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Shooting Sports



Shooting sports activities have been enjoyed for generations and are welcomed on National Forest System lands.


Both state and federal laws apply on National Forest System lands, so you also need to check on the state laws and county ordinances which may apply to the area you will be visiting.   You also need to be in compliance with any general federal laws and regulations about weapons (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), etc).   The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) and many commercial publications provide this information. 


The only regulations specific to use of weapons imposed by the Forest Service is that you cannot discharge a weapon within 150 yards of any structure/development or occupied area, within or into a cave, across or on a road or body of water, or in any manner that endangers a person.   You also cannot use any tracer or incendiary ammunition.  Forest Service regulations require that you also comply with all State laws regarding the use of firearms while hunting. 


If you are planning on visiting a designated Wilderness Area, the Regional Forester or Forest Supervisor has the option to implement a special local order which additionally prohibits the mere possession of a firearm within that Wilderness Area.   Although this prohibition is not common, you should contact the Forest Supervisor's office to find out whether such a restriction has been imposed. 


We encourage you to use designated shooting areas or ranges.  However, if you choose to shoot in an undesignated area,  please ensure that your shooting does not damage any facilities or natural resources, disrupt other uses, or endanger public safety, and ensure you remove any targets, wads, shells, brass and other refuse with you when you leave.  Be sure your shooting target area is free of rocks, as wildfires have resulting from sparks from ricochets.  Be responsible for your action and follow outdoor ethics, in other words always, Leave No Trace  and Tread Lightly! on federal lands. 


It is also a good idea regardless, just to contact the local Forest Service District or Forest Offices in advance of your visit to ask the same question, as they are more aware of local ranges and other opportunities, local orders or restrictions, issues and special conditions that may affect you.  


Enjoy your visit to our National Forests.


Jamie Schwartz, Shooting Sports Liaison, USDA Forest Service


US Forest Service
Last modified March 28, 2013

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