Shooting range terms

Archery: The shooting of arrows or bolts from a bow.

Backstop: A device constructed to stop or redirect bullets fired on a range. This is usually an earthen structure, placed between 16 and 20 feet in vertical height, built in accordance with NRA recommended standards.

Baffles: Barriers to contain bullets and to reduce, re-direct or suppress sound waves and possible stray bullets. Baffles are placed either overhead, alongside or at ground level to restrict or interrupt errant or off target shots. A special baffle referred to as an eyebrow can be placed at the firing line to provide cover and minimize problems caused by double firing, or they can be placed atop backstops to ensure on-site containment of all fired rounds.

Berm: An embankment used between shooting ranges to divide them, or positioned to restrict bullets to a specific area. These are built to establish shooting lanes, and are usually 8 to 12 feet in vertical height.

Bullet trap: A device designed to trap or capture entire bullets or fragments versus redirecting the projectile into a water body, wetland or earthen backstop.

Firing distance: The distance between the firing line and the target line.

Firing line: A line parallel to the targets, from behind which firearms are discharged. Firing Range: (1) A facility designed for the purpose of providing a place on which to discharge firearms, shoot air guns and/or archery equipment; (2) May refer to several ranges constructed together, referred to as a complex or firing range complex.

Handgun: A term used to describe pistols, either auto-loading, single shot or cylinder types held in either one or two hands. Impact Area: The area behind a target on a backstop or bullet trap where bullets are expected to impact. This term may also refer to an area down range at an outdoor range where bullets will impact if not captured by a backstop.

Line of site: An imaginary straight line from the eye through the sights of a firearm to the target.

Misfire: Failure of a bullet cartridge to discharge after the firearm's firing pin has struck the primer. Also referred to as a hangfire.

Pistol: A firearm capable of being held, aimed and fired with one hand. Also known as a revolver or hand gun. Plinking: Informal shooting of any kind at inanimate objects.

Range: The distance traveled by a projectile from a firearm to the final point of impact. Three terms apply to range: "point blank", "effective" and "maximum". For the purposes of shooting range design, point blank refers to distances of five yards or less, effective range means the greatest distance a projectile will travel with accuracy, maximum range means the maximum distance a projectile will travel.

Rifle: (1) A modern firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, generally having a barrel more than 15 inches long. Its main characteristic is a rifled (knurled grooved) barrel that imparts a spin to a single projectile as it travels through the bore. (2) Some rifles designed for military or law enforcement use will have a pistol grip in lieu of a shoulder stock.

Safety rules and regulations: Standards used in the operation of a shooting range. Safety rules and regulations are set up to govern the method of range operation to include health and safety procedures that must be followed throughout the facility. Violation of range rules and regulations generally carries penalties such as suspension or banishment from a range for future use.

Safety baffles: Vertical or sloping barriers designed to prevent a projectiles from traveling into an undesired area or direction. Most often used to prevent bullets from leaving the shooting range.

Shotgun: (1) A firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder with a smoothbore barrel that fires shotshells possessing a varying number if round pellets. (2) Some barrels are designed to be used with rifled slugs, most generally having smooth-bores, but in rare cases may be rifled. Law enforcement and military shotguns may have a pistol grip in lieu of a shoulder stock.

Shotshell: A shotshell designed to be used in shotguns. It is composed of a hull or shell, a primer, powder, shot cup or wad and shot. Shells are normally composed of paper or plastic.

Small arms: Firearms that may be discharged by one person, versus artillery pieces. Small arms are not subject to precise definitions, but the term generally refers to rifles, pistols, shotguns, submachine guns and machine guns.

Small bore: An NRA-sanctioned shooting event using .22 rimfire rifles and bullets on bulls eye targets.

Target line: A line parallel to the firing line along which targets are placed. Trajectory: The path a projectile travels from the muzzle to the point of final impact.

Velocity: The speed at which a projectile travels (usually measured and reported in feet per second or meters per second).