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Those of us who like to target shoot outdoors are finding it increasingly difficult to find areas legal to do so.  Unincorporated county areas that were legal to shoot in are quickly being annexed by cities with ordinances prohibiting the discharge of firearms within city limits. However, most of us have likely found a favorite shooting spot on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, the perfect spot for an enjoyable day of target shooting safe from city ordinances.  However, even these areas are at risk of being restricted to target shooters.

Wildfire has become a “season” in many western states during the summer months. In 2003 Southern California was overcome by several wildfires in a seven week period beginning at the end of October burning over 750,000 acres, destroying 3600 homes and killing 22 people at a cost over $2.5 billion.  The majority of these fires were human-caused.

2012 was another heavy wildfire season with Colorado and Utah being especially hard hit.  Firefighting costs in Utah were recently estimated at $50 million and is likely to climb.  Again, most fires were human-caused. One Utah fire of particular interest to target shooters was “The Dump Fire.”

The Dump Fire began near a landfill south of Saratoga Springs in late June 2012.  The fire burned over 5,500 acres at a cost of $2.1 million. It resulted in the evacuation of over 2000 people in Saratoga Springs and neighboring Eagle Mountain. The fire was caused by target shooters. It was an especially hot and dry summer and a ricocheting bullet sent sparks into tall dry grass, igniting the blaze. Reports now say 20 of Utah’s wildfires this year were caused by target shooting, a fact that prompted Governor Herbert to establish shooting restrictions throughout the state and the BLM to follow suit.

A new Utah campaign to encourage responsible outdoor sportsmanship is “Respected Access is Open Access.” The campaign encourages shooters to:

  • Respect private property & posted areas
  • Don’t shoot near roads or structures
  • Use a safe, high, dirt backstop
  • Don’t shoot toward rocks or dry vegetation
  • Exploding targets, tracers, and steel-jacketed or steel-core ammo are now banned
  • Use paper, cardboard, or clay targets only
  • Don’t shoot plastic, glass or metal objects
  • Shoot over a tarp for easy cleanup of spent casings
  • Remove all targets and debris
  • Leave it better than you found it

Go to www.respectedaccess.org for more information.

We have all gone to our favorite shooting spot to see it littered with thousands of spent casing. We have even left behind what is being called “trigger trash,” such as televisions, glass, furniture, mattresses and anything else that can be used for target practice.

Continued behavior of this kind will lead to further resistance from the non-shooting public and anti-gun politicians, cause more wildfires, cost states millions of dollars and potentially cause loss of life.  If we are to preserve our access to outdoor shooting areas and our constitutional right under the second amendment to bear arms, we must become more responsible sportsmen and encourage others to do the same.

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