Shooting Outdoors and Cleaning Up Afterwards

The Great Outdoors, Mother Nature, or, as I like to call it, God's Creation … no matter what you call it it's a great place to be. And, to be honest, shooting outside, as opposed to an indoor range, is an excellent experience.

Being outside in the open air while you're shooting does a couple of things for you. First, you don't have to worry about if your local indoor range has proper ventilation diverting gasses and lead particles away from your face and, therefore, your lungs. Expanding on this further, no matter what anyone tells you about their venting system, it could be flawed.

What I mean, is that I went shooting a few times at a local indoor range when I lived up in Pennsylvania that was eventually shut down because their ventilation system was nearly non-existent. It would have cost them so much to fix in order to re-open that they just stayed closed.

I then started to shoot outdoors and never looked back. Don't get me wrong, I still shoot indoor from time to time, but I'd much prefer to be outside.

A side benefit of shooting outdoors is usually lessened restrictions on what you can do. When many indoor ranges have restrictions on coming out of the holster and shooting, no such restrictions are present outdoors, unless it's at an outdoor range with those rules put in place.

And even then, they usually have an area where those things can be practiced off to the side or in its own shooting area, complete with berm.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when shooting outdoors. The first and most important thing to remember if you're outside, not at a gun club, is to always make sure you're shooting into a berm or something designed to stop bullets from traveling and eventually hitting other people or things.

We've seen and read stories where people thought that, because they were in the desert or other area with presumably nobody around, they were safe to go shooting. Tragically, people got hurt (like in this story). So making sure you are shooting in a safe spot is of utmost importance.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it's necessary to do our very best to pick up all of the stuff we brought with us, to include spent brass. The way I try to look at things, is that I like to leave things cleaner than when I arrived.

As someone who shoots outside on a regular basis, this means removing all trash, brass, pulling down paper targets so they don't blow away, pack up empty ammo boxes, staples or tacks that got away from you, and anything else that you may have brought with you.

The brass is the most annoying part of this as it's the most difficult part to pick up. And if you're shooting on a grass bed, chances are good that you're missing at least some of it. This is amplified if you're like me and shoot several hundreds of rounds at a time, are shooting while moving, etc.

It's important to get it all up to the best of your ability because it's not natural to the environment and some wild animals will eat almost anything to see how it tastes.

And, people who litter suck.

Shooting outside is a good thing to do and gives you much-needed freedom to train how you should be, instead of just at a static, non-moving target, if you can find a spot where you can safely do it. And as stated a moment ago, picking up after yourself is a necessity to keep the outdoors in pristine condition for future generations.

Leave your thoughts about shooting outdoors in the comments below.

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Bryan Yerke on July 21, 2020 at 9:24 am

    To facilitate picking up brass outdoors, buy a large plastic tarp about 8×10 or 10×12 and spread it on the ground covering the area where brass will land. If you are moving and shooting or practicing stages you may want several, each spread near the shooting station. Midway sells a a wire brass collector on a broomstick that greatly expedites collecting brass off of the tarps. I lose very little brass when doing it this way.

    • scottm1 on August 8, 2020 at 3:46 am

      Love your brass collector suggestion – I didn’t find it in a search at Midway, but found one called the Brass Wizard at Brownells – Thanks for a great suggestion!

  2. Thin Blue Line on July 21, 2020 at 10:57 am

    I couldn’t agree more! I belong to a great local range with three outdoor ranges including a 300 yard rifle range (rare where I am). The only requirement is to clean up after you shoot. Still can’t figure out why some members still don’t do it!

  3. Mark Paolino on July 21, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Also when target shooting and hunting I am trying to get away from lead. I know in wet lands you have to use tungsten or copper, but why not for all shooting or at least hunting. The frangible rounds we use at the department are filled with an inexpensive tin core. I do use good lead core ammo for duty, but you should for duty.

  4. Bob Randolph on July 21, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    I use a metal detector to locate my spent casings. i normally find all of mine and put them back in the tray they came out of to keep count. No one else uses my location so there are only my casings there. When I miss one, I normally find it the next time I clean up.

  5. sturgissteele on July 22, 2020 at 6:42 am

    Gosh, one day I was a guest of a member at the local conservation club and had to leave rather quickly. I thanked him for having me over put away all my things and left. A short time later I realized I didn’t help pick up the brass! Doh! He was gracious and told me not to worry. Now I’m a member and will not forget to pick up the brass! (Or my targets, either.)

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