In recent years, target practice has increased dramatically on public lands throughout the Northwest.  Each year more and more people are turning to public land to do their shooting.  Shooting ranges, gun clubs, agency management and law enforcement have not kept pace with the rapid growth of this kind of recreation.  Newcomers often do not have a clue about public land shooting rules and, apparently, some don’t know how to shoot safely.  Conflicts are growing and the effects of rogue shooting has become a problem with neighbors, forest visitors and managing agencies.

Rogue behavior is not just a target shooter thing, as it happens in all kinds of recreation, however, using a firearm on public lands is, perhaps, the most serious kind of recreation there is.  And it should be treated as such by all who wish to partake in target practice.

Solutions are not easy to find.  The most common suggestion seems to be ‘close it’, period.  When that happens, conflicts of a different kind come to light.  Bickering, arguing and dissension sets in and no one gets anywhere in resolving the issues.  There is no ultimate one solution to resolve the situation.  It takes a multitude of consistent efforts to cause a change.

Such is the problem we face in the Anderson Butte recreation area, just outside Medford Oregon.  The Butte is surrounded by rural residence who value its pristine beauty and the many recreation opportunities it has to offer.  Their concerns are well founded and help is needed to resolve these issues.

The ‘low-down’ on the ‘high-ground’ in the Anderson Butte…

  • Longstanding conflicts with visitors, neighbors and agency caused by irresponsible target shooters shooting illegally.  It only takes one person to cause big safety concerns and put others at risk, but when several do it, it’s a huge problem.
  • Target shooting happens in places where no responsible shooter would ever dream of shooting.  Places that have no backstop.  Bullets effortlessly leave the area and sail 1 to 4 miles across the valley.  The shooter has no idea where they landed, but, nearby residents and trail users do!
    • High volume of illegal dumping, (even a low volume is illegal).  Some shooters think it’s fun to take dumped trash and use it for targets.  Some think it’s perfectly fine to bring trash from home and use it for targets.  Little do they realize, trash is not legal targets and they just signed all our names to it!
    • Trash is being left behind after shooting.  Even if they are using legal targets, people still leave it behind.  I’ve heard some say; “It has no value… It’s no good anymore… and… I’ll leave it for the next guy”.  Wrong and illegal!  If it didn’t grow naturally in the forest, get it out!
    • Recreation information signs are being destroyed, shortly after installation, with bullet holes from someone who thinks they’re fun to shoot.
        • Targets are placed on trees causing damage to natural resources.  In some cases, trees are shot down on purpose just to see if they could really do it.  Highly illegal and destructive.
        • The party crowd on a weekend night seem to like some night shooting and leave a big mess in the woods.  They don’t realize, nor seem to care, it is illegal to shoot firearms after the sun goes down.  Some are mixing alcohol with firearms and shooting into the darkness just to see the flash.  Then, jump in the car and leave the trash behind.

        All of the above concerns are ruining the reputation of responsible shooters, sportsman and hunters.  It is also the cause of many places being closed to shooting.  More closures and more restrictions are bound to happen if we do nothing to help correct the wrong that is being done.  We must all be aware of these concerns and actively work together in collaborative efforts to correct them.  It’s a team effort.  A community effort.  But it needs to happen if you wish to see target practice available for the current and future generations.

        This is why we are meeting on Saturday, June 15th on the Anderson Butte for a cleanup of several recreation areas.  We are making it known that bad behavior is not condoned, nor tolerated, and is not a part of our ethical recreation DNA.  We will be working together, side by side, with other groups, clubs, neighbors and concerned citizens to send our message, seek solutions and start a movement of promoting responsible and respectful recreation.

        So come join us as we have a little chat about this, do some spring cleaning, share a BBQ lunch, win some neat prizes and make new friends.

        Hope to see you there,

        Bill Cogley
        CEO/President Trash No Land