Shooting for Box Canyon’s opening date, BLM missed it by a mile

The opening of the 68-acre Box Canyon Shooting Range has been pushed back yet again. No new date has been announced by U.S. Bureau of Land Management. [William Butler]

The opening date of the highly anticipated Box Canyon Recreational Shooting Site, delayed now for nearly a year, still is not set, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management confirmed.

It initially was scheduled for a March 2022 opening, and then various problems pushed the projection to last November. Rains last fall pushed it back yet again. Now, a wet winter, supply-chain issues and other factors have the BLM unable to set a new projected opening date, according to a spokesman.

“We’re continuing repair work on the damaged berms and roads at the Box Canyon Recreational Shooting Site,” said Chris Wonderly, public affairs specialist for the Phoenix district office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. “We have repaired drainage and road damage but are experiencing material shortages. Our next steps include installing signage and barriers, and manufacturing targets. It’s important for the targets to withstand the caliber of rifles that would be allowed at the sites. The site remains closed while we finish this work. At this point, we don’t have an opening date.”

The site has been a popular informal shooting range for years due to its favorable backgrounds and proximity to the city. It is favored by local shooters — with pistols, shotguns and long guns.

In late 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began work on improving the site by adding shooting platforms and designated shooting lane, berms, permanent targets and areas for shooting designed for various types of guns.

The 68-acre facility is within the Box Canyon Recreation Area, a semi-developed 1,072-acre site about 10 miles west of town. The entrance to the new facility will be about 1,000 feet west of North Hidden Valley Road. The facility will accommodate as many as 90 shooters at a time, Wonderly said.

The enhancements will provide better organization in the area and will enhance safety, Wonderly said.

In addition to defined shooting platforms, lanes and natural and man-made backstops, there will be an adjacent 184-acre Hazardous Exclusion Area that will be defined by about 2.4 miles of 4-strand, wildlife-friendly perimeter fencing designed to keep hikers and others enjoying outdoor recreation away from the range.

Wonderly said the facility will have the full range of amenities originally proposed, including:

  • Three steel targets.
  • One steel target frame.
  • Three 25-, two 50- and two 100-yard shooting lanes.
  • One 200- and one 300-yard shooting lane.
  • Three primary backstop and side containment berms of native material with 6-inch clay liner and secondary backstops.
  • Five 30-foot-wide shooting platforms.
  • Sporting clay/skeet shooting area.
  • 20-foot-wide graded access roads with gravel parking area with handicap spaces.
  • Two vault restrooms.
  • Two 12-foot-wide pedestrian crossings.
  • Target area containment basins (3-foot wide) with a 6-inch clay liner.


He added that there could be seasonal restrictions on access to the range.

“As you know, we implement fire restrictions annually, which includes restricting target shooting on public lands,” Wonderly said. “Each year our fire personnel analyze conditions to determine if developed shooting sites can stay open during fire season, so there’s a possibility that the site may be closed during fire season.”