Machias, Wash - Updates and more information begin to come in regarding the alleged bullet strike. On August 24th, this column received confirmation from the Seattle Pistol & Rifle Association that the pistol and rifle ranges was indeed closed on the day of the incident, which could mean a few different things at this point, including that the bullet didn't come from the range in question.
Dear Mr. Cadle,
Thank you for your inquiry. As you are very aware, currently there is an ongoing investigation into the subject report. Until findings are in, we believe that it’s inappropriate for Seattle Rifle & Pistol Association to comment on the matter. We can however, verify that the Range Calendar is correct.
With best regards,
Seattle Rifle & Pistol Association
Having confirmed that the range was indeed closed that day for a work party, via the calendar published by the range facility does throw a wrinkle into the story. The other point brought up by the Seattle Pistol & Rifle Association is that there is an ongoing investigation. Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, as far has been confirmed through them, took a property damage report and was unable to determine where the round came from and closed the case. So the ongoing investigation is possibly an internal investigation, or one by another county agency.
Also being called into question now is the ballistics involved with a bullet traveling that far and still managed to penetrate that many layers. From reading the flyer that was distributed by the homeowner, the bullet traveled through a layer of Hardiplank concrete siding, 5/8" oriented strand board and six layers of 5/8" sheetrock and do all this while maintaining a fairly flat looking trajectory. Plugging some numbers into a ballistic calculator you will find that a 168gr 308 round will drop 64" at 500 yards, and 104" at 600 yards. This means that from where the bullet entered the home to where it came to rest there would be approximately 24" of drop. While no one knows that the round in question was at this point, a 308 would give an idea of the numbers being looked at.
The bullet would also have lost over 30% of it velocity and 65% of the muzzle energy by time it reached the home, then each wall would have slowed the bullet even further. There are several sites online that show the effect of drywall on a bullet. A thread at 230grain.com shows a standard AK47 round fired at 3 wall anaologs, the first at five feet from the muzzle. After the second wall section, the bullet loses enough velocity to destabilize, and begin to tumble, which causes what is called "keyholing" when it hits the third wall. The round that hit this house, would have traveled over 300 times the distance, lost 30% of its velocity, went through 8 layers and still maintained stability to only punch single, round holes in all of the walls in penetrated. Another article, shows the effect of bullets hitting sheetrock, and what the hole would look like from various different rounds, all fired from a distance of 15 feet.
The last ballistic problem to come up is the trees at the end of the range. From the picture above, there is a large greenbelt just past the end of the range. This would mean that a bullet would either have to travel through the trees without striking a tree or branch or to get to the house, or travel over them, which would put the trajectory on a very steep downward slope when it hit the house, and would more than likely imbed it into the floor of the home.
While there is still no definitive information that would label this a hoax, the facts in this incident are beginning to tell a different tale than the one told by the homeowner in their original flyer. What the truth is, remains to be seen.