As prime outdoor recreation weather moves into the area, it’s important to emphasize some of the basic safety advice all hikers, campers, park visitors and recreational shooters should remember – respect each other’s presence, follow posted regulations and shoot responsibly.
According to the Bureau of Land Management, shots fired across the open desert can travel for more than a mile.
BLM does not manage any shooting areas on Arizona public lands. The lack of regulation can often be dangerous with many shooters of varying skill levels firing powerful weapons sometimes recklessly.
In January one such incident occurred near Buckeye when a young, expectant mother was struck in the chest by a stray bullet while at a public shooting area with family. Kami Gilstrap, 24, died at a hospital.
Gilstrap was not the first to suffer such a fate. Trails and campsites near public and private shooting areas make for potentially hazardous conditions.
Multiple hikers have been struck by stray or accidentally discharged bullets in the greater Phoenix area in recent years, including a 35-year-old man shot in 2015 while hiking in South Mountain Park. Though it was determined the male hiker was off trail, the nearby Phoenix Rod and Gun Club was investigated as a possible source of the bullet.
Shooters who plan to target shoot must remember shooting is only allowed 100 yards away from any major road, and one mile from an inhabited structure. Always shoot against an adequate backdrop and follow standard safe shooting practices. And clean up after yourself.
Hikers and off-road enthusiasts planning a desert excursion should do some research about the locations of both public and private shooting areas. Stick to marked trails and avoid areas within a 2-mile radius of shooting areas.
Carry an adequate supply of water, a cellular phone and notify family or friends of the general location and intended duration of a planned hike or camping trip.
This sidebar appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.