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Places to Shoot in the Boulder, CO area National Forests

by Justin Willhite February 07, 2017 3 Comments

Places to Shoot in the Boulder, CO area National Forests

It seems places to shoot in the Boulder, Colorado area are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  The only actual range in the county is the Boulder Rifle Club, and memberships for that location are only available on a many-years long waiting list.

Rifle Range

While the BRC is a private club, the facility does provide range time to the public.  The first full weekend of the month between April and August are public range days.  Also, every full weekend September through October are public range weekends.  This is going to cost you about $10 per person- or more if you shoot in the fall months, at which time you pay per firearm.  Another downside to shooting at a square range is of course the lack or distance if you prefer shooting out to further targets.  Also, depending on the day and time, you may have trouble finding a lane or range to fire on.

Accessible Solutions

If you’re looking for a free, public space to shoot- the local national grasslands or national forests may be the best place for you.  Remember, these are public lands that belong to all of us.

Over time, shooting areas in national forests and grasslands can come and go and open and close.  There are specific rules that apply while shooting in these federal areas, and one must be mindful of what areas are closed to shooting or any traffic for that matter.

More recently some of the well-known shooting spots on federal lands have been restricted or closed.  This may be due to climate issues, complaints from nearby residential areas, or the misuse of land by shooters who leave behind garbage and junk.

While the latter two conditions may not be as easily controlled, the issue of littering and misusing public land can be.  As responsible shooters it is our responsibility to clean up after ourselves when we are finished with the fun.  There shouldn't be much clean up if you are using approved target materials.  A bad apple in the mix reflects negatively on all of us, so do your best to mitigate those circumstances.

At any rate, the burden of education is on you to know which areas are off limits, as it is a federal offense to shoot in closed areas.  So the best course of action would be to look at the maps provided by the USDA to see those areas off-limits.  View the current shooting area restrictions.  A consolidated color coded map of the closures is also available.

Regulations

Despite the lengthy list of closures, shooting is still permitted in other areas of the national forests and grasslands.  There are rules and guidelines to follow while out shooting and they are relatively common sense and easy to follow.

Basically it boils down to this:

 

  1. You may not shoot within 150 yards of a residence, campsite, building, or other occupied areas.

  2. You may not shoot across National Forest roads or bodies of water.

  3. You may not shoot in a manner a person or property may become injured or damaged.

  4. You may not shoot into a cave.

  5. You may not utilize tracer or incendiary ammunition.

That pretty well sums it up.  Keep in mind that the government doesn’t allow open alcohol containers or explosives to be used while shooting. View the full list of regulations here.

There are three proposed areas in Boulder County that may be designated as recreational shooting areas within federal lands. They are the Bunce School Road area, Beaver Reservoir Road, and Ruby Gulch.  View a detailed map of these locations here.  Obviously, these areas would be a great place to shoot as of now since they meet the criteria for being a designated shooting area already.  So while the powers that be decide on their final locations, enjoy these areas for your recreational shooting needs.  Remember to represent the shooting community in a tasteful manner, and always pick up after yourself after you’ve enjoyed your trigger time. 

Justin Willhite
Justin Willhite


3 Responses

Graham
Graham

September 05, 2017

Thanks for this article! My wife and I live in Boulder and have been hoping to find places closer to home where we could safely shoot without brining extra ire from locals. A designated shooting area closer to home would be awesome. We’re both relatively novice shooters, so it’s always nice to be somewhere where we can meet other folks interesting in shooting and in hunting (it’s surprising how hard it is to get into hunting as an adult male).

jordan
jordan

June 04, 2017

And yes some of the spots in the Pawnee Grasslands do get pretty rediculous with the trash/garbage. I make a point of picking up and packing out as much trash as I find. Usually met with a frindly wave by locals driving by (which is rare way out there). Plus can score lots of free brass :).
I agree we need to hammer the point home, clean up your cap before you leave or these spots will be shut down more and more.

Would love to find a nice open meadow type spot up the mountains to setup steel and shoot.

jordan
jordan

June 04, 2017

I have been following the proposed site thing for a year or so now. Seems little to no progress being made at the city council meetings. Unfortunate that the only free public range is bakers draw, almost 90 miles away from boulder co. 100 yards max as well. I finally joined Colorado Rifle Club as it is a good option with a variety of ranges. Other than there and the Pawnee sportsmen center and maybe a range in the springs. These are the only ranges around with 1000y targets. The CRC 1000y high power range being very f-class like from what I can tell. They do have a very nice metallic sillouette range that goes out to 500m with steel placed a various distances. Would love to find more places to safely shoot out to around 600-1200y safely with a drive time of around an hour max. For now I’ll settle for the 1.5 hour drive out to Byers to shoot at CRC.

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