Arizona Recreational Shooting
Many take advantage of the opportunities to target shoot on public lands. Currently on Arizona public lands, there are no designated target shooting sites managed by the BLM. However, in 2020 the BLM approved the Recreational Shooting Sports Project, clearing the way to begin construction of recreational shooting sites in the Phoenix metro area.
Shooting is prohibited in some areas due to high public use and resource concerns. Prohibited areas include all developed recreation sites and other areas where posted. Check the list of specific areas 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. You must follow all state laws and county ordinances on the safe and legal use of weapons and ammunition. National BLM regulations are listed here. Each local area may have extra requirements.
It's your responsibility to know applicable laws and to use firearms in a safe manner. For the most accurate information, contact the managing BLM Office.
Join us in the partnership effort to sustain existing shooting opportunities in the Sonoran landscapes of southern Arizona by participating in Tread Lightly's Respected Access Campaign. Take part in events, and help spread the word about appropriate recreational shooting habits to your shooting friends and partners.
Things to consider when selecting a location:
- You must get to public lands only via public roads. You may not cross private lands to get to public lands unless you get 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 behind the target is ideal.
- You must not discharge firearms within 150 yards of residences, buildings, campsites, occupied areas, recreational areas, or domestic livestock.
- Shooting across a road, trail, or wash is prohibited.
- Shooting should only take place in areas well away from other concentrations of people and property.
- Shooting from a vehicle is prohibited.
- When driving to your target shooting location, stay on designated routes. Cross-country travel is not permitted outside of OHV open area boundaries.
When shooting on public lands,
- The use of fireworks, exploding targets, tracer ammunition and other incendiary devices is prohibited on BLM Arizona-managed public land. Fire Prevention Order: AZ910-2015-0001.
- 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—such as 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. (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.
Due to safety concerns, litter problems, high fire danger, and wildlife management issues, several areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management are closed to target shooting. These areas include:
- Within one quarter mile of all recreation sites and structures that may be occupied.
- Agua Fria National Monument (Contact Hassayampa Field Office)
- San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (Contact Tucson Field Office)
- Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, within the river canyon (Contact Safford Field Office)
- Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area (Contact Safford Field Office)
- Portions of Table Mesa Recreation Area (Contact Hassayampa Field Office)
- Miller Road/White Tanks Area (Contact Hassayampa Field Office)
- Ironwood Forest National Monument (Contact Tucson Field Office)
- Portions of the Sonoran Desert National Monument (Contact Lower Sonoran Field Office)
We recommend using 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.
The BLM 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 it can provide guidance to those seeking appropriate public lands for target shooting. You can purchase these maps from the Arizona State Office and at the various field offices. Contact a BLM field office.
In January 2020, the BLM's Phoenix District published a final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Decision Record approving the Recreational Shooting Sports Project, clearing the way for the construction and operation of five recreational shooting sites on public lands near the Phoenix metro area. The sites will provide active management, enhanced access and increased safety for shooting sports enthusiasts and other public land users near one of the most populated metro areas in the nation.
On March 12, 2021 the BLM published in the Federal Register the final supplementary rules for this project. The rules became effective April 12, 2021.