Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly

Quick Tips for Responsible Shooting Sports

Travel responsibly on designated roads, trails and areas.
  • Practice target shooting and other shooting sports only on lands opened to shooting.
  • Always practice minimum impact travel techniques for your mode of transportation.
  • Stay on the trail.
  • Comply with all signs and respect barriers. Buddy up with two or three shooters, reducing vulnerability if you have an accident.
  • Don’t mix shooting with alcohol or drugs.


Respect the rights of others, including private property owners, all recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed.

  • Be considerate of others on the road, trail or within the shooting area.
  • Never take a shot unless you see the target clearly and you know what lies between you, the target and beyond.
  • Property such as signs, kiosks and buildings are not targets.
  • Don’t shoot across roads, trails, waterways or into caves.
  • Do not shoot in developed recreation sites such as campgrounds, trailheads, parking areas or boat launches.
  • Leave gates as you find them.
  • If crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).


Educate yourself prior to your trip by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies, planning for your trip, taking recreation skills classes and knowing how to operate your equipment safely.

  • It is your responsibility to contact the land manager to learn of any permit requirements, closures or restrictions related to shooting sports.
  • Obtain a map of your destination and determine which areas are open to your type of travel.
  • Make a realistic plan and stick to it.
  • Always tell someone of your travel plans.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go.
  • Prepare for the unexpected by packing a small backpack full of emergency items.


Avoid sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes.

  • Other sensitive habitats to avoid include living desert soils, tundra and seasonal nesting or breeding areas.
  • Don’t use trees or other natural objects as targets. These impacts leave a permanent negative image about shooters’ relationship with nature.
  • Do not disturb or shoot historical, archeological or paleontological sites. They cannot be replaced.
  • Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in designated Wilderness Areas.


Do your part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species and restoring degraded areas.

  • Respect the shooting community by only shooting legitimate targets.
  • Pack out all target trash including shotgun shells, fragmented clay pigeons or any targets. These leave a negative image about shooters.
  • Carry a trash bag on your vehicle and pick up litter and target trash left by others.
  • Do not shoot household appliances and other objects dumped in shooting areas. It is misconstrued that shooters are the dumpers.
  • Practice minimum impact camping by using established sites or durable surfaces and camping 200 feet from water resources and trails.
  • Observe proper sanitary waste disposal or pack your waste out.
  • Before and after your trip, wash your gear and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.

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Check out Tread Lightly!’s newest shooting sports campaign, created with involvement from the nation’s most influential hunting and shooting organizations.  It’s called Respected Access is Open Access.


To view or print these tips in a brochure format click here. For more tips on minimizing impact when hunting, four wheeling, snowmobiling, camping and other outdoor pursuits, click here.

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