Palm Springs- South Coast Field Office

Target Shooting and Hunting Information

The Bureau of Land Management manages public land for present and future generations.  Recreational target shooting and hunting are activities that many members of the public enjoy.  With expanding populations and increasing fire danger, safe and appropriate land for these activities can be hard to find.  Additionally, careless behavior by others in the past has caused fires, loss of life, and closures of areas.  The best way to ensure continued access to the remaining shooting locations is to be safe, be careful, be considerate and respectful of the land and of other people, and encourage other shooters and hunters to do the same.


Can I shoot on BLM-managed land in California?
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), California, allows the use of firearms on public lands as provided for in the California state law.  BLM cooperates with state authorities in the enforcement of firearms regulations.  You may possess and use lawfully registered weapons on BLM-administered land except when prohibited by other applicable laws and regulations (see Special Areas, below). 

What firearms can I use for shooting on BLM lands?

The BLM adheres to the guidelines issued by the State of California Department of Justice regarding the types of weapons allowed for use on public lands.  Many assault-type weapons are banned in the State of California.  For information on California firearms laws and policies, please visit the Firearms Division, California Department of Justice web site.

Do I need a permit to target shoot on BLM lands?

No, BLM does not require you to obtain a permit from BLM to target shoot on BLM lands.

I want to shoot in a safe and responsible manner.  What should I keep in mind?

To get to your shooting location, stay on designated routes.  Cross-country travel is not permitted outside of OHV Open Area boundaries, and the Palm Springs – South Coast Field Office has no OHV Open Areas within its jurisdiction.

You may also want to check with local sheriff and / or other land management agencies before using a BLM area for shooting.  Private and state lands are located adjacent to many public lands.

When target shooting or hunting, safe and prudent actions should be followed at all times.  Be aware of other public land visitors who may be visiting the same areas for other recreational uses, such as camping, hiking, biking, and rock-hounding.

Do not shoot within 150 yards of any man-made structure, including but not limited to residences, buildings, campsites, occupied areas, recreational areas or domestic livestock.  (This has recently been revised to 300 yards for locations in Riverside County).  Shoot only in areas well away from other concentrations of people and property.  Avoid popular recreation areas and sensitive wildlife habitats.

When shooting, always select a safe location with a large, solid backstop.  Bullets fired across the open desert can travel for more than a mile.  An area with a hillside directly behind the target is ideal, but avoid shooting into a hillside consisting of extremely rocky terrain that can cause ricochets, which can easily ignite brushfires.

Shoot only retrievable, freestanding targets.  Please use paper targets only.  Do not use glass bottles, appliances, and other refuse as targets.  Shooting glass objects, electronic waste and any items that may contain hazardous materials (i.e. Freon, propane, etc.) is prohibited.  Exploding targets are prohibited.

Do not use plastic pellets, tracer rounds, exploding rounds, steel-core rounds or jacketed ammunition on BLM-managed lands.

Do not attach targets to plants or place targets up against 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. CFR 8365.1-5 (a) (1) & (2)

When you are finished, you must remove all of your targets, gun shells, etc.  We recommend that you do not use clay pigeons as targets, as you can be cited for littering if you leave any debris.  Even the so-called “biodegradable” clay targets remain indefinitely in the dry, fragile landscape of the desert, and their presence constitutes a visual impact on the landscape that can infringe on the enjoyment of the outdoors for other recreationalists.  If you choose to use clay pigeons, be prepared to clean up all fragments large enough to see with normal vision, as well as other litter into which the clay fragments may fall.   (See Rules and Regulations Section, below, for more information.)

Where may I not shoot while on BLM lands?

Do not shoot from or on a public road or highway, or from a motor vehicle.  Do not shoot in the direction of any road, hiking trail or parking area.  Do not shoot across a road, trail, or wash.

Shooting is prohibited:
  • within one mile of all campgrounds and developed recreation sites;
  • within 150 yards (300 yards within Riverside County) of any man-made structure, home, barn, outbuilding, motor home, camper, or any inhabited area;
  • or within 100 yards of any roadway.  Since it is prohibited to drive that far off existing roads, you must be prepared to safely hike to your chosen shooting location.

Do not shoot on private lands without the owner's permission.  To utilize private lands, you must obtain and carry with you the private landowner's written, date-specific permission authorizing you to be there at that time.

Shooting is not permitted in State Parks.

During Fire Season, some areas may be closed to target shooting.  We post closure information on this website.

How do I get to BLM lands where I can shoot?

Access to public lands must be on public roads.  Crossing private lands to access public land is not permitted, unless you obtain and carry written, date-specific permission from the private landowner.  The maps that the BLM sells, called Surface Management Status maps (see information about maps, below), may help you in locating public (Federal) lands.  Not all Federal parcels have public access.  Adjacent private property owners are within their legal rights to prevent people from crossing their land to get to the public land.

Vehicles are restricted to designated routes of travel as posted and as shown on BLM maps (see information about maps, below).  Vehicles are prohibited in all wilderness areas.  You may have to hike from your vehicle to a suitable and safe shooting location; be prepared to hike safely with your firearms and equipment.

How do I know when I’m on BLM lands?

Often, the boundaries of the Federal lands are not marked, making it difficult to know when you are actually on the Federal lands.  This makes inadvertent trespass onto private lands rather easy.  To help you know when you are on BLM lands, the BLM sells Surface Management Status maps (in the desert regions, these maps are also called Desert Access Guides, or DAG maps). 

These maps are 1:100,000 scale maps.   Each map shows color-coded public and private land ownership, roads, water features, points of interest and some topographic information, so that you can make sure you are not on privately owned lands.  View an index of the maps.  You may order them by phone from the State Office Public Room in Sacramento, (916) 978-4401; they are also for sale in the California Desert District office in Moreno Valley, and in each of the Field Offices.

Are there maps I can get to show me where on BLM lands I can shoot?

The BLM Surface Management Status maps and DAG maps do not show specific areas for hunting or target shooting.  Use your BLM maps to locate and evaluate potential BLM areas for their suitability as shooting locations, keeping in mind the requirements for being far enough away from campgrounds, developed recreation sites, man-made structures such as homes, barns, outbuildings, or any other inhabited areas; and not within 100 yards of any roadway.

Once you have selected a possible location, and prior to your trip, check with the BLM office having jurisdiction over that area for current conditions, regulations, fire hazard closures and other information:

Where can I go to target shoot on BLM lands near Los Angeles or Orange County?

Unfortunately, due to the density of population in these areas, as well as the lack of BLM land that is both accessible and suitable for recreational target shooting, there are no locations on BLM lands near the greater Los Angeles area or the Orange County area we can recommend.  For target shooting on BLM lands you will have to travel out toward the desert, either toward Barstow or the desert cities such as Palm Desert.

Where can I go to target shoot near Temecula?

Again, there are no shooting areas on BLM lands close to Temecula.  The closest shooting area to Temecula was shut down several years ago due to the actions of reckless and/irresponsible shooters.  The remaining public lands in the Temecula area are too small to safely accommodate recreational shooting, especially by shooters using handguns and rifles.


Can I hunt on BLM lands?

Hunting on BLM lands is regulated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  State of California hunting regulations must be followed on BLM-managed lands; learn more about these regulations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  They also control the rules, regulations, and seasons, and it is the hunter’s responsibility to verify and comply with proper species, seasons, zones, regulations, and legal location when hunting on the public lands.  California's hunting seasons, bag limits, and the permitted hunting methods are contained in booklets published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Do I need a permit to hunt on BLM lands?

You must have a valid California hunting license to hunt any game or wildlife, even on BLM lands.  However, BLM does not require you to obtain a permit from BLM to hunt on BLM lands.

What game can I hunt on BLM lands?

All California game species are regulated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  As a responsible hunter, you are expected to be familiar with the game species you are hunting as well as with the wildlife that you are not permitted to shoot (birds of prey, non-game birds, etc.).  The BLM manages land, but does not maintain information on game species populations; we can't provide you information as to the best locations to hunt your specific game.

Can I get BLM maps that show me where to hunt?

BLM does not have hunting maps.  Hunting maps may be obtained from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, sporting goods stores and gun shops.  Use your hunting zone maps in conjunction with your BLM maps (see information about the BLM Surface Management Status maps, above) to see where BLM land is located within the hunting zones.

You are responsible to know the boundaries of private lands that are located adjacent to any public lands.  If you wish to hunt or shoot on private lands you must obtain and carry written, date-specific permission from the private landowner.  Leave any gates as you find them and treat private lands with respect.

Private lands adjacent to the public lands are often closed to hunting, with trespassers prosecuted by the owner.  Occupied residences – with children – on these private lands are common, as are livestock.  To successfully hunt public lands managed by the Palm Springs Field Office, you should scout the public lands well before the hunting season to find a parcel that is suitable.  It is a very good idea to locate the boundaries of the Federal parcel to avoid trespass problems.  You may also want to make an effort to contact the owners of adjacent private lands to let them know of your plans, and to avoid possible problems.

Other sites with hunting-related information:


Can I hunt or shoot within an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, and / or in wilderness areas within the BLM lands?

Areas of Critical Environmental Concern

Both hunting and target shooting are allowed within the Chuckwalla Bench ACEC; mechanized access is allowed on established roads and trails.

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Target shooting is prohibited within the National Monument.  Hunting is allowed within the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, but not within the State Game Refuges within the Monument.  

Wilderness areas

Both hunting and target shooting are allowed (but not recommended due to the areas being very popular with hikers and campers) within the San Gorgonio Wilderness and Mecca Hills Wilderness areas, but mechanized access is not allowed.

Hunting is allowed within both the Dos Palmas and Big Morongo ACECs, but target shooting is not allowed.  Fishing, motorized vehicles off the access road and camping without permission is prohibited within both ACECs.


Can I target shoot and/or hunt on BLM lands in the San Diego County area?

BLM manages various parcels of public lands throughout San Diego County.  Except where specifically closed by order, recreational target shooting is allowed on these lands, provided it is done in a safe area and manner.

What areas in San Diego County are closed to target shooting?

Areas closed to target shooting in San Diego County include Otay Mountain, La Posta, McCain Valley, and part of Table Mountain.  Such target shooting closures do not apply to licensed hunters in pursuit of legal game during hunting season, or to bird dog trainers also shooting game.

CFR= Code of Federal Regulations

PC= CA Penal Code
F&G= CA Fish and Game Code
No shooting without an adequate backstop and clear visibility {43 CFR 8365.1-4(a)(2), PC 372}
Select the base of a substantial hill or crosswise canyon bottom, and give serious consideration to downrange safety, including ricochets and potential illegal alien trails hidden in the brush.
No shooting down, across, or from a public road {PC 374(c)}
Include even remote, unpaved roads that can carry an unexpected, quiet mountain biker or fast off-road vehicle.
No shooting tracer or incendiary devices {43 CFR 9212.1(b)}
During much of the year, fire orders also prohibit steel core ammunition.
No shooting buildings, towers, fences, or other structures {18 USC 1361, 43 CFR 8365.1-5(a)(1)}
This includes the international border fence and other man-made features.
No shooting trees or significant natural features {43 CFR 8365.1-5(a)(1)}
The intentional placing of targets in front of or on oak, sycamore, and other significant trees results in damaging the bark and threatening the resources’ viability.
No shooting glass {43 CF 8365.1-4(a)(2), PC 372}
Broken glass can injure wildlife and domestic dogs and can permanently damage the public lands for other recreational uses.
No littering {43 CFR 8365.1-1(b)(1), PC 374.4(a)}
All targets, trash, and shells must be picked up.  While this should include everything you shoot at, whether you brought it out or not, cleaning up an entire site is the best way to preserve your legal sporting interest.  The litter from clays lasts for years, so don’t shoot them unless you plan on picking up all of the visible fragments.
No hunting from a motor vehicle (F&G Code Section 3002)
It is unlawful to shoot at any game bird or mammal, including a marine mammal as defined in Section 4500, from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane.
No shooting within 150 yards of a dwelling or across a roadway (PC 246 and F&G Code Section 3004).
It is illegal to shoot within 150 yards of a home, barn, outbuilding, house car, camper or any inhabited area. It is illegal to intentionally discharge any firearm or release any arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner.
No gross negligent shooting (PC 246.3)  
Any person who willfully discharges a firearm in a grossly negligent manner which could result in injury or death to a person is guilty of a public offense.