Recreational Shooting

Target ShootingRecreational shooting activities have been enjoyed for generations and are welcomed on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Both state and federal laws apply on National Forest System (NFS) lands, so please check on the state laws and county ordinances which may apply to the area being visited. Forest visitors also need to be in compliance with any general federal laws and regulations about weapons. 

The Forest allows recreational shooting unless a specific area has been closed to the activity because it jeopardizes public safety. Information about closures is available at each Ranger District office. There are no designated recreation target shooting areas on the Forest. Please shoot responsibly, clean up after shooting to “Leave No Trace” and “Tread Lightly” on public land.

Recreational shooting can take place on the NFS lands under these conditions
(Code of Federal Regulations (title 36):

  • You are at least 150 yards from a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area.
  • You are not shooting across or on a Forest Service Road or an adjacent body of water.
  • You are not shooting into or within a cave.
  • 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.
  • You are not firing any tracer bullet or incendiary ammunition.

The Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety:

  1. Control the direction of the firearm’s muzzle. Keep the safety on and fingers off the trigger at all times until ready to shoot.
  2. Identify the target and what is beyond it before shooting. Know the identifying features of the game hunted and be absolutely certain that what you are aiming at is that game.
  3. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that only the proper size of ammunition is used in the firearm.
  5. Always unload a firearm when it is not in use, leave the actions open, and carry empty firearms in a case to and from shooting areas.
  6. Never aim a firearm at anything that you do not intend to shoot. Avoid all horseplay with a firearm.
  7. Never climb a tree or fence or jump a ditch or log, with a loaded firearm. Never pull a firearm towards you by the muzzle.
  8. Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface, or at water. Make sure backstops are adequate during target practice.
  9. Store firearms and ammunition separately and beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
  10. Avoid all alcoholic beverages and drugs before and during shooting.

Did you know?

Ricochets can cause fires. Conditions on 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. Remember, a little extra care takes only a few minutes of a person’s time and could prevent a wildfire.

Safety Tips:

  • While shooting, have a five gallon bucket of water or 2.5 pound fully charged fire extinguisher readily available to put out a fire if one starts.
  • Bring a shovel. Use the shovel to dig a trench around targets before shooting to ensure that any fire caused by sparks can be easily contained.
  • Shoot at quality steel targets designed to minimize risks to both the shooter and environment. Refrain from shooting steel targets during hot, dry, and windy conditions. 
  • Place targets on dirt or gravel areas clear of vegetation. Placing a target in dry grass increases the risk of fire.
  • Do not shoot trash and remove spent cartridges. Trash like old couches and TVs can often be found illegally dumped on public lands, but can be dangerous fire hazards when shot.
  • Be aware that all types of ammunition can start fires under the right conditions. To avoid a chance of sparking, do not use solid copper, steel-core, or steel-jacketed ammunition and always avoid shooting in rocky areas.
  • Fireworks, exploding targets, and incendiary or tracer ammo are PROHIBITED on public lands.
  • Do not smoke. Even if people are following all safety precautions in regard to shooting, they can still easily start a wildfire by smoking.
  • Park your vehicle away from dry grass. Wildfires have been started by vehicles parked in dry grass. While it may not seem like a hazard, the hot undercarriage of a car or truck can easily create enough heat to ignite the grass.