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10 Ways to Prevent Wildfires While Target Shooting
As wildfires run rampant across the country, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to safe shooting.
1. Bring a bucket of water – This may seem obvious, but often, shooters fail to bring enough water to put a fire out. A 5-gallon bucket of water at the ready while shooting could prevent a disaster if a fire does start. We recommend placing the bucket near the targets you'll be shooting. That way, if a fire starts, you won't have to waste precious time carrying a heavy bucket all the way to where your targets are set up.
2. Shoot on quality steel targets – Action Target's steel targets are designed to minimize risks to both the shooter and the environment. The flat target surface with no exposed clamps or brackets allows for a predictable bullet splatter, and the 30 degree angle of the target plate forces bullet fragments down toward the feet of the target. Uneven shooting surfaces produce unpredictable splatter and ricochet which increases the surface area exposed to sparks and hot bullet fragments.
3. Place your targets on dirt or gravel – Make sure your target is placed on a level, unvegetated surface of dirt or small grained gravel. Placing a target in tall grass increases the risk of fire.
4. Don't shoot trash – Trash like old couches and TVs can often be found on public land but are dangerous fire hazards when shot. Because there is no hard surface to cause the bullet to break up, hot rounds can build up inside and create enough heat to cause a fire.
5. Don't shoot with steel core ammo – Ammo that contains a steel core will spark when it hits a rock or a steel target. To avoid any chance of sparking, do not use steel ammunition and avoid shooting in rocky areas.
6. Bring a shovel and an old blanket – Use the shovel to dig a trench around your targets before shooting to ensure that any fire caused by sparks can be easily contained. Place the blanket near the targets you'll be shooting so it's easily available if needed. A blanket is one of the best ways to smother a fire and can be even more effective than water.
7. Never shoot exploding targets – Binary exploding targets made of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder (commonly known as Tannerite when combined) are popular among recreational shooters, but can be highly destructive. Never use exploding targets in flammable areas. Exploding targets (listed as “other pyrotechnic devices”) are outlawed on public lands by the Bureau of Land Management's Fire Prevention Order.
8. Don't use incendiary or tracer ammo – Incendiary and tracer ammo are also outlawed on public lands by the BLM's Fire Prevention Order. Any ammo that “burns” can easily ignite grass and brush and should not be used in flammable areas.
9. Don't smoke – Even if you're following all safety precautions in regard to shooting, you can still easily start a wildfire by smoking. If you're shooting in a dry location, make sure that all cigarette butts are properly extinguished or avoid smoking at all.
10. Park your vehicle away from dry grass – Several fires this year have been started by vehicles parked over grass. Many people don't think about it, but the hot undercarriage of a car or truck can easily create enough heat to ignite dry grass.