With summer nearing, people are getting out and getting active. Things like hiking, biking and running are popular activities on public lands, but recently shooters have been getting some attention for leaving their mark.
Now there’s nothing illegal about shooting on public lands but there are some things you need to know to keep yourself and others safe.
“Disbursed shooting is acceptable and we do ask that people do it in an appropriate manner,” Lori Bell, a District Ranger for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said.
“Making sure that there’s nobody else around, in the direction that they’re shooting” is one of the points Bell emphasized.
“Another thing is their targets. So when they come out to shoot, they should have a backstop, something that’s going to stop the bullet,” Bell said. “And they should have an appropriate target.”
It’s these things that make the nearby Lead Draw area so popular for shooters.
Less than 20 miles from Pocatello, the trailhead is decently secluded and pretty wide open. But recently, shooters have been making a big mess there.
“Just about three weeks ago, we hauled out seven pickup loads loaded with shooting debris and trash,” Bell said. “So it was targets and shells.”
The debris can be found all over the path since there are no designated shooting areas.
“They’re responsible for finding an area to shoot that is safe, so it’s a judgement call on their part. But that’s why we tell them you need to find a good place that has a good backstop,” she explained.
It’s the shooters responsibility to not only make sure the bullet stops, but also to be aware of things that may have entered their shooting area.
“They just need to know that sometimes the environment that they started in is changing, and there’s a hiker coming across a trail or there’s a cow that’s meandering into behind their target.”
There’s a distinct possibility of that happening in Lead Draw since the trail is a designated grazing area. Still, Bell said incidents of that sort are rare and that trash is the biggest problem.
“Shooting is a legitimate sporting activity on the National Forest System lands and as long as it’s done in a safe manner and the litter is picked up I think it can coexist with other uses,” Bell said.
Bell added that it’s also very important for shooters to bring their own targets since it is completely unacceptable for shooters to take aim at the Forest Service’s signs and fences.