Target practice in National Forest

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Glenn Berryhill, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. Glenn Berryhill

    Glenn Berryhill Member

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    How many of you target practice in a National Forest? I'm sure there are some areas that will not allow it. I can shoot in the national forest near me but it's not ideal conditions. The grass/weeds are pretty high and can block my view of the target. I have not been able to find a gun range within a reasonable distance. 80+ miles is the only one I know of. I'm just curious how many others shoot in the national forest.
     
  2. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Check with your local NF headquarters for advice. It varies depending on location. In many places in western states doing so is pretty common. But it is less common in more heavily populated eastern states.
     
  3. Phantom 309
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    Phantom 309 Contributing Member

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    I do, and actually prefer heading to the hills instead of a public range. My home state is a lot more populated than it was even just 10 years ago, but I have a few favorite locations on national forest land where you can still have the place to yourself and shoot out to at least 200 yards or so in a safe manner.

    We like to head up early and make a day or even weekend out of it. We'll take an easy-up canopy and a few folding tables, lots of targets, and sometimes even a grill to make lunch (with provisions to wash up well between handling lead and preparing food, of course).

    The downside is fire risk during the summer months, when fire and shooting restrictions are a regular occurrence. During those times I'll go to a range. I will not be the fool to ignore restrictions and burn my favorite place to be.

    Here's a pic from a day trip to a relatively close spot that my coworker and I took a little while back. Target's at 100 yards here.
    20210522_161625.jpg
     
  4. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    :(
    I do. Just like I deer, elk, antelope, and used to bear hunt on National Forest land. Well, there and on BLM land.
    Most of Idaho is public land (National Forest and BLM), so it's pretty easy to find a place to shoot where the grass and weeds aren't too awfully high.:thumbup:
    However, as I've said before, my family and friend's favorite place to target practice is probably the county gravel pit about 2 miles south of our house. There's no tall grass or weeds to get in the way there. The only problem with the county gravel pit is, in a couple of months it will be full of snow, so we won't be able to go target practicing there until next spring.:(
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  5. M1key

    M1key Member

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    I live five minutes away from the Natl forest. I shoot there all the time weather/weeds permitting. In some places I can shoot out to 150 yards or more but I have to drive 15 minutes north of town.

    M
     
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  6. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    Both National Forest and BLM land for me.
    Leaving the area cleaner than you found it is key
     
  7. Boomholzer

    Boomholzer Member

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    I don't, as a routine practice venue but have. There are a few locations in NF made into unofficial ranges going on 2 decades. The amount of garbage including old CRT TVs, pallets, paper, and whatever is now disgusting. A nearby marked DNR range on NF property was gated several years ago as it became a campfire/party spot for kids. Whatever, kids not shooting. In the last two years it turned from a initial hospitality thing for hunters into something else. All the shooting benches were smashed. I assume by locals fed up with the BS. After my last several visits, I can't blame them. Its in a sand quarry but there are private cabins beyond.

    7mi away, imagine hanging out with your father in the same private place since 1987 and you duck for the familiar sound of a tumbling bullets. One hit a tree and landed at your feet across a 80 acre pond.. Find a local range.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
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  8. murf

    murf Member

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    prescott national forest is less than two miles from my house. i try my best to keep the "shootin spot" cleaned up.

    murf
     
  9. Demi-human
    • Contributing Member

    Demi-human maybe likes firearms a little bit…

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    Michigan is all forest! If you shoot here you’re seeing trees doing it!:D

    I head out to the woods to shoot. The Huron-Manistee National Forest. Where I go, there is not usually a range. I always bring containers to pack out what came in, even if it wasn’t mine.
    Finding jet skis shot up and burnt got the impromptu shooting pit to the east walled off in stumps. One can still shoot there, if they can climb. I can and don’t mind. Better to shut it down than it become a trash pit.:mad:

    The woods is great. Quiet. But a close canopy can make gunshots louder.
    Many different terrains to take practice advantage of. And the best part is doing it alone. I am not a gregarious shooter. I like range meets and group shoots and things, but it’s hard for me to relax.
    Not so out here. I love it.:)

    Come out and see your Mother! Nature!:thumbup:




    And bring a small target and small shovel for a small berm. And returned the earth how you found it, no biggie. The dirt doesn’t mind being shot, but…

    Don’t hang your targets on the trees!

    Find a natural swale to shoot into.
    Or an impenetrable swamp as a backdrop. Nobody will be walking behind those targets.

    Just don’t hang the targets on the trees!

    Ironically enough, there are sticks in the woods. Use those as a target stake.;)
    They make terrible backstops too. Lots of air believe it or not…



    There was another spot shut down with stumps, a turn around circle near to a lake access. It was a great shady spot to park for a walk around the lake. One day I see the tell tale tracks of an excavator and trucks heading out there.
    Some dink mowed the maple tree in the middle down. Now half leaning, they sensibly just shut it down than deal with the tree. Or the yahoos.

    I still shoot there too. It’s amazing what will deter some humans. If they can’t shoot from the back of their truck, they won’t stop. The old stump and dirt berm is still there, one can’t drive to the target and park in the shade now, but it’s still a good spot.
    A short dive and one hop!:)


    Have I mentioned not shooting the trees? Okay, good. Just checking.:D
     
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  10. halfmoonclip

    halfmoonclip Member

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    Unhappily, some of our brother shooters don't have the sense God gave a turnip; they just can't resist the urge to (redacted) things up. One Club range had a great plate rack; some of the shooters (members!) were determined to blast the leg off and ruin it. And they did. My indoor, home range routinely has stuff shot up that can't have been an accident.
    So, as regards shooting outdoors at an impromptu range, don't be a jerk, police your targets, don't be a bad reflection on the rest of us who are responsible.
    Moon
     
  11. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    MO conservation lands are generally no target practice. They are multiuse, horse trails, hiking, Scouts, etc. so there's good reason for it. In MO there is very little land not owned, fenced and cross fenced. What appears open range for most are old mining sites, and those have off roaders of all stripes on them. Shooting isn't compatible with motorcycles and ATV's burning up the chat.

    The closest MDC land near me, however, has a range, with pistol, shotgun and rifle. The downside is that on opening day it's crowded with shooters and it goes on all weekend. It's fenced off for safety which took a chunk out of the hunting area. I personally would prefer it would be closed during rifle season, but it has conditioned deer in the area to ignore gunfire. It goes on all the time.
     
  12. NorthBorder

    NorthBorder Member

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    We have a beautiful public range in my county and it is growing in size. I target practice there almost exclusively. But I am surrounded by national forest any direction I go and sometimes I use it to sight in, test a load, or plink a little.
    But this ^^^^^^^
     
  13. coloradokevin

    coloradokevin Member

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    I've done a lot of USFS/BLM land shooting in the past. It's getting harder and harder to do around here as our urban sprawl from Denver has made near-in places more and more crowded. The USFS has made some areas off-limits to shooting, and "actively discouraged" shooting in other areas where it is technically legal. Don't get me wrong, we still have an awful lot of forest open to shooting (usually - fire danger is sometimes used as an excuse to ban it), but some of these areas are far enough from home for me that I might as well drive to the shooting club that's 70 miles from here and has a nice 1,000 yard range.
     
  14. grampster
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    grampster Member

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    We have state forest and national forest. I've done a lot of target shooting in both over the years. The sad thing is how much trash is left behind by others. It's actually disgusting. If you can bring it in, you can bring it out...including your brass.
     
  15. Glenn Berryhill

    Glenn Berryhill Member

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    In our area, you are not allowed to take a vehicle on the forest land. You have to be at least 100 yards away from the highway to shoot. I always shoot away from the highway. Definitely will not shoot at or toward trees. There is a dirt road I walk down to get to a shooting spot. This road is used by forest employees. My only issue is avoiding shooting on or across this forest road. The weeds/grass is thick enough on and near the road but even thicker off the road. This makes it difficult to see a target. I use a brass catcher to make sure I don't leave anything behind. I don't take anything like drinks or food with me.
     
  16. borrowedtime69

    borrowedtime69 Member

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    I shoot & hunt in the national forest in CO, its about the only place along with BLM land. HOWEVER! NEVER PUT A TARGET ON ON TREES, still standing or fallen. Its a $200+ ticket for shooting wood! Fortunately I found this out from a very nice National Forest worker who let it slide with just a warning.
     
  17. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    Cherokee nat forest has some designated shooting ranges but target shooting in the rest of it is prohibited
    since i live adjacent to it, i do wind up shoot there regularly
     
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  18. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Here in Southern California we have access to a lot of National Forest, but it tends to be heavily visited and thus heavily regulated. It certainly is possible to shoot on a lot of it, but it's wise to closely check local regulations and closures before heading out. I tend to prefer BLM land for that reason - we have countless miles of desert available with nearly no visitation or regulation.
     
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  19. Skeptic13

    Skeptic13 Member

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    Before I joined a private range I would shoot in the national forest a lot. National forests abound in Colorado so it wasn't hard to find a place to go. I was always appalled at the amount of trash and garbage that some shooters leave in the woods. Everything from TVs and computer monitors to toilets and pallets. The forest service here started shutting down certain areas of national forest to shooter because how inconsiderate some shooter can be. So if you do shoot in NF please follow the rules and pack out all of your trash.
     
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  20. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    I'm lucky. I live in New Mexico and my land backs up to the National Forest so I can just walk out my back door and set up and shoot across the fence line about 200 yards into a nice pile of dirt that makes a great backstop. Since there's no roads or other access to this part of the forest other than crossing private property or hiking about 20 miles over a few very difficult mountains, I don't have to worry about other shooters or trash left behind.
     
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  21. TimRB

    TimRB Member

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    Fair enough, but why no shooting at fallen trees? I would never attach a target to a live tree, but just offhand can't see the harm in using a fallen or standing dead tree as a backstop. I guess if you're not supposed to do it, I won't anymore, but it would be good to know the reason.

    Tim
     
  22. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    I do and use several BLM shooting areas that are well established for 25/50/100 yards and 300/600 yards.

    Since more and more people seem to be buying land close to BLM land (Off grid living, gold mining, etc.) if you contact local Sheriff/Forestry office, they will be happy to show you where BLM land boundaries are (They are clearly marked with boundary markers right off the trail/dirt roads) so you don't shoot towards people's habitat even though they look like regular "forest" from distance, even with binoculars/spotting scope.

    I was shooting at my usual BLM shooting spot about 20 miles east of Hwy 101 up into the mountains few years ago and a car drove out of the trees and approached me. A man and his son said his family just bought some property right up to the BLM boundary lines and my bullets were cracking overhead where the children were playing. I showed him the BLM boundary marker and pointed out I was clearly shooting INTO BLM land but as a father of two grown children myself, I understood man's concern. I told him I would shoot AWAY from his property and would spread the word to other shooters.

    We had a nice chat and even allowed him and his son to shoot my guns. They even helped me pick up brass for reloading.

    In northern coastal counties of CA, wood burning for heating is common and many pull permits to log downed trees. If embedded copper jacketed bullets come in contact with chainsaw ... some choice four letter words will be uttered. :cuss:
     
  23. old lady new shooter

    old lady new shooter Member

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    One indoor range near me fines shooters for shots that go anywhere but the paper target.
     
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  24. Juiceking

    Juiceking Member

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    I also live in NM and given the choice prefer BLM land. Typically less regulation and ppl and you can drive to where you shoot. A lot of forest service can have vehicle restrictions.

    Not to be a nervous nelly but always pay attention to your background and what you have for a backstop. The pic with the guy under canopy with 100 yard targets looks unsafe to me. If you zoom in it appears as if the ground drops down. I prefer on obvious hill or something substantial to gurantee no long fliers. It is just a pic and hard to tell if im interpreting correctly. Not trying to judge just reminder to be aware of background.

    I almost never shoot at established range and ive seen all kinds of yahoos around and near where i shoot. For my spot you have to take a 2track that drops into canyon. Well for some reason sometimes ppl like to shoot on top instead of dropping into canyon.

    So one day headed out to my spot and i can hear them before i can see them. Once they come into view their lifted truck is parked perpendicular to 2track on left side. They're setup on the driver side which is on opposite side from me as i approach and theyre shooting across the 2 track with maybe a 5ft tall backstop. They had no idea i was there. I had to stop and honk horn several times before they walked around there truck to see me. Straight up ding dongs.

    Have fun Be safe.
     
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  25. cpoakes

    cpoakes Member

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    I started shooting again specifically because there are NFS locations near my home in southern Arizona. I can make a day of plinking or target shooting with friends. If I was restricted to shooting at an organized range, my collection of firearms would be much smaller and I'd buy a hell of a lot less ammo.
     
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