Target shooters asked to be wary in wildlands | RecordCourier.com

Target shooters asked to be wary in wildlands

Staff Reports

It has only been three weeks since the last rain fell in Western Nevada, but vegetation has already dried sufficiently that a spark can set it off.

Two wildfires were ignited by target shooters last week, including a 4.6-acre fire at Golden Eagle Park in Reno on Sunday.

"Awareness that wildfires can occur from shooting is the most important thing," said Bureau of Land Management Fire Management Officer Dennis Strange. "If people are aware it can happen, we hope they will make safer choices."

The BLM and Bureau of Indian Affairs are asking visitors to be aware of the risk of starting a wildfire when target shooting.

Numerous wildfires have been started by target shooting in past years in western states including Nevada, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington, according to the BLM. Many of those fires could have been prevented or stopped had the shooters been properly prepared. It is also important to refrain from target shooting during hot, dry and windy conditions.

Anyone responsible for starting a fire while target shooting could be held liable for paying suppression costs occurred to fight the fire. Anyone who causes a fire and leaves the scene without reporting the fire could be charged criminally.

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"Everyone is encouraged to safely enjoy the public lands, bearing in mind that human-caused fires annually threaten human life, private property and public land resources," Strange said. "Please be part of the solution by shooting safely."

Safety tips to prevent wildfires while target shooting:

Don’t use incendiary or tracer ammo – Incendiary and tracer ammo are always prohibited on public lands.

Place your targets on dirt or gravel areas clear of vegetation and avoid shooting into rocky areas. Placing a target in dry grass increases the risk of fire.

Be aware that all types of ammunition can start fires under the right conditions especially steel core ammunition. To avoid a chance of sparking, do not use steel core ammunition and always avoid shooting in rocky areas. Steel core ammunition is prohibited under a fire prevention order on public lands https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch-beta/pubs/43918

Bring a container of water. This may seem obvious, but shooters often fail to bring enough water to put a fire out. A five gallon bucket of water readily available while shooting could prevent a disaster if a fire does start.

Bring a shovel. Use the shovel to dig a trench around your 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 the environment. For steel targets to be functional and safe, they should be made of high quality through hardened steel that has a Brinell hardness number of at least 500. Refrain from shooting steel targets during hot, dry and windy conditions.

Don’t shoot trash. Trash like old couches and TVs can often be found illegally dumped on public land but can be dangerous fire hazards when shot.

Remove all spent cartridges.

Be cautious with smoking. Even if you’re following all safety precautions in regard to shooting, you can still easily start a wildfire by smoking. If you’re shooting in a dry location, make sure that all cigarette butts are properly extinguished or avoid smoking at all.

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.

Please shoot responsibly, clean up after shooting and “Tread Lightly” on public land.