The Importance of Taking Care of Your Shooting Spot [2024]

I shoot on public land quite often. Unless I'm going to a range for a class or a competition, I'm on public land when I'm out to practice. Well, I've grown tired of seeing these spots trashed, and wanted to talk about how you can change that.

What is Public Land?

Public land are locations set by the government, to be used for public recreational use. The term "public land" encompasses a lot of spots, from national parks, to large swaths of forest, to communal outdoor land. In the context of this article, I'm mostly speaking about communal outdoor land. These are spots designated for shooting, or other similar activities.

Depending on where you live within the US, you may have access to public land to shoot on. Out East, there isn't much, but as you get further West, there's a lot. However, there's a trend that I see when on public land. In my experience, most people do not take care of the public land that they use.

Now, the state government generally handles care of the public land. They may come in to cut grass, or smooth out dirt roads. However, it is the responsibility of the users to keep it clean.

Dirty, Dirty Land

I hate "trash shooters". When people show up and shoot trash, I think it's a waste of ammo. On top of that, they often leave garbage behind at their shoot spot. For my location, I routinely see shot up propane tanks, hard drives, chunks of metal, and more. Rather than pack the trash out, they leave it behind, turning a pleasant shooting spot into a garbage dump.

I've been a hiker and outdoorsman since I was quite young. From a young age, I had the adage of "pack it in, pack it out" drilled into my head. More people need to follow that sentiment when they go on a shooting trip. I pack my own target stands and targets out onto public land. When I'm done shooting, I pack my equipment back out, leaving nothing behind.

Now, what is fine to leave behind? Well, it depends. Some organic trash (apple cores, banana peels, etc.) generally break down fairly fast. However, if you are somewhere that it won't (cold mountain during the winter), pack it out. If you are shooting in a well known shooting spot, it's generally fine to leave brass behind. In my experience, "brass goblins" tend to come to these spots, and pick up brass so that they can reload or sell it. I tend to pick up my own brass, and would recommend doing that if you shoot in more remote public land.

Be the Change

I try to pack out garbage when I'm out on public land.

Now, this isn't all wrist slapping. What can be do to be more proactive in keeping our shooting spots clean? Well, I tend to do a "pick 5" whenever I'm out. What I do is grab 5 pieces of trash, and take them off the land with me. From there, I properly dispose of them. When out with a group, every person takes 5 pieces of garbage with them, to make a better impact.

Alternatively, I've seen proper cleanup days on some public land spots. A group of folks show up, pack up trash, and haul it out. While this might seem a bit "organized", it can be a fun and fulfilling time. For how much time I spend on my local public land, I don't mind setting aside a day just for cleanup.

I get it. It's time consuming to have to pick up garbage. However, it makes the land much better for everyone.

The Verdict

Take care of the place that you are able to shoot on. Whether it be public land or a range, cleanup after yourself. Much like putting your shopping cart back into the return, you should be picking up your trash. Just like the shopping cart, if you don't pick up your trash, you're an oxygen thief.

Additional Reading & Patreon Link

If you'd like to check out more articles in my "importance of" series, look down below.

If you'd like to support me on Patreon, I've got the link for that here. Nearly everything that I do on Primer Peak is paid for out of my own pocket, and my content is not shilled or driven by manufacturers or companies. If you decide to donate, I'd really appreciate it, as it would allow for me to continue to bring you quality work.

About Paul Whaley 194 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a Resident Evil game or listening to Warren Zevon.

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