You’re familiar with the NRA’s rules for safe gun handling (ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction; ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use). But there’s even more that you can do to be safe and ensure that you and shooters nationwide remain welcome in the outdoors. Here are nine tips brought to you courtesy of the nonprofit organization Tread Lightly! as part of their campaign called Respected Access is Open Access.
1. Don't just pick a likely place and start shooting, even if you've done it before or know people who have. Double-check to ensure you're target shooting only on lands open to shooting.
2. Don't shoot at trees, cacti, rocks, etc. Use only appropriate targets. Shooting at trees and other natural objects is illegal and leaves a negative image about shooters.
3. Don't shoot unless you're sure of your backstop. Only shoot where there is a good backstop to stop your bullets.
4. Don't vandalize. Shooting at signs, kiosks, trash containers, buildings and other property is illegal.
5. Don't litter. Be sure to pack out your trash including food wrappings, shotgun shells, brass or steel cases, fragmented clay pigeons and other targets. Be a thoughtful shooter, and pick up litter and target trash left by others.
6. Don't let people think you're a litterer. Do not shoot household appliances or other objects dumped in shooting areas. It is misconstrued that shooters are the dumpers.
7. Don't shoot where people might be, or where you can't see. Shooting across roads, trails, waterways or into caves or rocky areas is unsafe. Be sure you see your target clearly and you know what lies between you, the target and beyond.
8. Don't shoot even close to where people might be. Shoot away from developed recreation sites such as campgrounds, trailheads, parking areas and boat ramps.
9. Don't damage delicate natural areas with your vehicle. Travel on designated routes. Avoid traveling in sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams.