Bullet trapping medium and system for live-fire training ranges

Award Year 

To maintain proficiency in the use of firearms, military and law enforcement personnel, as well as recreational shooters, engage in tar-get practice on a training range. In addition to military personnel, more than 19 million Americans safely participate in target shoot-ing, ranging from leisurely hobbies to com-petitive local leagues and from collegiate athletics to the Olympics. The primary con-cern on a training range is preventing injury from ricocheting bullets. For outdoor rang-es, the most common design (more) is the use of a large soil berm behind the target to deceler-ate and trap the bullet and to prevent the ric-ocheting of bullets or shots traveling outside the bounds of the shooting range. However, soil berms have come under severe scrutiny due to the environmental impact associated with water runoff that contains heavy metals (e.g., lead, antimony, copper) from the mu-nitions. Thus, shooting ranges have begun to stress the containment and removal of expended rounds to prevent environmental contamination. A team from the U.S. Army Engineer Re-search and Development Center (ERDC) Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL) has developed, patented, and intro-duced into the commercial sector several inventions that can replace soil berms at shooting ranges and alleviate environmental concerns. The base invention is a foamed fiber-reinforced shock-absorbing concrete, created specifically for use in firing ranges and shoot houses. Trademarked SACON®, the shock-absorbing concrete product of-fers the advantages of absorbing projectiles and eliminating ricochets. SACON® was patented and subsequently licensed to four companies in the U.S. and Canada.Following the model that successfully com-mercialized SACON®, the GSL team en-tered into a Cooperative Research and De-velopment Agreement (CRADA) with one of the SACON® licensees—Super Trap, Inc. (STI)—to focus on developing improvements to firing range technology. Two joint patents Bullet Trapping Medium and System for Live-Fire Training RangesDepartment of Defense - ArmyArmy Engineer Research and Development Center, Geotechnical and Structures Laboratoryfor GEL-COR® and ELIxIRTM resulted from this relationship. GEL-COR® is a fireproof bullet-trapping medium that uses durable polymer gel and rubber, and is now licensed to and marketed by STI. ELIxIRTM, another bullet-trap additive that improves lead con-tainment, also resulted from the CRADA and is licensed to and marketed by STI. By combining SACON® with GEL-COR®, GSL and STI developed a new environmen-tally friendly bullet-trapping system. The system uses SACON® as the frame around the outside of the trap and GEL-COR® as the interior bullet-trapping medium. ELIxIRTMis added to the interior medium as needed. All three inventions are in use at Department of Defense firing ranges, as well as non-fed-eral firing ranges across the United States. (less)