Alerts & Notices

Guide to Firearms Use on the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests

The possession and use of firearms on the forest is governed by state and federal law. In the event that state law contradicts federal law, federal law takes precedence over state law on the federal property to which it applies. State law does apply in national forests when there is no contradiction with federal law.

Management of federal property under the jurisdiction of different federal agencies may follow different laws and regulations pertaining to firearms. Consequently, while guns are prohibited in recreation areas managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,  guns are not prohibited in national forests, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and national parks, managed by the National Park Service.

However, some activities are prohibited in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. While every eventuality cannot be addressed, the following is an overview of these laws as they affect the two national forests in Georgia.

Target Shooting

While we encourage persons participating in target shooting to practice on the national forests’ target ranges, it is possible to target shoot in areas of the forest (outside of shooting ranges) with some restrictions.

The following are prohibited on the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forest.

  1. Discharging a firearm within 50 yards of an open public road as well as on or across a forest system road.
  2. Discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, or occupied area.
  3. Discharging a firearm on or across a body of water except when engaged in legal hunting, such as duck hunting.
  4. Discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle.
  5. Discharging a firearm into or within a cave.
  6. Discharging a firearm in a manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage (provide for safe bullet impact area).
  7. Transporting a loaded long gun in a motor vehicle.
  8. Possession of a firearm in any Federal building or facility (prohibited even with a state concealed carry permit) {18 USC 930}.
  9. Littering (remove all trash including targets and spent shell casings)

In addition to the above mentioned laws and regulations, the carrying of a firearm on your person is governed primarily by state law.  These laws can be viewed in the online version of the Georgia Code. Expand Title 16---Chapter 11---Article 4---Parts 1, 2, & 3


Photo of the Sumac Creek Shooting Range

Shooting ranges on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide hunters and sportsmen the opportunity to hone their skills.  There are three shooting ranges on the Chattahoochee National Forest: the Chestnut Mountain, Sumac Creek, and the Darnell ranges. The Oconee National Forest includes the modern Cedar Creek Range. 


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, 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.

Learn more about hunter education from the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division: