Leave It Better Than You Found It

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf

Park Sign Shot
With today’s political atmosphere it seems every time we turn around, someone or some group is attempting to chip away at our hunting rights and our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

We as hunters and shooters need to set a good example so non-hunters and non-shooters see us for what 99.9% of us are, responsible gun owners.

Until about three years ago, I did most of my target shooting at public shooting ranges, where, on occasion, even the strongest pro-gun supporter would see things that would make them frown.  I’ve seen everything from microwaves and TVs to Igloo coolers left discarded at a public shooting range, riddled with bullet holes.

Now it’s obvious that the people that do these things are only a fraction of the shooting public. But to non-shooters/hunters that witness the littered up landscape there is always the possibility that they will assume that gun owners are irresponsible.

For years now, I have had a rule for myself.  Leave the range looking better than I found it.
I always bring a garbage bag with me when I go to the range and pick up what others have left behind. I’ve picked up cans, bottles, wood, glass, cardboard, shot up targets, shotgun hulls, just about anything you can think of, including a stuffed “Barney” the purple dinosaur.

I have to admit, it makes me angry when I see that someone has shot holes in the shooting bench or shot up the posts that hold the target backing. Shooters have to remember that public ranges are provided by the tax payer and if the cost to maintain these facilities becomes too expensive that privilege can be taken away.

Today I mostly shoot at a private gun club, paid for and maintained by the members.  It is usually left in pretty decent shape, but occasionally I still have to pick up some cans, milk jugs or targets that someone has left behind.

If you ever see someone doing damage to one of our shooting facilities or littering up our ranges, I strongly encourage you to report them to the appropriate authorities.  Why let the fraction of one percent mess things up for the rest of us who appreciate having a place to shoot?

I challenge each person that reads this to please help leave a good impression when we go shooting. Let’s all be safe ethical hunters and responsible shooters and leave our shooting ranges looking better than we found them.

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11 Responses to Leave It Better Than You Found It

  1. Al says:

    good article, spot on.
    you cant even leave a refuse container for people to throw stuff into without being able to see through it the next day.
    hope your words are read and example followed.


  2. David Ruppel says:

    I can never figure out why some people can’t pick up after themselves. I would feel so guilty if I left even a paper target at a public range or a gravel pit. It is littering no different then throwing your MC D’s Hamburger wrapper out your car window driving down the highway.
    Some people just SUCK! Good article, thank you!


  3. Pingback: Leave It Better Than You Found It — Sierra Bullets | Rifleman III Journal

  4. Tim says:

    Good story and Great point! I think the same each time I see a rural Stop sign or other highway marker with the spray of pellets or significant hole made left as evidence for those who wish to label every sportsperson as a callous, non-caring, vandal … or worse.


  5. Daryl Davis says:

    For years I too belonged to a private club, paying dues and fees to use the range and paying league fees to shoot in their leagues. All the time I saw the same stuff going on, from shooting benches with bullet holes to target boards so shot up you couldn’t pin up a target because a ‘member’ blew the legs off. Litter and junk discarded because some ‘members felt it was someone else’s job to clean up after them… That went on for a number of years until built my own private range on my own property, complete with covered shooting benches and backstops from 1/2: thick high alloy plate with 5 feet of clay in front of them.

    Now I completely control who shoots (my hunting buddies) and no one else. I can build loads and enjoy my facility without the constant outside interference of rude and irresponsible firearms owners and no, I don’t belong to a ‘club’ anymore. Interestingly, the VP of the club I no longer belong to shoots on my range regularly. He too likes the lack of rude and piggy people.

    Not everyone can do what I did, but if you can, it makes the hobby that much more enjoyable.


    • I hope to in the future but right now I’m stuck shooting at the club. – Gary Prisendorf, Ballistic Technician


      • Daryl Davis says:

        My other issue with a club is the politics. Never been politically correct and have zero patience with playing that game, especially at a gun club. No politics on my range. Here are the rules of engagement. Don’t like it…see ya.

        Then, my other deal is most ranges around here are limited to 100-150 yards and that don’t work for me. I always zero at 200. You can always do a drop chart to regress back to 100 or 50, but at 200, it seperates the average run of the mill spread from the accuracy components.

        I know if I’m consistently shooting sub moa at 200, anything less is even better and that gives me more confidence in the field.

        Gary, when you finally decide to ‘roll your own’, there are some very good shooting bench plans on the net btw.


  6. CLAY says:

    So true I see the same at the range I shoot at , thank you for writing this peice.


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