe that this rule doesn’t matter whatsoever. the ‘rule’ is out there for the lowest common denominator gun owner–the ones we all know who scare us with their lack of common sense, let alone total lack of gun safety. i fired beside some of them when i did chl quals and they even scared the (swat) instructor!

        now, hopefully, these folks are enrolled in one of your classes and can be taught. but most of them learned wrong thinking about firearms from their fathers and their fathers fathers. face it, there is a significant (i’d say north of 40%) group of gun owners who do not deserve to own a gun without passing a rigorous test of their common sense, forget about just the mentals, throw out the stupid as well.

        problem with that is that the nra would have to disband as they are nearly entirely made up of people who are an entirely different level of stupid–they think the organization is to protect their rights and not to make the gun manufacturers richer.

        but of course there are women and gays and immigrants and poor people who vote republican and you don’t have to be stupid to be deluded–just media brainwashed.


  2. Actually, there is great variation amongst the rule sets. And of them, I do think the NRA’s version works a lot better. It’s better wording, better approach, and you don’t find potential paradoxes like “how can I dry fire if all guns are always loaded?”.

    Is there no safe direction in the apartment? Well, first you must consider the expanded explanation of “safe direction” (even in the NRA’s explanation) understands that it’s actually “the safest possible direction, right now given circumstances”. And if truly you don’t have that, you ought to find a way to make it, e.g. having a 1-2′ thick stack of books, or there are practice pads and body armor panels you can buy that would serve the purpose. If you don’t have one, make one.

    I’m not going to say the rule is out there for the bottom of the barrel bubba, because the reality is — we’re all human. We are all prone to make mistakes. Shit happens. None of us are above it. We all need to follow the rules, always. Yeah, they are just rules and no one is going to jump out of the shadows and slap you with a fine or jail time if you violate them… but you just always have to keep in mind that if you do violate the rules, consequences could be more than you’re willing to bear.

    Thankfully yes, more people are getting formal training. What Karl likes to call “Gun Culture 2.0” is changing the face of gun ownership because there are less and less people learning “from grandpa in the back pasture” and having no choice but to learn by formal means with an instructor. Furthermore, a lot more new gun owners these days are of a mindset that at least some level of formal training is a MUST if you’re going to own and use a gun. The # of people thinking that merely a Y chromosome makes them competent with a gun is thankfully dwindling. So, this is all good, but it’s going to take time to reach critical mass… and even still, there will always be goobers.

    Still, this is why we make teaching safety a point of every class. Sure the beginner classes spend an hour talking about all sorts of safety things (from the rules, to chemicals, to effects of lead, ear and eye protection, etc.), and the advanced classes may have just a 5-10 minute briefing at the start of class to remind everyone and point out some key procedural issues for the class. But it’s always there, always… because we all need it, always. None of us are (or should) be above a rules reminder.

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