The Associated Press
Shooting watermelons and computer monitors might be OK for a TV show.
But the practice isn’t OK at the state’s public shooting ranges, said Frank Jezioro, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
Jezioro told the Charleston Gazette that the mess left by such shooting often isn’t cleaned up.
“They were intended for hunters, but they’re open to the public,” Jezioro said.
“I don’t think the problem is coming from our hunters who are sighting their rifles in. The problem is coming more from recreational shooters that come out there with hundreds of rounds of ammo, taking cantaloupes, watermelons, televisions and monitors so they can see things blow up like they do on TV,” he added.
The shooting range at the Pedlar Wildlife Management Area in Monongalia County was trashed so badly that the DNR closed it.
Jezioro believes news of the closure has helped curb the littering.
“People are learning that if they don’t help us take care of their range, they will lose it,” he said.
“After we closed that range, people (at other ranges) seemed to do a better job of policing it themselves. If they brought in cans and boxes to shoot at, they carried them back out. And they’re not bringing in as many TVs and other junk items as they used to,” Jezioro said.
Some people shoot things other than the ranges’ paper targets, such as the metal roofs that overhang shooting benches.
“The bottom line is that shooters need to be responsible, and to shoot up only targets put on backers,” Jezioro said. “And then they need to not shoot up the backers and not shoot through the roofs.”
The DNR does not have the manpower to supervise the ranges, so shooters are responsible for their own safety and conduct, Jezioro said.
“There just isn’t enough money to do it,” he said.
He proposed legislation several years that would have required shooters at DNR ranges to have hunting licenses in order to use the ranges at no cost.
Shooters who didn’t have a license would have been required to buy a range permit.
Jezioro said the National Rifle Association opposed the proposal and the Legislature dropped it.
He said that it might be time to again look for ways to increase funding for public ranges.