Bowling Pin Bullet Deflection Testing
Michael Jones & Dan Wylie of the Douglas Ridge Rifle Club in Gresham, Oregon, where we are having a "Speedpins" Pinshoot on March 11th., set up some bowling pins and cardboard to gather some data on bullet deflection.
This is the first time that I am aware of that this sort of study has been done with bowling pins, and it's some good information to know. Although this is not a lot of data, it's enough to get a feel for how bullets react to bowling pins, and vice-versa. Bullets will definitely change direction to some extent when impact is to the sides of the bowling pin. The more the angular deflection, the more energy has been "removed" from the bullet, and the shorter distance it will travel.
As this data shows, and we had suspected all along, a bowling pin on it's side, combined with an impact point near the upper edge of the pin could lead to a bullet impacting in the ceiling of an indoor range, particularly if the ceiling is relatively low, or the pin is a long ways from the backstop.
I would predict that a bullet impact at the very top of an upright pin would not encounter sufficient mass to cause much deflection, and should not be a problem.
For this reason, the pin tables for "Speedpins" matches are made narrow enough that a pin on its side cannot stay on the table . If knocked over, it will roll off.
Here's the data:
.45 ACP -- Colt Combat Commander
FMJ at 30':
#1 deflected to 10 o'clock
#2 stayed in pin
#3 went through pin 1" & out at 11 o,clock
#4 deflected off nect to 12:30
#5 stayed in pin
#6 head shot stayed in pin
HP at 21':
#1 deflected 1 o'clock
#2 stayed in pin
#3 deflected to 12:30 off neck
FMJ at 21':
#1 deflected to 2:30 low
#2 deflected to 9:30 low
#3 deflected to 10 o'clock high
#4 deflected to 12:30 high