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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Firearms Photo Contest - Winners Announced

Thanks to all who submitted photos to the contest and CONGRATS to the winners.  I will be sending emails to the winners very shortly.

First Place
Alan W.

Second Place
Derek @ The Packing Rat

Third Place

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Firearms Photo Contest is over...

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.  I will be announcing the winners within the next few days.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Transition from WASHLEFI to ZERO7ONE

I have used the moniker of ZERO7ONE for a few years now, but started my original blog under WASHLEFI.  I am in the process of transitioning everything over to this page to maintain an uniformity in my postings.  I apologize for any inconveniences that this has caused.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sneaky Bag SB02 Active Shooter Bag Review

Recently I had the chance to review the Sneaky Bag SB02 Active Shooter Bag.  The bag seems to be the perfect size as it is large enough to carry all of the essential gear needed (extra ammo, food, water, spare batteries, door wedges, small electronics, etc), though it is not too large to become cumbersome.  The bag is well put together and appears to take abuse well.  Many Active Shooter bags on the market today have some sort of MOLLE attachment on the outside of the bag that make the bag look tactical.  This bag can be descreetly carried and almost be confused for a laptop bag or shoulder bag if you are looking for a functional bag that doesn't "scream" tactical.  Note:  If you are looking for the descreet look, the multi-cam pattern may not be your first choice.  I chose the multi-cam pattern because I intend not only to use the bag for Active Shooter situations, but also for a go-bag for long-term perimeriter positions.  With the addition of a jacket inside the bag, it will make a nice rest for my long-gun.  In Active Shooter situations nobody will care what color your bag is, as long as you are there to complete the mission and you are properly equipped.  A nice addition that I would like to see for future bags would be a descreet "rip-away" panel on the front flap that could be removed to show markings such as "POLICE", "DEPUTY", "AGENT", etc.

The side pockets are large enough to place two 16.9 oz bottles of water inside.

The SB02 bag has two removable waist/leg straps to assit you in stabalizing the bag if needed.  The option of completely removing the straps is well appreciated since some may find that the straps will become a hinderance and/or feel that they will add something to get caught up on.

The rear of the bag (body side) has a flat document pouch and a grab handle.  The grab handle can be folded into the document pocket and secured with the "hook and pile tape" (aka Velcro), which prevents the handle from becoming a catch hazard.

The front buckle is approximately 2" in width, which assists the user in opening the bag under stressful situations by using gross motor skills instead of fine motor skills.  The buckle is hefty and should hold up well to rigorous use.

The above is a close-up image of the hefty parts used and the sound craftsmanship used to build this bag.

The 2" webbing shoulder strap has a removable shoulder pad.  The padding is thick enough and the strap is wide enough that even with a heavy load in the bag, the strap does not cause undue discomfort or fatigue.

The SB02 bag comes with a Universal Magazine / Utility Insert.  I was able to place six Magpul PMAG's inside the insert.  The insert could be used to house a variety of items and secured in place with the draw string.  The insert attaches securely inside the bag with the entire rear of the panel being covered in "hook and pile tape".

Underneath the front flap, on the front of the bag is a built-in dump pouch.  The pouch is large enough that dropping a partially spent magazine during a tactical reload is quick and easy.

Below is information about the SB02 Active Shooter Bag from the manufacturer's webpage:

Product Description

2.25 LBS

Colors available: Black, Charcoal, Coyote, Foliage, Navy, and Multicam.

Main Interior Pocket Dimensions 10 x 10 x 4

Exterior Pocket Dimensions: Dump/Quick Access Draw corded pocket 10 x 3 x 9
Rear Document pocket 11x 9
Side Utility Pockets 4 x 3.5 x 8.5

The SB-02 is a single-flap utility bag that functions well as a medical aid bag, active shooter bag, or tool bag. The SB02 is internally stiffened with plastic panels to discourage the bag from collapsing, and to ease tool/weapon/magazine access. The bag is carried primarily by a 2 inch wide flat webbing shoulder strap with a detachable pad. There is also a 1 inch webbing "Grab Handle" on the rear of the bag. The interior of the bag is lined in loop Velcro allowing users to reconfigure the interior of the bag with Utilizigns/Sneakybags hook backed inserts or other manufacturers compatible hook backed accessories. The SB-02 comes with one Universal Magazine/Utility Insert (Item# 3CINS). The exterior front features a draw corded "Dump Pouch" for items like spent magazines or other items that need to be quickly stowed. There are two side mounted flap covered utility pockets sized to fit a 1liter Nalgene bottle or similar sized items The rear of the bag has a small, flat pocket for documents Users may use the attached waist and leg straps to stabilize the bag during vigorous activity or the straps may be removed entirely if not needed.

100% made in the USA with the finest components.

Product Description:The 2 Cell Universal Magazine Insert comes standard in our MSB and SB01 Bags, while the 3 Cell Universal Magazine Insert comes standard in our SB02 Bag. The Universal Magazine Insert holds a variety of different sizes and types of magazines, including AK, AR, and FAL. The back of the insert is covered in hook velcro to be compatable with our bags and other bags as well.

Warranty Information:
All of our products have a lifetime guarantee on work and materials.

Sneaky Bags Homepage

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SHOT Show 2011 - Pre-Planning

I am planning on attending the 2011 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, which will be my first year there.  Does anyone have any suggestions on what to plan for?  I have already gone through the list of Exhibitors and whittled them down to about 230 that I want to pay a visit to.  I may have to prioritize the list to who I absolutely have to visit, then who I would like to visit.  I am only going to be able to attend from the 18th-20th, so I have to cram everything into about 2 1/2 days.

Any and all useful suggestions are greatly appreciated.

If you are not familiar with SHOT Show, here is their link:  LINK

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blade Tech Training Barrel

I picked up a Blade-Tech Training Barrel last week.  Initially I picked it up for training purposes and for filming training videos where we wanted to use a realistic weapon and still have the weapons be noticeably safe.  The installation of the training barrel is as easy as field stripping your handgun and putting it back together.  The Training Barrel also works great for dry fire exercises.  There is no way a negligent discharge could happen with a Training Barrel installed in your handgun.  Though the price tag is a little bit more than a chamber plug/flag, I think that the barrel being replaced is well worth the extra few dollars, especially with the ability to have a completely safe environment to conduct dry fire drills with.
From Blade-Tech's Web Page:
1. The Training Barrel provides the ability of realistic dry-fire weapon handling during practice and training but more importantly eliminates any chance for a tragic accident, such as a negligent accidental discharge.
2. The training barrel will allow full slide function which aids in tap rack manipulation drills and trigger function.
3. The training barrel allows the operator/instructor to use his/her OWN weapon by simply removing the factory barrel and inserting the high visibility yellow training barrel which is recognized as a safety color.
4. By using the training barrel one of the many key benefits is that you will be able to get good sight picture while presenting the pistol to a threat or target, this eliminates bad habits and promotes good training habits.
5. The training barrel is ideal for disarming, weapon retention, room clearing and CQB tactics.
6. While the solidly constructed training guns available today are 100% safe, they are not beneficial to teaching or demonstrating weapon manipulation along with trigger function.
7. The training barrel is lighter, smaller, and easier to transport than plastic training weapons and is made with strong impact resistant material which prevents flexing& bending; and is resistant to harsh chemicals.
8. The training barrel is less expensive and more economical than the average training weapon.
9. The training barrel has no complex parts to attach, lock/unlock, etc. It is one piece construction. No extra equipment is needed.
10. The Training Barrel works with all holsters! In the case of closed bottom holsters the barrel length can be modified to fit by just shortening the Training Barrel’s length (easily done with a hacksaw). The 19/23 barrel will also work in the 26/27, Just needs to be shortened to desired length. (Easily done with a hacksaw)
11. It makes weapons on display at trade Shows or in a gun stores 100% safe, allowing the potential client’s, student’s and customer’s to observe and handle the weapon.
12. Instructors can maintain possession of all real barrels until students have demonstrated proficiency with handling the weapon and “graduate” to the actual barrel.
13. Eliminates using annoying large steel dry fire plates at training schools.
14. The Training Barrel is backed by a 1 year warranty! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Free Training Targets #2 - Courtesy of WASHLEFI

Here are a few more targets that I have created for your training use.  Let me know if they work out for you.

If there are any problems in downloading the Target .pdf files, please let me know as soon as possible at so I can resolve any issues.

The Speed and Accuracy Target is meant to be used with a shot timer, but a stopwatch will work as well.  One shot per circle as accurately, quickly, and safely as possible.

The Nickel Drill is to assist the shooter in working on obtaining a tight grouping of shots.  Typically the shooter will shoot 5 shots per Nickel to gauge how accurate their grouping is. 

 Same principle as the Nickel Drill, only now you have a smaller target.

Same principle as the Nickel Drill, only now you have a larger target.

The Billiards Select Target is best if used with a shooter / coach relationship.  The coach will call out either a number or color.  If the coach calls out "2", the shooter will shoot at the "2" ball.  If the coach calls out "Blue", the shooter will shoot at the "2" and "10" balls.  It is up to the shooter and/or coach how many rounds are shot at each ball.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tactical Design Labs Comfort Panel Review

Manufacturers Link
- Comfort Panel (includes lumbar support and two 9.5 in. Keepers)
- Comfort system provides extra comfort and superior weight distribution.
- High Cycle Velcro loop lining mates to the inner belt
- High Cycle Velcro hook holds our duty belt and gear in place for accurate indexing.

Our unique Comfort Panel is designed to fit across your lower back and around the hip where you bear the weight of a loaded duty belt.  It features an outer belt support loop in the back that will fit any 2.25"duty belts. We've designed the support system to 'float' the duty belt for extra comfort, and superior weight distribution. Removable lumbar pad increases comfort and support.  Most beneficial when purchased with the Professional Comfort System.  Available in 3 sizes: MED (27" - 36" waist), LG-XL (36" - 48"), and XXL (48" - 58").


Any Law Enforcement professional who has been wearing a duty belt for more than a day knows how uncomfortable the belt can be when worn for any amount of time.  Add your handgun, magazines, two sets of handcuffs, a radio, a flashlight, an expandable baton, and any other accessories that you attach to your bat-belt, the weight can creep into the 15+ lbs range.

When I was beginning out as an Officer I really didn't have back pain.  I had some from the Army and from everyday abuse, but nothing serious.  Though after years of carrying a duty belt around my back started taking a toll on me.

About six months ago I started to notice a small lump in my lower back, which every doctor that I went to had a different answer for.  One said it was a cyst, another said it was a tight muscle or muscle spasm, and another didn't have a clue what it was, but prescribed me 800MG of Ibuprofen anyway.  Eventually my right leg went numb and I was having sharp back pains.  Finally a doctor referred me to a spinal specialist and I was able to get a MRI.  Luckily the MRI came back "normal", but I still didn't have an answer for the back pain and leg numbness.

I started to think about what could cause the pain and narrowed it down to my duty belt.  I had seen other Officers wearing a pad on the inside of their duty belt and they gave me the information for Tactical Design Labs.  I did a little bit of research and determined that the $50 price tag of the Comfort Panel was well worth the gamble in trying to get my back to being pain free.

After receiving the Comfort Panel I removed all of the "bat gear" off of my "bat belt" and slid my nylon duty belt onto the Comfort Panel rubber loop.  I attached all of my gear back on the duty belt and adjusted the buckle to account for the additional room needed inside.  Total install time was about 20 minutes.  That may seem like a lot of time to install an addition to the duty belt, but I had to adjust my holster a few times to its new position, since the circumference of the duty belt had been changed.

My first impression of the Comfort Panel once I was wearing it was awkward.  It took me a few shifts to get use to having that extra material around the duty belt, but eventually it became normal and it is no longer noticed.  The Comfort Panel comes with a smaller removable pad on the inside of the Panel that rests on your spine.  I tried it, but I could not get use to the feeling of it under my belt, so I no longer use the small pad.

I will not go back to a standard duty belt without the Comfort Panel and I highly recommend them to new Officers that are just starting out.  They may not feel that it is necessary, but every ounce of prevention is well worth its weight in gold.

During my initial research in looking for a product such as the Comfort Panel, I was not able to find anyone else that offered a similar product.  So I cannot say that this is the best product out there, however it is one that I have had great success with and would purchase again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Firearms Photo Contest Announcement and Rules

Announcing the first Trigger Press Blog Firearms Photo Contest


1. The photograph must be your own work, don't steal images for the contest.
2. The photograph must be of an actual firearm, no Air soft versions or other replicas allowed.
3. Only one (1) entry per email address, so pick your best image.
4. The top three (3) photographs will win the prize(s) listed below.
5. The rights to your image, will remain your rights.  If you want to watermark your image to prevent intellectual property theft, please do so, but do not place the watermark directly over the center of the image.
6. You must be a resident of the United States and have a mailing address within the United States or APO AE/AP/AA.
7. Be creative.  Pictures of guns sitting on  your dining room table or on the floor become boring after awhile.
8. I reserve the right to select the winners and my choices are final.  I ensure you that this will be a fair contest.


1st Place - Protech Impac S.T. Trauma Plate - 7"x9" (value ~ $120)

2nd Place - Stark Equipment SE-2 AR-15 Hook Mount Sling Grip - Dark Earth (value ~ $45)

3rd Place - Tactical Tailor Large Utility / Dump Pouch - Coyote brown (value ~ $30)


All entries must be submitted by midnight (PST) on Friday, October 15th, 2010.

How to submit:

Submit  your digital photograph to  Ensure that the file is in .jpg format and under 2MB in size.  Include your full name and the preferred method of contacting you in your email if you win.


If you have any questions about the contest, please post a comment and I will reply in the same manner so everyone knows what questions have been asked and answered.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blog - TBI Warrior

This is a little outside the box for topics related to Firearms, but as a Combat Veteran myself, I fully believe that this topic should be known about by the general U.S. population.

Quote from blog:
This is a Traumatic Brain Injury Blog. I am Soldier recovering from TBI and here I document the beginning of my new life. I have turned my frustrations into a new mission: HELP OTHERS RECOVER THROUGH MY EXPERIENCES. IT ALL GETS BETTER.
If you get a chance, check out this blog from a true American Hero who suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a disabling injury that it not very well known about by the general population.

You can also follow him on Twitter at @PurpleHeart0629.

Do You Train Enough?

How often we train with our firearms and how effective that training is can have a profound effect on maintaining your skill levels. Firearms skills are a perishable skill that diminishes over time. Overall, for law enforcement, the most proficient an average officer is at their firearms handling skills is probably immediately after they graduate the Academy. The recruit is receiving constant and effective training on a weekly basis, if not a few times a week. Some days the recruit may be training for 2-4 hours, while other days it may be all day on the range.

After a recruit leaves the Academy, their agency may give them additional handgun and/or rifle training to prepare them for the streets and for the agency to ensure that they have indeed trained to a sufficient level at the Academy. Unfortunately, after the initial push of decent training, most officers do not receive on-going training throughout their career.

How often does the officer come to the range? Once a year for qualification? A few times a year for qualification? Is there training built in to the time that the officer is out at the range for qualifications?

Do you consider a qualification as being training? You shouldn't. A weapons qualification is not training. It is only a test. It is a test of your proficiency to continue to carry your firearm for duty use. Do not count your time on the range during a qualification as "training" time.

How often should you train? There are a lot of variables to this question. Cost of ammunition, availability of ammunition, time of the officer being off the street, times the range is available for use, and officer motivation to train on their own are only a few.

A good friend of mine made a good point to me once. I'm not sure if he came up with it himself or if he read it in a book, but he told me; "It is better to train a little bit more often, than to train a long time less often."

The way I translate this is as follows: If you go to the range once a week and shoot only one box of ammo (handgun - 50 rounds) for one year, you will have had 52 training sessions to work on your fundamentals and to maintain, if not improve, your firearms handling skills. If you go to the range twice a year and shoot 26 boxes of ammo (1300 rounds), you would have shot the same amount of rounds down range, but how effective was that training? Sure, shooting 1300 rounds of ammunition in one training day is not realistic. Is it possible, probably, but very likely. More realistically is that you would probably at the max, shoot 200-300 rounds during a training day, if you are truly focusing on properly training. Too much training in one day will cause fatigue and will create training scars. This will cause you to move backward, not forward in improving your skills.

Take every training opportunity that you have. If your agency offers training, mandatory or not, take advantage of it. If you can find a tactical shooting course, take it. You may not agree with everything that the instructors say, but it may help you open your eyes to something that you did not previously know. Train a lot, especially if you can get the ammunition for free.

Here are two links that offer a great wealth of knowledge. The first is the 2008 FBI statistics on Officers feloniously killed and the second link is information once again from the FBI about cop attackers and their mentality.

2008 FBI – Officers Feloniously Killed Stats

Force Science News #62: New Findings from FBI About Cop Attackers & Their Weapons

Here are a few points from Force Science of information on findings from the FBI about cop attackers and their weapons. The entire article is worth the read.

From a pool of more than 800 incidents, the researchers selected 40, involving 43 offenders (13 of them admitted gangbangers-drug traffickers) and 50 officers, for in-depth exploration. They visited crime scenes and extensively interviewed surviving officers and attackers alike, most of the latter in prison.

Several of the offenders began regularly to carry weapons when they were 9 to 12 years old, although the average age was 17 when they first started packing “most of the time.” Gang members especially started young.

Nearly 40% of the offenders had some type of formal firearms training, primarily from the military. More than 80% “regularly practiced with handguns, averaging 23 practice sessions a year,” the study reports, usually in informal settings like trash dumps, rural woods, back yards and “street corners in known drug-trafficking areas.”

One spoke of being motivated to improve his gun skills by his belief that officers “go to the range two, three times a week [and] practice arms so they can hit anything.”

In reality, victim officers in the study averaged just 14 hours of sidearm training and 2.5 qualifications per year. Only 6 of the 50 officers reported practicing regularly with handguns apart from what their department required, and that was mostly in competitive shooting. Overall, the offenders practiced more often than the officers they assaulted, and this “may have helped increase [their] marksmanship skills,” the study says.

The offender quoted above about his practice motivation, for example, fired 12 rounds at an officer, striking him 3 times. The officer fired 7 rounds, all misses.

More than 40% of the offenders had been involved in actual shooting confrontations before they feloniously assaulted an officer. Ten of these “street combat veterans,” all from “inner-city, drug-trafficking environments,” had taken part in 5 or more “criminal firefight experiences” in their lifetime.

One reported that he was 14 when he was first shot on the street, “about 18 before a cop shot me.” Another said getting shot was a pivotal experience “because I made up my mind no one was gonna shoot me again.”

Again in contrast, only 8 of the 50 LEO victims had participated in a prior shooting; 1 had been involved in 2 previously, another in 3. Seven of the 8 had killed offenders.

New Training Targets - Courtesy of WASHLEFI

Here are a few targets that I have created for your training use.  Let me know if they work out for you.

If there are any problems in downloading the Target .pdf files, please let me know as soon as possible at so I can resolve any issues.

The Buildig Blocks - Decision Maker target is good for a shooter / coach relationship in having the coach call out a letter, number, or shape and the shooter has to respond quickly and accurately to get a round or rounds on target.

The Reducing Boxes target is to get the shooter to slowly gain confidence in aiming for and hitting a smaller target.  Shoot 5 rounds into each box.

The Meerkat Mayhem Target is just for fun.  Do with it what you like.

 The principle of the Reducing Circles Target is the same as the Reducing Boxes Target above, just a different shape to shoot at.

The Hostage Target is designed to give the shooter a threat target to shoot at while attemtping to aviod hitting the hostage.  The "T" zone on the threat target represents the area around the eyes and nasal cavity that is preferred when conducting a head shot.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rainier Arms

It is not very often that you have the pleasure of dealing with a distributor that you feel compelled to write about it.  Rainier Arms is one of those companies.  I have had many different shopping experiences with them and every single time the customer service was top notch.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to answer even the most menial questions.  They specialize primarily in the AR-15 field, but also have knives, nylon gear, and other products suited for the gun nut.

I have not yet had the opportunity to go to their new store front, but I have heard that it is well put together.  Below is a little but about them from their webpage.  If you are in the market to purchase anything related to your AR-15, just take a peek over at their webpage or stop into their store to see if they have what you need.

Law Enforcement and Military also receive an additional discount.

From their Webpage:

Company Info

Rainier Arms, LLC was started by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. We specialize in high end AR15s/M16s, parts & accessories. "If we won't use it, we won't sell it." Founded in 2005, already has more than 1214 unique products, and growing. Our technical advisory team consists of enthusiasts, law enforcement, & military personnel that continue to make our offerings unique and desirable in the market place.


We view every customer as a customer for life and instill this philosophy to our staff to assure the complete satisfaction of every shopper. We work around the clock to update our site with the hottest products, pictures, features and reliable content. From browsing our intuitive and information-rich website, to purchasing and delivery to your door: we utilize the latest e-commerce and Internet technologies to provide real-time order status information, tracking numbers, safe and secure SSL encrypted transactions and much more.


Rainier Arms, LLC loyalists are accustomed to first-class service and the best values on the web. That is because we are experts on delivering the finest tactical gear available and are in tune to what's hot and what's not. Our reputation, experience and keen industry insight permit us to deliver great product at affordable prices. We stock the most in-demand products and encourage patrons to recommend merchandise to supplement our vast selection. If you have a suggestion you would like to share with our team, please let us know. Customer feedback shapes our business and allows us to better serve our audience so your ideas are always welcome.

(800) 556-GUNS
(253) 218-2999
(253) 218-2998 FAX 

3802 Auburn Way N #305 
Auburn, WA, 98002

Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun: Closed

Somehow she violated some sort of safety rule....

....just not sure which one.  Ouch!

POF-USA P-415 6.8 SPC Mid-Length Review


Lee Precision Diagnostic Targets for Handgun

Link for Right Handed Target

Aero Precision Continuous Optics Platform (C.O.P.) Review


Brownells is also now selling the C.O.P.

Get The Lead Out

Great article from the Baltimore County Police Department on Lead Exposure:
Lead Poisoning - The purpose of this article is not to suggest curtailing shooting or reloading activities in any way. Rather, it is to make Officers, Firearms Instructors, and Administrators aware of the possibility of lead poisoning and how to protect yourself from toxic lead contamination.
A Firearms Safety Hazard - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies lead as a heavy metal with no beneficial biological use in the body. When a person inhales or ingests lead, it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the body it becomes very difficult to remove. Continual exposure results in the accumulation of lead in the body, and measurable amounts of lead indicate cumulative exposure over a lifetime.
The EPA has determined that lead poses a serious health hazard to everyone. Unfortunately, individuals working with and around firearms often overlook the harmful effects of lead. Therefore, firearms range personnel must take precautions to control all unnecessary exposure to this toxic element. For firearms range personnel, knowing the hazards of lead is a primary responsibility. Taking the necessary precautions to minimize exposure is a duty of all firearms instructors.
Effects of Lead on the Body - Approximately 6 percent of all lead ingested or inhaled is deposited in the blood or soft body tissues, such as the kidneys, brain, or other vital organs. The remaining 94 percent is deposited in the bone. Because the body mistakes lead for calcium, it presumes that, once deposited, the lead needs to be stored. However, the body does break down lead so that it can be removed. The time required for this process is measured by the term "half-life", which means the amount of time the body needs to excrete one-half of that lead. The half-life of lead is approximately 20 years. This means one-half of the lead dosage absorbed by the body through only one exposure and deposited in the bone would still be present after 20 years.
Health Concern - For decades, the presence of lead in the environment has been widespread, beginning with smelting factories and continuing with the manufacture of glazed pottery, batteries, and lead gasoline. It has only recently been acknowledged as a serious threat to public health that warrants government control.
In 1971, the EPA began enforcing the Lead Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act, which restricts the amount of lead used in paints. Seven years later, the agency set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which serves as the primary mechanism to reduce lead in gasoline. However, even with these standards and controls, the residue of lead in food, water, and dirt can elevate the lead level in a person's blood.
Firearms and exposure to lead, typically the exposure to lead on the firing line occurs as soon as the shooter pulls the trigger and the hammer falls. This action causes the primer of the cartridge to explode, in the chamber, which then ignites the main powder charge. At this point, a breathable cloud of lead particles is expelled into the air, with lead dust spraying the shooter's hands.
Lead particles also shear off as the bullet travels through the barrel. When the bullet leaves the barrel, a second cloud of contaminants, in the form of the muzzle blast, blasts into the air. Then, as the bullet strikes the impact area, another contaminated cloud rises.
When shooters inhale these clouds of contaminates, lead particles go directly into their lungs and are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The blood then transfers the lead to soft body tissue and bone. Heat from smoking, sweating, or physical activity accelerates this process.
Lead can also settle on the skin and hair, and in turn, can be absorbed through the pores of the skin. If lead particles reach the mouth, they can be ingested into the digestive system.
Exposure increases at clean-up time. Handling empty casings can result in lead being transferred to the skin. The weapon cleaning process also removes much of the remaining lead in the barrel and transfers it to the cleaner's hands. Oils and solvents used to clean and lubricate weapons cause the natural oils in the skin to evaporate, leaving dry skin and open pores through which the lead can pass.
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning - The numerous symptoms of lead poisoning mimic various diseases, often making diagnosis difficult. Most commonly, individuals experience abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, subtle mood changes, headaches, constipation, irritability, and depression. Muscle pain, muscle weakness, weight loss, impotence, convulsions, anemia, and renal failure may occur with increased lead levels in the body.
Testing for Lead - Testing for lead can be performed in several ways. The blood lead level (BLL) test detects recent exposure to lead but does not provide information regarding long term or past exposure. The BLL measures the quantity of lead in micrograms per deciliter of blood, written as us/100 dl, that is micrograms of lead per 100 deciliters of blood.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards states that the median blood levels for adults should be about 15 ug/100 dL. For reproductive health, the blood level should stay below 30-ug/100 dL. OSHA recommends removal from the work place of any employee whose BLL measures 40 ug/100 dL or higher.
The zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) test can be performed in conjunction with the BLL to determine longer exposure. Lead interferes with the absorption of iron into the blood, which is needed to transport oxygen, thereby allowing zinc to replace iron. The ZPP measures the amount of zinc in the blood, which remains elevated longer than the BLL. The normal range for the ZPP is 0-100 dl. An elevated ZPP indicates concentration in the bone marrow.
The only effective test used for bone lead levels is the disodium edentate (EDTA) chelating agent test. EDTA, a solution that is administered intravenously, bonds with the lead in bone, and clears it from body compartments so that it is excreted through the urine. EDTA both tests and treats an individual; however, medical personnel use it only in extreme cases of lead poisoning because of the potentially harmful side effects.
Special Risks - In males, high levels of lead can decrease the sex drive and cause sterility. Lead can also alter the structure of sperm cells, thereby potentially causing birth defects.
Pregnant women are vulnerable to rapid absorption of lead, along with calcium, from the blood into the bone. This mobilization occurs due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. In pregnant women, lead passes unimpeded through the placenta to the fetus, potentially causing miscarriages of the fetus and birth defects.
Children are more vulnerable to lead toxicity than adults are. Children exposed to lead may manifest into slow learning, mental drifts, slight retardation in development, hypertension, and behavioral problems. Excessive blood levels in children can seriously and irreversibly damage a child's brain and nervous system. Because the symptoms mirror those of various childhood diseases, many doctors do not test for lead.
Precautions on the Range - Precautions can be taken both on and off the range to protect shooters, instructors, and their families from lead poisoning. Administrative controls and good hygiene are two necessary tools. In addition, all shooters and instructors should practice the following dos and don'ts of range safety.
Do Not Smoke on the Range - Smoking any type of tobacco products on the range should be prohibited to prevent acceleration of inhaled lead into the blood stream and ingestion of lead transferred from hands to the cigarette, cigar, etc.
Do Not Eat on the Range - Lead dust on hands and face can be ingested through contact with food. Airborne lead expelled from the weapon can also contaminate food.
Don't Collect Fired Brass in Baseball Caps - Many shooters use their baseball caps to collect spent brass, this contaminates the cap with lead particles, When the cap is placed back on the head, the lead is deposited into the hair and absorbed into the skin. Providing boxes for the brass prevents this practice.
Do Be Aware Face, Arms, and Hands Are Covered With Lead - Shooters and instructors should wash thoroughly with cold water and plenty of soap. Cold water is preferred because warm water enhances the absorption of lead by opening the pores of the skin. If no water is available, shooters should consider carrying a box of wet hand wipes or a bottle of cool water and a washcloth for this purpose.
Do Be Aware That Hair and Clothes Are Still Contaminated - Shooters and Firearms Instructors should wear an outer garment, such as a jumpsuit or coveralls, or change clothes before going home. Contaminated clothes should not be cleaned by blowing, shaking, or other means that dispense lead into the air. To prevent cross-contamination, range clothes should be washed separately from the family's regular laundry. Families with infants should be particularly careful, since infants are most vulnerable to lead contamination. Families with infants should be particularly careful since infants are most vulnerable to lead contamination. Changing to clean clothing before leaving the range prevents recontamination of the hands and any contamination of the family vehicle.
Do Change Shoes Before Entering The Residence - Shoes can also transport lead into the home. Shoes should be left at the door to prevent tracking lead onto floors and carpets. Ordinary vacuuming does not remove lead from the home, but redistributes it by blowing it in to the air to be inhaled and/or resettled onto the carpet.
Do Avoid Physical Contact With Family Members Until After Shower, Shampoo, and Change of Clothes - Lead can be transferred by casual contact. Family and friends should not be hugged or kissed until after a shower and a change of clothes. Any physical contacts should be avoided while the shooter is still in range clothing.
Indoor Ranges - Most indoor ranges have a greater lead dust problem than outdoor ranges. However, range personnel can institute several controls to lower the amount of lead dust in these facilities.
The choice of ammunition is one such control. Nonjacketed ammunition produces the most lead dust and fumes, jacketed ammunition, the least. Shotgun shells produce more airborne lead dust than any handgun round. Currently, many ammunition manufacturers are developing lead-free ammunition.
Indoor ranges should not be carpeted, since lead dust settles and contaminates the rugs. A High Efficiency Particulate (HEPA) vacuum, which has a 3-stage particulate air filter is the best vacuum to use for lead.
Because water cannot be treated for lead contamination, personnel should use water sparingly to remove lead when cleaning ranges. If water is used for lead removal, minimizing the amount of water used will result in less pollution. Range maintenance employees should wear disposable coveralls and air purifying masks while cleaning and/or repairing indoor ranges.
What Does All This Mean To You? - Baltimore County Police Department conforms to OSHA lead standards, which became law in 1978. The police department monitors firearms training instructors for lead, and employees are informed of their results. Medical monitoring, such as BLL testing of employees, is conducted and funded by the department. In addition, air-purifying masks are provided to employees.
Washroom and showers are provided to ensure proper clean-up and eating areas are separate from lead contaminated areas. A Lead Abatement Training program has been instituted for all firearms training instructors who may be exposed to lead.
The department has placed warning signs on the range and weapon cleaning area that read: "WARNING, No Smoking or Eating in the gun cleaning area." Additional signs have been placed stating: "Wash Hands With Cold Soapy Water."
The blood level of the typical Baltimore County Police Officer is about four. The typical blood level of those continuously assigned to the Firearms Training Unit is slightly higher. As long as the above precautions are observed, employees of Baltimore County continue to remain safe from excessive exposure.
During the early years of firearms training, neither eye protection or ear protection was provided or encouraged on the range. Today, most departments now require both types of protection on the line.
Currently we have learned that another health hazard, - Lead Poisoning, threatens the physical well being of shooters and instructors in firearms ranges. However, through administrative controls and education, departments can reduce the on-the-job exposure of employees and their families to lead.
If you have any questions, please contact the Range Staff, 410-887-2330.
Revised October 17, 2007
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