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SHERIFF’S CORNER: Safety helps make perfect for shooting/target practice

Our office frequently receives calls about shooting/target practicing and occasionally reports of damage done by a stray bullet.

Target practicing is a great way to improve your aim and learn to understand the strength of your weapon, but it should be done safely and respectfully. Cass County does not have a specific ordinance in reference to target practicing, but state statue does apply.  

We are often asked about legal shooting distance from a building or a residence and shooting restrictions during certain times of the day and night. There are no restrictions or laws pertaining to shooting distance around buildings or residences. Target practice or shooting is not restricted by time of day with the exception of during big game hunting season, when specific restrictions apply. 

As we were reminded from an unfortunate training accident with a Lino Lakes police officer, it is also important to pay attention to potential ricochet concerns, too.  

In addition to state statute and good common sense, the NRA offers the following safety tips when shooting or target practicing: 

• Know your target and what is beyond. Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap, including houses and buildings. 

• Know how to use the gun safely. Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and how to remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling. 

• Be sure the gun is safe to operate. Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep.

• Use only the correct ammunition for your gun. Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun may be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition. 

• Never use alcohol or over-the-counter prescription or other drugs before or while shooting. These substances impair normal mental or physical bodily functions and must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns. 

The safest method for target practice is at a range or sportsman club. An internet search for “gun ranges in Cass County MN” or the DNR website can provide you with a listing of sportsman’s clubs and gun ranges available in Cass County. 

If you have specific questions you would like answered in this column or in person, feel free to contact me anytime at, (218) 547-1424 or (800) 450-2677 or by mail at Cass County Sheriff’s Office, 303 Minnesota Ave W., P.O. Box 1119, Walker MN 56484.