High Fire Danger Causes Target Shooting Ban in Washington State

On average, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources responds to 22 wildfires annually on lands it manages that are caused by shooting, a number that includes illegal explosive targets and target practice.

Saying the move was taken to help prevent wildfires, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced Aug. 3 it is temporarily banning all target shooting on 3 million acres of DNR-managed lands, including state forests, community forests, and forested state lands. The temporary ban went into effect Aug. 4.

"I know this is an inconvenience to our recreational shooters, but current conditions require us to take reasonable steps to reduce wildfire risk," said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. "Within days we expect to surpass the average number of wildfires that my crews normally respond to within an entire wildfire season. Resources are stretched, and we must all do our part to protect our communities and our firefighters."

According to the agency, shooting at targets poses greater risk in dry conditions as bullets pass through decayed wood, cause sparks off rocks, or break into fragments in dry grass. On average, DNR responds to 22 wildfires annually on lands it manages that are caused by shooting, a number that includes illegal explosive targets and target practice.

The temporary ban does not restrict hunting, as firearms are discharged less frequently. Currently, 96 percent of Washington state is experiencing drought-like conditions.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also restricted shooting on lands it manages starting Aug. 4. Franz also is asking private landowners to consider target shooting restrictions on their own lands.

DNR indicated the target shooting ban is expected to last through Sept. 30, though it may be extended or shortened based on fire conditions. The agency is encouraging target shooters to visit local private and public target ranges during this time.

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