GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Campers in Montana's national forests are getting skittish as more sportsmen take advantage of rules that allow target shooting, even though they comply with the rules.
The rules bar target shooting 150 yards of a residence, a building, or campsite or developed recreation site. But for some campers, that's way too close.
Campers point to trees that have been shredded with bullets not far from group campsites.
"If they shoot this way, we're in jeopardy," said John Metrione, a recreation and trails resource specialist with Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. "They're actually sawing them in half with high-powered rifles. I think that's part of the attraction."
"We just want people to recognize that's not an appropriate use of a firearm to use trees as targets," he said.
Officials said some target shooters are using exploding targets, which are illegal in national forests.
In Colorado's Pike National Forest last July, Glenn Martin, a 60-year-old man enjoying a holiday with his family, was killed by an errant shot.
Forest officials, who said they have no plans to change the rules, are urging recreational shooters to remember that some areas are high-use camping areas with families, including children spending nights there.
"Our No. 1 concern is public safety," Metrione said.
Taylor Steinbarth said he enjoys coming to the national forest for target practice. Steinbarth said he brings his own targets, and set them up so they were shooting into a hillside, the Great Falls Tribune reported (http://tinyurl.com/hc5mvgs).
Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com