Open field target practice is an excellent way to have a lot of fun while spending time outdoors. However, unlike with an indoor range and the controlled environment within it, open field shooting requires the observance of specific safety procedures. These safety measures ensure that the outing is a successful one, and that no one is unduly injured in the process.
Always Use Proper Targets
For open field target shooting, certain Recommended Types of Shooting Targets. For example, printable shooting targets are a perfectly acceptable form of target for outdoor use. However, many people associate outdoor shooting with unorthodox targets, such as bowling pins, glass bottle and certain types of exploding targets. These are all a violation of good safety practice, and are not allowed at most open field shooting locations. Glass and other solid targets can create ricochet problems, and exploding targets can create a shrapnel hazard. Therefore, it is suggested to always use cardboard, clay or printable shooting targets.
Observe Your Surroundings
While certain types of targets are not allowed due to the ricochet hazards they present, the environment can also cause problems with a possible ricochet. Shooting towards rocks is an obvious, yet often overlooked, error that many shooters make. Obviously, errant shots that strike the rocky areas of the range will deflect. Another issue with surroundings is dry vegetation. Gunfire can create a fire hazard when it encounters dry brush and plants, particularly if tracer ammunition is used. While tracers are not typically allowed in open field shooting environments, it is a good idea to avoid dry vegetation as well. Areas where shooters are firing into a hill or other high dirt backstop are best.
Use a Tarp
Since open field shooting areas are usually public property, it is important to respect the condition of that property by removing all trash from the area. However, this is also important for safety reasons. Spent casings and other refuse can cause a physical hazard to people using the land. Therefore, it is a good idea to shoot over a tarp. That way, the tarp can be easily picked up and removed from the shooting area, along with all of the trash and spent casings created during the session.
Don’t Shoot Near Roads and Structures
Obviously, buildings create a ricochet hazard for shooters, as well as being a place where bystanders might be present. It is a good idea to never shoot in the direction of a building. Also, while many shooting areas are remote, it is impossible to anticipate when a motorist or hiker might come along the road. The possibility of a shot striking someone is increased dramatically by roads. Always shoot away from roads and buildings.
By following these simple tips, trips to public land for outdoor shooting can be safe and fun. A few thoughts prior to setting up the range can eliminate the possibility of significant and tragic accidents from entering into this otherwise safe pastime.