It is the policy of the Bureau of Land Management to allow the safe use of firearms on public lands as long as such activity is permitted by federal, state, and local laws. On public lands in Arizona there are no designated target shooting sites managed by the BLM. Shooting is strictly prohibited in some areas due to high public use and resource concerns. Prohibited areas include all developed recreation sites and other areas where posted. Specific areas are listed below. You are generally allowed to target shoot on all other BLM managed public lands, as long as you clean up your targets, shell casings, and trash.
It is illegal to shoot (or place targets) on trees, signs, outbuildings, or other objects on federal lands that are for the public's enjoyment or use. It is also imperative to follow all state laws and county ordinances concerning the safe and legal use of weapons and ammunition. The National BLM regulations are listed below; however, each local area may have additional requirements. The shooter has the responsibility to know applicable laws and to use firearms in a safe manner. For the most accurate information, please contact the managing BLM field office with any questions you may have regarding target shooting on the public lands.
National BLM Target Shooting Regulations:
Shooting and possession of firearms is allowed on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management provided that the specific shooting activity involved:
- Does not create a public hazard, public nuisance or direct threat to public safety and use. (paraphrased from Title 43 CFR Sec. 8365.1-4.)
- Does not damage or destroy natural features, native plants, cultural resources, historic structures or government and/or private property. (paraphrased from Title 43 CFR Sec. 8365.1-5)
- Does not facilitate and create a condition of littering, refuse accumulation and abandoned personal property. (paraphrased from Title 43 CFR Sec. 8365.1-1)
- Does not violate an existing use restriction, closure order or supplementary rules notice. (paraphrased from Title 43 CFR Sec. 8365.1-6)
Things to consider when selecting a location…
- Proper access to public lands must be through public roads. Crossing private lands to access public lands is not permitted unless you first obtain permission from the private landowner.
- Check with local sheriff or land management agencies before using an area for shooting. Private and state lands are located adjacent to many public lands. Do not shoot on private lands without the owner's permission. Shooting is not permitted in state parks or state trust land.
- Know your target and what is beyond it. Shots fired across the open desert can travel for more than a mile. Find a safe backdrop. A spot with a large mound, hill, or cliff directly behind the target is ideal.
- Firearms must not be discharged within 150 yards of residences, buildings, campsites, occupied areas, recreational areas or domestic livestock.
- Shooting across a road, trail, or wash is not permitted.
- Shooting should only take place in areas well away from other concentrations of people and property.
- Shooting from a vehicle is not permitted.
- When driving to your target shooting location, stay on designated routes. Cross-country travel is not permitted outside of OHV open area boundaries.
How Do YOU Shoot?
... or Irresponsibly
When shooting on public lands….
- Use the correct ammunition for your firearm and wear the appropriate eye and ear protection devices.
- Shoot only retrievable, freestanding targets.
- Shooting glass objects, electronic waste and items that may contain hazardous materials (i.e. Freon, propane, etc.) is prohibited.
- Do not attach targets to living plants or attach targets to rocks, plants, or solid objects. It is illegal to deface or destroy trees, signs, outbuildings, or other objects on federal lands that are for the public's enjoyment. (paraphrased from CFR 8365.1-5 (a) (1) & (2))
- Always pick up and remove targets, empty shells, and any other shrapnel or debris before you leave.
- Do not act in an aggressive or threatening manner towards other public land users.
- Avoid being under the influence of alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs while shooting.
BLM areas closed to target shooting:
Due to high fire danger, wildlife management, safety concerns, and litter problems, several areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management are closed to target shooting. These areas include:
The Bureau of Land Management has color-coded 1:100,000 scale Surface Management maps available displaying public and private land ownership, roads, water features, points of interest and other topographic information. The maps do not display specific shooting sites, but can provide guidance to those seeking appropriate public lands for target shooting. The maps may be purchased from the Arizona State Office and at the various field offices. Each map is $4.
The BLM encourages the use of designated shooting areas for the best resource protection and to reduce litter and firearm shrapnel. A list of designated sites and a map is provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department are linked to the right.