The weekend of March 21 saw hundreds of people visit the Pawnee National Grassland, many of them recreationally shooting. With this influx of visitors as the weather warms, it seems like a good time to remind visitors of the rules, regulations and best practices of this activity on the Pawnee:
· Only shoot at cardboard/paper targets, self-healing targets, manufactured metallic targets, or manufactured thrown-type clay targets. (No wooden backing allowed.) It is up to a $5,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months for using an unapproved target.
· Shoot further than 150 yards from a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area. (This includes the Pawnee Bird Tour pull outs.)
· Do not shoot on or across a National Forest System Road or across a body of water.
· Do not shoot in any manner or place where any person or property is exposed to injury or damage.
· Do not possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while discharging a firearm.
· The area located in Township 8N, Range 63W, Section 7 is closed to recreational shooting for ¼ mile south of Weld County Road 96 and ¼ mile west of County Road 63. Shooting adjacent to the Baker Draw Designated Shooting area is also prohibited.
· No tracer rounds or incendiary rounds allowed. Exploding targets are prohibited.
· Clean up your targets and casings.
· Be aware of livestock and other grassland visitors.
· Respect all signs while visiting the Pawnee National Grassland.
· Additional information is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/targetshooting.
For safety reasons, it is important to disperse yourself while shooting. Have a map of the area, as much of the Pawnee National Grassland is intermixed with private land. Once confirming you are on the Pawnee National Grassland in an area not closed to recreational shooting, confirm you have a safe backstop.
Conditions on the Pawnee are dry this time of year. At least two wildfires over the past few weeks have been attributed to shooting activities. Those who start wildfires may be held responsible for suppression costs. When shooting firearms, please take safety precautions and be mindful that hot projectiles and sparks from ricochets can ignite fires in dry grassy areas and in other dry brushy fuels.
For those looking for a specific place to go, the Baker Draw Designated Shooting area, located near the intersection of County Roads 96 and 61, offers berms providing 25, 50 and 100-yard shooting opportunities. There is a parking area, informational kiosk, target line and 30 shooting lanes with 26 benches. Users here must “pack-in, pack-out” spent shells and targets. This location can get busy on the weekends, so plan ahead in case you need an alternative location. Detailed information is online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/bakerdraw.