The NCA has long been popular as a place for recreational target shooting and sight-in rifle shooting at ground squirrels and other non-game animals. With a dramatic increase in general recreational use in recent years, reports of "close calls" and dangerous encounters between shooters and other users of the NCA became common, especially when ground squirrels are active above ground.
Safety problems have become particularly significant in the western portion of the NCA closest to Boise, Kuna and Melba. To alleviate concerns about stray bullets, the following shooting restrictions are in effect on public lands throughout the NCA:
Snake River Canyon: Public lands are closed to the discharge of rifles and pistols year-round within the Snake River Canyon from Gold Island (near Grand View) downstream to the old Guffey Bridge (see map). The width of the closure is 1/2 mile from either side of the Snake River or 100 yards back from the canyon rim, whichever is greater. The same area is closed to the discharge of all firearms from February 15 to August 31. The exception to this closure is for the rifle deer hunting season in Hunting Unit 40 on the south side of the Snake River. * Note - This closure still allows you to hunt upland game and waterfowl in the canyon area with shotguns between September 1 and February 15 in accordance to Idaho Fish & Game regulations.
Snake River Plateau: Public lands are closed year-round to the discharge of rifles and pistols in the portion of the NCA located north of the Pacific Power & Light Company (PP&L) powerline and west of Swan Falls Road (see map). Within this area, organized groups may apply to develop and manage a target shooting range(s). Groups wishing to apply for this privilege will be required to show that they are able to adequately develop, manage, and maintain the site to avoid adverse impacts to other users in the area.
Where to shoot: If you wish to target shoot with a rifle or pistol in the western portion of the NCA (Kuna & Melba areas), stay south of the PP&L powerline and east of Swan Falls Road. If you shoot in the Pleasant Valley Road area, stay south of the PP&L powerline.
If you prefer shooting a shotgun, you are not affected by the Plateau closure. Two popular spots include the Kuna Butte and Initial Point areas. Just be aware of other users in the area and always observe the following safe shooting practices:
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Know your target and what is beyond it.
- Position your target with a backstop.
- Be aware of other users nearby.
- Take your targets home.
If you choose to shoot a firearm in the NCA, please be sure you are in an area open for shooting.