Recreational Target Shooting Frequently Asked Questions


With stakeholder input the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife has drafted an update to Washington
Administrative Code or WAC title 220 chapter 500 section 145 “fireaarms and target
practicing”. Hi I’m Eric Gardner wildlife program director this video answers some
frequently asked questions about the draft changes including what led to the
changes and their anticipated impact. What led to this rule change? In recent
years we’ve seen an increase in target shooting on DFW-managed lands as well as
an overall increase in the number of people visiting DFW-managed lands. This
increase in use has created several challenges including increased risk of
wildfires concerns over public safety and impacts to private property
littering and damage to wildlife habitat. What are the goals of this rule update?
WDFW is committed to continuing to provide shooting opportunities on our
lands however we also need to protect public safety reduce wildfire risk and
minimize damage to habitat. Who has been involved in drafting the rule update? In
2017 we formed a citizen advisory committee to address issues with target
shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area between Yakima and Ellensburg the Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee was made up of state and
national interests including the Hunters Heritage Council, the National Wildlife
Association, as well as neighbors and affected landowners, local law
enforcement, including Kittitas County Sheriff, and a broad array of
recreational interest such as hunters, target shooters, horseback riders,
mountain bike riders, hikers, wildlife watchers, and bird dog trainers. Some
local elected officials also served on the committee as ex officio members. Where is target shooting allowed on WDFW-managed lands how will this change with the new rule?
WDFW is committed to providing opportunities for target shooting on
WDFW managed lands. Under the draft rule, WDFW lands are open to target shooting
at designated recreational target shooting areas and in compliance with
posted regulations as well as in other areas containing an earthen backstop and
meeting other criteria defined by the rule. Targets must be placed in front of
and within 8 feet of the backstop and the person must be shooting at the lower
half of the backstop. A backstop is not required when using archery equipment,
crossbows, air bows, shotguns discharging shot smaller than size beed or air
rifles firing projectiles at a rate of 800 feet per second or less. Will the updated rule affect hunting or hunting rules? No, the draft rule update will not
affect hunting, hunting rules, or hunting dog training. What is the rule making
process and when will a new WDFW recreational target shooting rule go
into effect? Recreational target shooting is currently regulated under Section 140
of chapter 220 – 500 of the Washington Administrative Code any update to
chapter 220-500 must be adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission
following a public process that ensures opportunities for public comment. The
following state laws govern WDFW rulemaking activities. The Administrative
Procedure Act requires that agencies conduct a process that ensures public
involvement opportunities and considers the economic impact of its rules. The
Regulatory Fairness Act requires agencies to consider a disproportionate
impacts of rules on small businesses the State Environmental Policy Act requires
agencies to consider environmental impacts of rules. Depending on the
outcome of the public process an update to the target shooting rule could be
enacted as soon as summer of 2020. How does the draft rule update compare
to existing rules on Washington State public lands? The proposed rule update is
based on the current rules governing recreational target shooting on
Department of Natural Resources or DNR lands as defined in Chapter 33252 of the Washington Administrative Code like DNR’s rule, the
WDFW update defines recreational target shooting, identifies when and where
target shooting is allowed or prohibited, and defines allowable and prohibited
targets for use on WDFW managed lands. However the proposed rule goes a step
further by defining a backstop as an unobstructed earthen mound or bank at
least eight feet in height which must stop the progress and contain all
projectiles ricochets and fragments in a safe manner. Why do backstops need to be at least
eight feet in height? Literature on the subject recommends the minimum backstop
height for developed shooting ranges to be between 10 and 25 feet depending on
the shooting distance firearm type, downrange topography, and other factors.
Implementing a minimum backstop height of 10 to 25 feet for target shooting on
WDFW-managed lands would eliminate target shooting in many areas where
shorter backstops would be sufficient to address safety concerns. The proposed
backstop definition includes the requirement that the backstop “must
stop the progress of and contain all projectiles, ricochets, and fragments in a
safe manner.” Individuals engaged in target shooting
must ensure that they are using a backstop at least eight feet in height
that meets this requirement, including a slope that is steep enough and comprised
of earthen material that negates ricochets over the top or to the front
or sides of the backstop. In addition to the backstop definition targets must be
placed in front of and within 8 feet of the backstop and the person must be
shooting at the lower half of the backstop. This requirement is intended to increase the probability that the backstop will
be effective in stopping all projectiles in
fragments. However, individuals are ultimately responsible for utilizing an
effective backstop. What is the difference between a firearm and a gun
that uses air or compressed gas? A firearm is defined in statute under RCW 941010 as “A weapon or device from which a
projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder.”
Under this definition, guns that use compressed air or gas are not
considered firearms. However, they are included in the
proposed rule because many air or compressed gas guns are now capable of
firing at high velocities and/or firing large caliber projectiles. Does the proposed rule update affect long-range target shooting? The proposed rule does
not limit or preclude long-range target shooting as long as the requirements and
the rule are met. Long-range shooters must utilize an unobstructed earthen
backstop as defined in the rule and must also be certain the entire area between
the shooter and the target as well as the area beyond the target is free of
risk to people, animals, or property. Targets placed at distance and target
debris must be collected after shooting is completed at the site. Will the rule update affect areas currently being used for target shooting on WDFW-managed
lands? Areas being used for target shooting on WDFW-managed lands that meet
the requirements in the proposed rule and do not pose issues related to safety
or habitat concerns may continue to be used. However areas that do not meet
proposed rule requirements or that present safety, habitat, or other issues
that cannot be eliminated or mitigated by improvements may no longer be used. Does WDFW have plans to build new or
enhance existing shooting areas? WDFW intends to improve a few areas currently
being used for recreational target shooting to provide a higher quality user
experience and address new requirements under the draft rule. Additional areas
may be developed or improved in the future subject to funding availability. Why are their timing restrictions on the
use of steel targets? To reduce fire risk, the draft rule update prohibits the use
of steel targets outside of a department designated shooting area from June 1 to
September 30. WDFW may manage vegetation at Department designated shooting areas
to reduce the risk of fire. Why aren’t steel core or tracer bullets
allowed? Fires have occurred on WDFW lands from the use of these projectiles.
Steel core bullets can spark when hitting a rock or steel target so are
not allowed in order to reduce the risk of fire. What clay targets are allowed
under the draft rule update? Not all clay targets are biodegradable and may
contain ingredients harmful to the environment such as petroleum-based
binders. Environmentally-friendly clay targets are readily available and are
made from other ingredients such as sulfur, limestone, or forestry or
agricultural products and water-based paint that washes off. These clay targets
are typically marked as biodegradable. How and when will WDFW address environmental
issues associated with target shooting? For example, lead. WDFW will address
environmental concerns during rulemaking through the State Environmental Policy
Act or SEPA process as well as via the development of environmental stewardship
plans for department designated recreational target shooting areas. Will
my family still be able to plank with BB guns without using a backstop? Compressed
gas or air guns can be used without a backstop as long as they are not capable
of shooting projectiles at velocities over 800 feet per second. However, all
shooters are expected to exercise safe basic firearm handling practices and be
responsible in the handling and discharge of these devices. Can aluminum cans be used as targets? Aluminum cans, plastic bottles, or other containers are not allowed to be used as
targets. The proposed rule requires targets be either commercially or
privately made for the specific purpose of target shooting. How can the public
provide comment on the proposed rule? The public will have opportunities to
comment on the proposed rule via both the formal processes required by state
law and via the WDFW website. WDFW will also host a series of public meetings in
different parts of the state. WDFW will publish notice of those areas and other
information on how to provide comments on the WDFW website. For more information about target
shooting on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife-managed lands, and to
learn more about the draft rule update, please visit the link below this video
and feel free to offer comments in the comment section.


3 Responses

  1. Dave's backyard chickens and outdoors

    February 28, 2020 5:00 am

    Maybe the democrats should stop wasting money on drug addicts in the Seattle streets and putting money into Non Citizens and start cleaning up the forest like they used to 20 years ago. Instead of using money on non-citizens and druggies. Go back to grading those old logging roads and allow harvest of Dead wood again. Not by taking away people's rights. And the Government needs to stop selling off public lands.

  2. Mike Magnum

    February 28, 2020 7:48 am

    Washington State "authorities" of any kind have effectively ruined the state of Washington on so many levels, including this particular subject, that there is no cure for what ails it… Getting rid of the socialist/communist, UN loving agenda 21 following idiots and sellouts of the citizens is the only answer to all the problems that Washington State faces. These incompetent "authorities" just love to make more laws, rules and ordinances that are designed to shut down land and rights and do nothing for the good of the citizens… or the general health and welfare of the state.

    Get rid of Inslee and his idiot, Furguson. Then stop this "Sanctuary Protection" for their Illegal Alien/Illegal Voter Base and stop allowing these so-called representatives to dream up "laws" and pass them without the votes of the people who they are supposed to represent! They raise taxes all the time WITHOUT REPRESENTATION OR VOTES BY THE CITIZENS…

    There are laws on the books currently regarding littering and they should be enforced, but these "authorities" ignore them and want us to think that WE need NEW LAWS to PROTECT US FROM OURSELVES! Don't bguy this BS folks…. it's all smoke and mirrors with an agenda designed to shrink your rights and your public lands even more!


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