Event coverage by Holly Shanks
A small group gathered at Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center recently to explore the basic techniques of shotgun shell reloading. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) seminar, led by Bob Campbell and Len Patton, offered a hands-on learning experience. Both men have been reloading for decades and have extensive first-hand knowledge of procedures and best practices.
Lead safety procedures were included in the seminar. Also, how the MDC handles toxic lead clean-up at Jay Henges Shooting Range are included in the story. See more of the story below.
Campbell and Patton stressed the importance of safety and consistency. Anyone reloading shells should stay cautious because they are dealing with gunpowder, percussion caps, projectiles and sometimes toxic materials. Also discussed was the importance of safety procedures while working with lead, a toxic material. The MDC continually works to keep areas, like the Jay Henges Shooting Range, free from toxic lead contamination.
“The goal of reloading is to create shells as close as possible to factory loads,” Campbell and Patton said. This allows for reliable shells and the confidence to know each shot will perform the same. Each load should always follow the factory “recipe” found in reloading guides. The pre-planned measurements found in reloading recipes are important because it can keep a person from being injured by not “blowing yourself up.”
Part of the safety procedures explained included following protective efforts when dealing with lead shot. When reloading with lead, a person must be careful because lead is a toxic material and can cause serious health issues with long-term exposure. While reloading, don’t touch the facial area and follow hand and face washing guidelines after handling lead.
Wash hands with soap and cold water. Then immediately wash hands a second time with soap and warm water. Also, after shooting wash the face area thoroughly as well. Lead cleansing wipes can also be used.
Wearing a mask over the nose and mouth while pouring gunpowder or lead shot helps to minimize exposures. And before reloading, always be sure hands are clean, dry, and free of any oils. Don’t eat or drink while reloading or have in the working area.
There are many different types of shot pellets. All waterfowl hunting loads must contain only non-toxic materials. The shot can consist of materials, such as steel shot, nickel or copper plated shot, and of course, the lead shot that can be used in reloading. However, the different types of shot materials cannot be mixed together. Different sized shot pellets can be mixed inside a load if made of the same material.
Wondering what happens to lead shot build-up and contamination after years of use at a shooting range, like Jay Henges?
Bob Campbell, who has been with the MDC for well over a decade, works at the Jay Henges range and is a certified firearm instructor. He is also certified for environmental lead clean up.
Once a quarter, Campbell dons full protective gear and heads out to the rifle range to collect and clear the toxic material from the designated area. The MDC also clears the shotgun portion of the range every few years by having a company come in and reclaim the lead from the shotgun field area. The efforts of the MDC keeps the area free from the environmentally damaging toxic material and safe for use.
For more information about seminars or classes at the MDC Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center CLICK HERE or call 636-938-9548.