Shooting ranges in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Indoor and outdoor shooting ranges are open to the public in the United States. Privately-owned firearms or those rented from the shooting range may be used, depending on rules set by the range owner. Tourist destinations in gun-friendly U.S. states have rental ranges catering to domestic and international tourists. Each shooting range in the United States is typically overseen by one (or more) range masters to ensure that gun safety rules are followed. Target shooting is generally allowed on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management; a great deal of target shooting is done unsupervised, therefore, outside purpose-built (or organised) ranges.[1]

Classes and license[edit]

Self-defense classes may be available for a fee at shooting ranges, covering firearm use in detail. Some ranges offer a class for concealed-carry licenses, which are available in almost every state. Some states issue the license only after a short course and, in some, courses are optional. Many tourist-oriented ranges offer rental firearms and safety lessons to foreign nationals.[2]


Shooter's-eye view of an outdoor range
Shooting range near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The number of public-access shooting ranges varies from 144 in Florida (with a 2008 population of over 18.2 million) to nine in Hawaii, with a 2008 population of 1.3 million.[citation needed] Exceptions include cities in the states of Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Illinois with strict gun control laws, where the number of ranges may be one for several hundred thousand people.[3]

Private or restricted-access shooting ranges are owned and used by police departments, private companies, private membership shooting clubs, and the military for qualification or firearms practice and training. These private ranges may have features absent from public ranges, such as large-caliber rifle and automatic-weapons ranges.



A variety of privately-operated outdoor ranges and public-access ranges operated by state and federal agencies on public land exist. Most outdoor ranges restrict caliber size, or have separate ranges devoted to rifles firing heavy-caliber cartridges.


An estimated 16,000 to 18,000 indoor firing ranges are in operation.[4]


Recreational target shooting is generally allowed on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management; much target shooting is unsupervised, outside the auspices of purpose-built or organised ranges.[1][5] States may also allow shooting on state-administered public lands. "Dispersed recreational shooting" has resulted in a number of deaths from inappropriate and negligent practices such as attaching targets to trees and shooting without an appropriate backstop.[6][7][8] It is usually illegal to shoot at trees on public land.[9]

Concerns have been raised about criminal damage by target shooters to public lands, including the destruction of structures, vegetation and historic artefacts.[10] Littering is also cited as a problem in some areas, including empty casings and the use of unapproved targets such as old televisions, household appliances and glass bottles, with debris left behind.[8]

Unmanaged target shooting can contribute to wildfires, with dispersed recreational shooting linked to 64 Utah wildfires in 2020.[11][12] Local restrictions are sometimes imposed on BLM-managed and state-owned public lands, particularly during wildfire season.[13] Calls have been made in some areas to construct more public-access ranges in conjunction with tougher restrictions on ad-hoc shooting on public land.[8][14] US Congressman Blake Moore introduced the Range Access Act in 2022,[15] which would require each national forest and Bureau of Land Management district to have at least one public recreational-shooting range.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting". Bureau of Land Management. US Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on 25 August 2023. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  2. ^ "Yes, Foreign Nationals May Rent and Shoot Guns*". Damage Factory. 2022-06-01. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  3. ^ "Places to Shoot". National Rifle Association of America. Retrieved 2008-10-27.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Kardous, Chucri. Take Aim at Protecting Yourself: Solutions for Preventing Lead Poisoning and Hearing Loss at Indoor Firing Ranges. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. May 18, 2009.
  5. ^ C. Moon Reed (July 6, 2018). "When target shooters and hikers collide". Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  6. ^ Farnoush Amiri (September 25, 2018). "Utah teen shot and killed by stray bullet while driving near target range". NBC News. Archived from the original on September 25, 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2023. A 14-year-old Utah boy was killed after a bullet from a nearby group of target shooters missed the trees and struck him in the head, police and the boy's family said.
  7. ^ Trevor Hughes (October 24, 2010). "Gun rights under siege? Recreational shooting on public lands in West has officials struggling to balance sport vs. safety". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Jesse Paul (July 10, 2015). "Man killed by errant bullet in Pike National Forest highlights growing problem". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  9. ^ "Recreational Shooting". Snomish County, Washington. Archived from the original on June 2, 2023.
  10. ^ Cait Munro (August 27, 2015). "Ancient Petroglyphs Damaged by Target Shooters in Utah". Artnet News. Artnet. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  11. ^ "Wildland fire investigation: common wildfire causes". National Interagency Fire Center. Archived from the original on September 6, 2023.
  12. ^ Lexi Peery (June 28, 2021). "From Finger To The Flame: How Target Shooting Cause Wildfires". kuer90.1. Archived from the original on June 28, 2021.
  13. ^ "Arizona Recreational Shooting". Bureau of Land Management. US Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on 25 August 2023. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  14. ^ "Shooting Range Response". Caja del Rio Coalition. Archived from the original on November 4, 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  15. ^ "H.R.9183 - Range Access Act". Library of Congress. October 14, 2022. Archived from the original on December 23, 2022.
  16. ^ Chris Eger (October 17, 2022). "Bill Would Add Hundreds of Free Public Shooting Ranges". Archived from the original on October 17, 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2023.

External links[edit]