Officials with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) are asking users of the state's public shooting ranges to help curtail growing instances of damage to the property. Of biggest concern are littering and gunfire damage to target frames, trash barrels, bench posts and other structures at the ranges.
DNR maintains nearly 30 public shooting ranges at numerous wildlife management areas, two state forests and other publicly accessible locations across West Virginia. These ranges were built and are maintained using funds from the sale of hunting licenses and conservation stamps. They are popular with hunters who use them to practice and sight in their firearms prior to the state's various hunting seasons. Although hunters pay the costs of the ranges with their license fees, these facilities are open at no charge to the public and are becoming more popular with recreational shooters.
Recent months have shown an increase in shooting range users damaging the facilities with high-powered firearms and ammunition for which the ranges are not designed, and bringing in inappropriate items which are not permitted under wildlife management area regulations such as household appliances, computer monitors, glass bottles, etc. Some shooters have been using these items as targets and not removing the debris when they leave. The result is that DNR’s wildlife managers are spending much of their time repairing the ranges and removing trash instead of maintaining and creating hunting and fishing opportunities, according to DNR Director Frank Jezioro. Shooters are reminded that current regulations prohibit the use of glass or metal containers as targets on any public shooting range. Only paper, clay and metal silhouette targets may be used on these ranges.
"Many of the recreational shooters do not have West Virginia hunting licenses, so they do not contribute to the upkeep of the facilities," Jezioro said. "We're asking that shooters take out what they bring in to the range, and that anyone who sees shooters abusing the shooting ranges report it to their local Natural Resources Police Officer."
Jezioro said shooting range operations will continue as they are now and they will remain open to the public at no charge. However, shooting range users are urged to read and obey the posted rules so that the facilities remain in good condition and remain available for everyone.
A list of public shooting ranges maintained by DNR is available online at www.wvdnr.gov/hunting/SRanges.shtm .