Don’t trash the desert

Most shooters enjoy the freedom of being able to head out to a remote area, cruise down a dirt road to a backstop and let the brass fly.  These open access public lands provide shooters an area to practice target shooting and have a little fun with out the cost of joining a gun club or the restrictions of a shooting range. Tread Sticker with sans address Sadly these open access areas are turning into waste lands due to the rising amount of trigger trash left behind.

Trigger trash is a catchy name for an increasing problem, trash left behind in public access areas by target shooters.  Trigger trash isn’t just brass and other casings, it’s targets, clay fragments, electronics, bottles, cans and everything else shooters haul out for a day shooting.  When we did our group shoot a couple months back out in Buckeye I was disgusted and dismayed to find not only an insane amount of casings, but literal piles of various car and electronic parts that had been used for target practice as well as food containers and more than one dirty diaper.  It was nasty.  The trash was everywhere!  The dirt, the cactus, the bushes.

The problem with trigger trash is that it’s more than just an eyesore, much of this trash is hazardous to the animals and environment.  Computer and electronic components often contain chemicals that can contaminate ground water.  Animals can get their paws or heads stuck inside aluminum cans and plastic bottles.  Torn metal and glass shards can easily puncture the feet of animals causing infections, loss of limbs and death.

5-End-Trigger-Trash-Mountain-AZWe bring out our fare share of targets and fun stuff to shoot up but we make it a point to pick up everything we haul in.  We set the kids the picking up brass and shells.  I’m sure we don’t get every single casing, but we try.  Here are a few tips to make cleaning up trigger trash easier:

1.  Lay a tarp down where ever you plan to shoot from.  When you are done shooting simply pull up the tarp and dump the casings into a bucket.  It’s worth it to hold on the brass as it can be sold to re-loaders or scrappers.

2.  Bring a small rake and a scoop.  You can find a slotted scoop for litter boxes at any dollar store.  Use the scoop to scoop up piles of casings and trash to filter out the dirt.

3.  Bring a pop-up trash can.  You can find Flings at Amazon, Target or Wal-Mart.  Flings are a handy, compact trash/recycling bin that you can pop open, fill ’em up, and haul out your trash and recycling.  I’ve used them for backyard parties, camping trips, soccer games, you name it.

4.  If you don’t want pick up, leave it at home.  It’s quite simple, if it’s going to be too much effort for you to pick it up and haul it out, just take it to the actual dump.  Sure, it’s fun to go all Office Space on that old copier, tube tv or what ever, but if it’s in so many pieces you can or won’t clean it up, skip it.

5.  Do more.  Don’t limit your clean up efforts to your own trash. If you see some trash left behind, pick it up.  It’s a group effort.  I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that one rotten apple can spoil the whole bunch? Well a few rotten shooters can destroy open access.

6.  Respect the land.  Don’t shoot up signs, trees, cactus, structures, etc…  It’s disrespectful to the land and your fellow shooters.  Shooting on open access lands is a privilege, treat it as such.shot up sign

This is a problem we, the shooting community, need to take seriously.  We need to hold ourselves and one another accountable.  As open access areas get trashed that access will be removed.  If it becomes a big enough problem we might find laws being put in place to disallow shooting on all public lands.  Groups like Tread Lightly and The Dusty Bunch have on going campaigns to increase awareness and coordinate volunteer groups to clean up the trash that’s out there now.  We all need to do our part as a responsible gun owners, clean up after ourselves and think about getting involved in one of these volunteer groups to keep Arizona beautiful.

Here are some related articles and resources for more information about trigger trash and litter:

Shootin’ ya straight,

Arizona Ammo Source


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