Preventing tragedies with preparedness: Local gun expert discusses firearm safety in wake of fatal target shooting incident

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – A local gun range manager is discussing firearm education and shooting safety after a shooter’s stray bullet killed a young man in his family's car.

The Rich County Sheriff’s Office said a group was doing some shooting practice nearby and didn’t know there was a road behind the target; a 14-year-old boy in the back seat of his parents' car was struck in the head and died.

“Our hearts go out to everybody involved, that is just a horrible tragedy that has occurred,” said local gun range manager and firearm expert, Dave Larsen. “It could have been prevented with a little more of an eye on safety.”

When you step into an indoor shooting range, it may sound and look like a war zone, but it’s actually one of the safest places to shoot.

“If you’re shooting here, we know that our bullets are going into an engineered backstop and they’re going to be collected safely,” Larsen said.

There’s a big difference between being at an indoor range and shooting outside in the desert or woods.

“When you’re shooting outdoors in becomes a little more involved,” Larsen said.

“You want to know, ‘how far is my bullet going to travel?’ and the answer is possibly miles -- and then you want to know what’s out there that the bullet is going to get into, where is your bullet going to end up?” he added.

The problem is, when it comes to shooting outside, the variables multiply.

“Make sure that you know what your target is, what’s behind your target, where your bullets may go and also what may travel between you and your target,” advised Larsen.

One of those variables is the location.

“If you don’t know where your bullet's going to go and you’re shooting into a grove of trees, that’s probably not the best place to shoot,” Larsen said.

“I think it’s always wise, if you’re shooting outdoors, to make sure you’re shooting into a hillside so you can see where your target is and your backstop is right behind the target.” He added.

Another, is simply knowing your firearm’s power. Larsen says some bullets can travel for miles, “depending on the velocity, bullet type and the terrain and the angle at which it’s fired.”

“Even on the little boxes of 22s it says ‘Danger, capable of traveling a mile and a half,’” said Larsen.

But it all comes down to the preparedness of the shooter.

“Absolutely learn how your gun works, learn what the safety features are, make sure you’re putting the right ammunition in it so that when you go out there you know how it functions you
know how to control it,” Larsen said.

No matter where you are when you pull the trigger, Larsen said, “The key is to make sure where you’re shooting is safe and to be aware of where your bullets are going, absolutely all the time.”

Larsen also said safety should always be at the forefront.

“It’s paramount, it’s absolutely important.”

Safe practices can help prevent tragedies like the one on Sunday.

“It’s one thing to know how your gun functions," Larsen said. "It’s another thing to take that extra step so that you have a good time and a safe time."

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