BLM Works To Do Right By Target Shooters In Arizona

by Vern Evans

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No, not that BLM. Today, we’re talking about the Bureau of Land Management. While there are certainly land managers who haven’t gotten along with the gun-owning conservative side of society, this recent story out of Arizona shows that there are people in the agency who are trying to do right by everyone.

When it comes to target shooting, the environmental issues associated with less responsible shooters can be very real. Going out and shooting at garbage instead of paper or steel can be fun, but it can get to the point where there are little pieces of computers, TV sets, malfunctioning printers (Office Space anyone?) and all manner of other toxic waste. Because of this, the agency has been dumb enough in the past to just prohibit shooting, with predictable results.

But, Arizona’s BLM managers seem to be wising up, realizing that giving people a safe place to shoot at steel targets means that people can still have fun and even train without degrading the land for future generations.

To do this required some experimenting and engineering. A maintenance worker with welding skills went through several designs before coming up with a decent steel target that could withstand the punishment everyone sends its way. After 12 redesigns, the agency came up with a chain system that lets some of the kinetic energy dissipate through movement. The targets are also built using AR500 hardened steel (so they don’t pit nearly as quickly) and are angled a bit to avoid sending fragments back at shooters.

The end result is a target that can stand up to months of abuse before needing to be replaced!

But, the agency also believes in “reduce, reuse, recycle.” The five months before replacement gets spent at the rifle range, but once the targets aren’t able to handle more rifle shooting, the agency moves the targets to the 200-yard range. Then, the targets get moved to a pistol range. Only then are they retired for good. So, this rotation ends up yielding years of useful life for shooters.

An Arizona BLM employee welds steel targets for a public range.

Live in the Phoenix Metro Area and want to check the site out for yourself? It’s located northwest of Phoenix near Lake Pleasant along highway 74 (the Morristown-New River Highway). There’s no fee to use the site, but hours are limited and only 50 people can use the site at a time. You cannot use your own targets here, but you may be able to find other nearby public lands to shoot at paper.

The site is one of several shooting sites near the Phoenix Metro Area. Some sites are steel-only like this one, but others allow you to bring your own targets as long as you clean up after yourself and don’t leave any trash behind, including paper and target frames. But, they know that not everyone will follow the rules, so volunteers come once a week to clean everything up, including steel cases, trash and anything else. Some volunteers even help weld up targets during the rest of the week.

If you’d like to help BLM keep these important sites open to the public and help protect public lands for future generations, be sure to reach out to the BLM Arizona office and offer to help!

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Read the full article here

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