Target Shooting

Recreational shooting is a popular activity on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland. For those looking to dispersed shoot on the Forests and Grassland, please ensure you are familiar with all the rules and regulations to do so in a safe and responsible manner. Some areas are closed for safety concerns. For those looking to recreationally shoot in a developed site, please find more information below on the two developed locations. Baker Draw is currently open and Devil's Nose is expected to open by fall of 2024. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also maintains a list of shooting ranges across the state for public use. 

Know the four fundamental rules of firearm safety:

  1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you do not intend to shoot.
  3. Keep your finger off of the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot.
  4. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond.
Did you know?

Ricochets can cause fires. Conditions in the forest can be dry at any time of year. When shooting firearms, please take safety precautions and be mindful that hot projectiles and sparks from ricochets can ignite fires in dry, grassy, brushy fuels.

Federal Rules

According to the Code of Federal Regulations (title 36), recreational shooting can take place on the National Forests and Grasslands under these conditions:

  1. You are at least 150 yards from a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area.
  2. You are not shooting across or on a National Forest System Road or an adjacent body of water.
  3. You are not shooting into or within a cave.
  4. You are not shooting in any manner or place where any person, property or resource is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge.
  5. You are not firing any tracer bullet or incendiary ammunition.

Regional Restrictions

Local Restrictions

For safety reasonssome areas have been closed to discharging a firearm. These restrictions are in place in addition to the Code of Federal Regulations. These closures do not apply to legal hunting activities.

The Forest is also in the process of implementing its 2019 Recreational Sport Shooting Decision. Additional Closures are expected as developed shooting ranges open up in identified geographic areas as an alternative to unsuitable dispersed areas. These new closures are anticipated to begin late summer/early fall 2024.

Boulder Ranger District  (National Forest System lands near Boulder, Nederland & Allenspark)

See a consolidated map of shooting closures on the Boulder Ranger District.

  • Brainard Lake Recreational Area
  • Former Allenspark Dump
  • South Nederland Closure
  • Flood Related Shooting Closure - James Canyon, Lefthand Canyon, Mount Alto, and Sugarloaf Mountain
  • Lefthand Slot Canyon Closure
  • Lefthand Entrance Closure

Canyon Lakes Ranger District (National Forest System lands near Loveland, Fort Collins, Estes Park & Redfeather Lakes)

  • Buckhorn Road
  • Stove Prairie Road
  • Big Elk Meadows Road
  • Christy Meadows
  • Greyrock Trail

Clear Creek Ranger District  (National Forest System lands near Idaho Springs & Georgetown)

  • Barbour Forks Trailhead Area
  • Beaver Brook Trailhead Area

Pawnee National Grassland (National Grassland System lands near Ault, Nunn & Greeley)

South of County Road 96 and West of County Road 63. The closure is located in Township 8 North, Range 63 West, Section 7.

Area showing where shooting closure applies and where restricted area is at Baker Draw

Please note: The area along County Road 61 is closed to recreational shooting due to the lack of safe backstops. 

Sulphur Ranger District (National Forest System Lands near Sulphur Springs)

No specific closures outside the regular Code of Federal Regulation restrictions are currently in place on the Sulphur Ranger District.

Local Targets and Alcohol Regulations

  • You may only shoot targets that are:
    • cardboard,
    • paper,
    • self-healing,
    • manufactured metallic  (metal targets specifically designed for firearms),
    • or manufactured thrown-type clay (clay pigeons)
  • Wooden backing on targets is not allowed.
  • You may not possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while discharging a firearm.  See shooting restrictions and area closures for details.
  • You may not use an explosive, including exploding targets.

Know Before You Go

Check out this sport shooting safety video series. This five-video series was created to help new and experienced target shooters have a safe and successful experience on public lands.