Where Can I Shoot My Gun?

Pistol on target with ammo
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Where Can I Shoot My Gun?

Whether you're new to shooting or you've lived your entire life around firearms, at some point, you've probably asked a question common to everyone with ammo to fire: Where can I shoot my gun?

It doesn't matter if you're practicing for accuracy, training for self-defense, getting more accustomed to how your gun shoots, or preparing for competitions, you'll need somewhere to shoot. But where should that be done? Where can you safely practice while staying within the bounds of law and reason?

Thankfully, a few options are available to you. Read on to find out where you can safely shoot your gun.


man firing pistol at outdoor shooting range

The best part about gun ranges is they're dedicated spaces specifically designed for you to fire your gun. Another helpful feature is that you often find ranges either attached to or run by a local gun shop.

What makes a dedicated gun range so wonderful is that the owners have already taken time to develop the space, cover the legal grounds, and plan out the area to allow for the best possible experience when it comes to shooting your firearm.

Most ranges are typically indoor or outdoor ranges, though some locations offer both types of shooting. Both have their pros and cons. Depending on what your needs are, you may end up having a personal preference for one or the other as time passes and you've had the opportunity to shoot at both types.

Pros and Cons of Indoor Ranges

Indoor ranges have been built so you can do your shooting inside. This is one of their biggest benefits. At an indoor range, you can conduct your shooting completely unencumbered by the elements. It doesn't matter if it's scorching hot or there’s a torrential downpour, you can shoot comfortably. This can be especially helpful if you're trying to familiarize yourself with a new gun or if you want to get used to proper form and shooting mechanics. Because you don't have to worry about any outside interference, including wind, you can focus on getting comfortable so that if or when you do have to shoot in a less than ideal environment, you’re confident using your gun.

Sounds perfect, right? For a lot of people, it is. However, there are some limitations to be considered. Perhaps the biggest limitation of an indoor range is space to accommodate a large number of shooters or greater distance to targets. As a result, you may find yourself wishing you had a little more room when shooting at an indoor range.

Another issue is noise. Due to the nature of shooting, a lot of noise is created; in an indoor range, this can sometimes be amplified by the enclosed space. This can make it more difficult to communicate with anyone accompanying you, cause auditory distractions, and in some cases uncomfortable, especially with larger caliber weapons. Some high-powered rifles and handguns can create rather large booms, literally changing the pressure in the room. It's not an issue of danger, but it is something to be aware of; over time, it may become annoying enough to dampen your overall experience.

Finally, some indoor ranges limit the type of gun you can shoot. You may not be able to shoot your weapon if it's too high powered.

Pros and Cons of Outdoor Ranges

As a result of being outdoors, these ranges are less constrained by building dimensions or space restrictions and can allow for more freedom in the type of shooting and permitted firearms. Depending on the way the range is set up, you have the potential for long range shooting at much farther distances than could be achieved at the average indoor range. You also have the capability of greater movement, which allows for more variability in shooting positions.

This does come with some drawbacks, the most notable being weather. Extremes in temperature can impact your overall experience drastically. So, too, can weather variations such as wind, rain, snow, or any combination thereof.

Can I Shoot in My Backyard?

man shooting targets in backyard

The thought has probably crossed your mind: Can I just shoot in my backyard? Most firearm enthusiasts wonder about this at some point for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is convenience.

It would be fantastic if you could just step outside and enjoy your firearm on your own property. In some cases, you can. Firearm laws vary greatly from state to state and town to town, so the first thing you should do if you want to shoot in your yard is learn about the laws where you live. In general, you should be able to shoot on your own property provided you aren't shooting in the direction of other people and you have a sufficient backstop.

State or county laws that cover shooting in your backyard might be related to:

  • How far away you are from a road
  • How far away you are from your neighbors
  • If you are within a certain distance of your neighbors, you may be able to shoot there if you have their permission

There are other factors at play as well. For instance, a certain state or county may not let you shoot your gun if you live near a nonresidential building, such as a hospital or school. Living near a park or a playground may also have certain restrictions around shooting in your backyard.

One of the most important things to remember is safety. You want to have enough room or protection to defend against errant shots and ricochets. You'll also want a backstop big enough to stop the rounds you're firing from traveling further than you want them to. Whether that's a man-made berm or just a hill behind your target location, you want something behind your shooting area large and thick enough to absorb the rounds and prevent them from continuing on to an unintended target.

Before you start shooting on your property, take some time to look into local laws and restrictions. If you have questions, you can always contact local law enforcement for more information.

Other Areas Where You Can Shoot

While by and large, the majority of people end up shooting at a range or on private property, you may wonder if you can shoot in other locations. Perhaps you don't have a range nearby (or want to avoid the expense), and your own yard or property isn't sufficient for safety. You may live in a neighborhood or area where shooting isn't allowed at all. In these cases, can you go to a national park or other public lands and shoot?

Shooting on national parks and public lands can be a bit tricky. There are many more regulations and red tape when dealing with the federal government, but it is still possible in some instances.

In many cases, if the shooting won't negatively impact protected wildlife or otherwise negatively disturb the forestry of the park, you're good to go. Hunting is allowed on a lot of federal land, so shooting is obviously not an issue in and of itself. The big issues usually center around restricted or protected areas. Contact the agency in charge of the area you plan to utilize prior to going out there just to be on the safe side. They'll happily let you know what's acceptable and any safety precautions or rules you should follow.

The important things to remember when it comes to where you can or cannot shoot are legality and safety. As long as you're not breaking any laws by being there with your firearm — and as long as all safety precautions are in place — you should be fine. If you have concerns, contact the local governmental agency or law enforcement responsible for the area you plan to be doing your shooting and find out for sure. This is definitely a situation where it's better to ask permission first and not forgiveness later. It's much better to know than to risk fines or worse, imprisonment, simply because you weren't aware you couldn’t shoot there.

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Steve Hampson
My favorite is Dead Zero in Spencer, TN. Everything is outdoors, pistol, rifle, clay. Rifle range out to 1000 yards. 100, 600, 800, 1000 are all electronic, which allows you to see your shot right away on a provided iPad type device. The staff and grounds are excellent!!
Small private local indoor range for my 9mm pistols and 9mm carbine. Outdoor public range about 1/2 hour South for shotguns and rifle target practice.
"In many cases, if the shooting won't negatively impact protected wildlife or otherwise negatively disturb the forestry of the park, you're good to go" Nope. Discharging of firearms in National Parks and most state parks, is HIGHLY regulated. And basically never gonna be okay. With few exceptions. https://www.nps.gov/articles/firearms-in-national-parks.htm Dont risk it! Conversely, BLM and USFS land are generally very friendly to go shooting. You should do your homework and know the federal rules and your local ones though.
Perry DuPre
I have 12 acres, straight powerline down th middle, lage hill as a backstop, marked at 7 , 25, 50, 100, 150, 200 , & 250 yrds! Shooting tables, ledsled, done more than think about shooting in my yard!
I live in Texas and shoot at the Frisco Gun Club. It is one of the finest, If not the FINEST, range in America. The personnel there are knowledgable and very friendly. The range in Oceanside, CA is also a very good range and very well maintained.
Larry Ball
I moved to from the NW to the N Houston area 2 years ago and am really disappointed that here NO public lands near ( in which I can shoot. I don't mind occasionally going to a "for profit range" but for the amount I would like to shoot it is seriously too expensive. All I want to do is tack a paper plate on a tree and hone skills. Most ranges around here don't even allow rapid fire.
Marcos Rodriguez
I live in Chandler, AZ and I’m looking for an outdoor shooting range with distance to shoot my rifle. Any thoughts?
Ray Eddings
TOP GUN is an indoor range in Lugoff, S.C. It's a 6 bay pistol range with a simulator. Clean and well run. No rifles or shotguns, and no 50 caliber. There are some outside ranges in the area.
I live in hog and deer country so shooting deer in my back yard is ok I only shoot does because I lease to a hunting club hog season is year round.
I live in Harrisonburg, VA and I’m looking for a shooting range In the 22801 zip code area or even 50 miles away. I found four through the web but when I drive there using a GPS the address are wrong. I used the shooting range address that the NRA posted in their web site; same results , and the phones are not working either. Any recommendations? Thank you
Bill Bennett
My mother in law's back yard! Lol makes my wife happy.happy to go see her twice a week! I'm currently working on a range set up
Colin Crandall
I am really blessed to be a Public Safety Sergeant for the State of Georgia and I typically can’t find a range that makes me pay The range fees and or membership fees that normally charges over 4 tiers of membership starting from $350 to $700! The Governors gun club in two locations in Georgia is just like a high end golf resort and restaurants all included with a 25 yard pistol range, 50 yards, and 100yard range lanes and this place is astoundingly clean neat and even offers me free gun cleaning 1 firearm a month and it’s all free. Take this that they treats me so warm and friendly I don’t take advantage of those services due to the appreciation from me and from them to me just being there...just in case, due to the fact that I’m also a tactical Swat Medic and paramedic also always carry a emergency medical bag and skills that are handy if...God forbid something happens in the range, I am there to render aid until the 10-4 (ambulance) arrives and takes over from my care. Plus I always as you should, clean up my whole area to their standards and I bring everything needed from eyes and ears and targets as so I don’t waste their money makers I.e. targets, lanes and eyes/ears. I also occasionally act as their range officer while the workers can chill and take a break cleaning up and that gives them relieving them on range safety and cleaning up someone else’s messes and casings. This place is awesome!! Even the YouTube r John Lovell from Warrior Poet Society Nation comes to this beautiful and clean range that he teaches classes and uses this facility frequently and I got to play along with him for free! He’s such a great, nice and good person and a hell of a shot and a vast personality of knowledge and I’ve learned so much even if I am a firearm trainer as well but I don’t make the money that he does. His classes are completely spectacular and you always come out of there with knowledge and techniques you didn’t even know or thought about mentioning it to anyone you used to teach because all cops know everything anyways. They are just wasting money $500.00 class sessions each person! He’s so down to earth and teaches tons of pertinent information you haven’t even thought about. One class was in the dark and it was weapon light mounted classes integrated into shooting skills which I heard was awesome. Anyways, back to the location. Georgia is hot and that nice Governor's Gun Range in Woodstock Georgia is nice and cool, chilled and relaxed like a resort golf club for private members only minus the members only jackets.