Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trash Shooters on Public Lands

Jed at Freedom Sight discusses a free shooting range that may be shut down soon. Is it because anti-gunnies rallying against it? No, in this case, “We have met the enemy and he is us” (Walt Kelly in his comic strip Pogo). Trash shooters are causing the potential shut-down.

The United States Forest Service runs a range in Pike National Forest. The Forest Service receives monies under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Part of act mandated the provision of “free” target shooting ranges. Every gunnie pays for this range thanks to an 11% tax on ammunition, sporting arms, and archery equipment. There is also a 10% tax on handguns.

Trash shooters come to the range and leaving everything from used targets to kitchen appliances. Volunteers have tried to keep the range looking halfway decent, but haven’t been able to keep up. Forest Service officials are looking at closing it unless a private operator can take it over.

Jed points to other public lands that he’s seen trashed. He counsels us to clean up after ourselves or better yet, take out more trash than we take in. Good advice.

I have some experience shooting at a Forest Service range; one set up in Florida in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, Florida. I shot there in the mid-1980s, so my memory may play a trick or two.

The Forest Service had done a good job with it. There was a covered shooting area with about ten stations with a long shooting counter. Target frames, made of 2x4s, were set in notches cast in concrete lanes that ran parallel to the shooting area and were spaced about 10, 25, 50, and 100 yards. There was a picnic table and an enclosed latrine with a fiberglass “toilet.”

The range was clean and in decent repair and I believe it’s still there because it is shown on on this map (warning pdf).

What bugged me though is some people couldn’t resist shooting stuff other than the targets. There were holes in the shooting areas roof, in the picnic table. People even shot up the toilet. What skill is there involved with hitting a toilet?

I remember seeing a sign at the range that warned that the Forest Service might close the range if people didn’t keep their bullets down range. They pointed out there were several forest roads and hiking trails near by. The bullet holes in the sign were testimony to its effectiveness.

I love to plink, but I always clean up after myself. There may be some gun owners who’ll think I’m a nag if I suggest that they do the same thing. A small minority of trash shooters could well close public lands to all shooters.

So, I’m going to be a nag. If you’re a trash shooter, STOP it. If you don’t know you’re a trash shooter, take this simple quiz:
*Do you shoot everything that doesn’t move in a 360 circle around you regardless of common sense?
*Do you shoot at junk that you bring with you, but don’t clean up before you leave?
*Do you shoot up road, safety, information, other signs or public property?
*Do you shoot toilets that don’t belong to you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, reform or hang up your guns before you ruin shooting for the rest of us.

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