Recreational Shooting and Firearms Regulations

Target shooting on national forest lands is permitted unless a specific area has been closed for public safety. Please ensure that you have a safe backdrop and take safety precautions before you engage in this activity. Review information about active closures, and contact your nearest district office for more information.

To carry a weapon in a concealed manner, requires a concealed-carry permit some exceptions may apply.

It is unlawful to discharge a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun or other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property as follows:

  1. In or within 150 yards (450 feet) of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area;
  2. Across or on a National Forest System road or bodies of water, or where people or property are exposed to injury or damage;
  3. Into or within any cave.

36 CFR 261.10(d) ($250 FINE)

It is prohibited to discharge a firearm into an area or manner that cause resource damage. Don’t shoot trees, rocks, stumps, or non-game animals.

Responsible Target Shooting

When target shooting is done in the right way, it poses little threat to people’s safety or natural resources. However, careless, unsafe shooting can cause great resource damage and pose serious threats to human life: both to forest staff and visitors. In addition, trash associated with target shooting has reached epidemic levels on the Gila National Forest. Pick up your shell casings! Leaving your shooting debris is a violation of 36CFR 261.11.

Firearm Safety Best Practices

To ensure your safety and the safety of others, please adhere to the following universal guidelines:

  • All firearms should always be considered loaded
  • Never point the muzzle of your gun at anything you are not intending to shoot or destroy
  • Keep your finger off the trigger and your safety on until you are on target
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond your target to prevent endangering any person or property
  • Before discharging your firearm scout out the area for other people that may be recreating near you
  • Only shoot in an area with a safe backstop - preferably an earthen mound
  • Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use
  • Use correct ammunition
  • Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting
  • See also: National Rifle Association gun safety information.

Alert: Most National Parks do not allow firearms, visitors should check with the National Park they plan to visit for more information.