We’ve enjoyed target shooting over the years, always looking for a shooting range or a remote location with a safe backdrop to discharge any weapon, whether rifle, pistol, or archery. And we always clean up any shells and targets that we use.
Anger and Disgust
So, it was with a bit of anger and disgust that we encountered the remains of a shooting spree on a National Wildlife Refuge a few days ago. Shotgun shells lay scattered everywhere, and vehicle tracks marked the shooters’ access onto the Refuge past signs prohibiting entry.
This wasn’t the first time we had come across such flagrant disregard for the environment and landscape. We’ve even written about past experiences, as well as our efforts to clean up after disrespectful shooters. The difference this time, however, was the targets.
Generally, targets of choice are paper if shooting on a range. For those shooting in remote areas, paper targets, empty cans, or cardboard boxes might suffice. These items, if left behind, can eventually degrade. But responsible shooters always pick up their targets and shells before leaving, setting an example for those who follow.
The targets our recent shooters thought of as fun, however, were filled plastic bottles of water, likely purchased by the case at a grocery store. We found several never-opened, full bottles that had been missed, along with the remains of dozens of bottles that had shattered under the impact of shotgun blasts. Several beer cans and bottles littered the surroundings as well, indicating the unfortunate likelihood that alcohol was combined with firearms.
Waste and Trash
Wasted water is bad enough, but the shreds of plastic can remain in the environment for centuries, harming wildlife and polluting their habitats. “Americans buy 29 billion water bottles a year,” says Live Life Healthy. “That leads to a big problem given the fact that water bottles do not biodegrade, but rather photodegrade. This means that it takes at least up to 1,000 years for every single bottle to decompose, leaking pollutants into our soil and water along the way.” Check out their website for “15 Ways Plastic Water Bottle Pollution is Destroying the Planet.”
Tarnish the Sport
Regardless of pollution and the waste of water, however, these shooters bestow a bad name on conscientious target shooters and gun owners who take their sport seriously and responsibly. In short, they tarnish the legitimacy of the sport.