The DNR owns eight formal ranges around Wisconsin and operates about half of them; local clubs operate the others in partnership with the agency. No uniform rules apply, though the agency has been working since 2013 to develop some, said Keith Warnke, the DNR’s shooting sports coordinator.
DNR officials plan to present a wide-ranging package of regulations to their board next month that would prohibit the possession and consumption of alcohol on the ranges as well as prohibit shooters from using fully automatic weapons and tracer ammunition. Incendiary, exploding and breakable targets would be banned, although clay trap targets would be allowed. Shooters would have to unload their weapons when they’re off the firing line.
Warnke said the rules were spurred by a desire for consistency rather than any specific problems. Most of the regulations mirror rules at private ranges and gun clubs, he said.
I’m mixed on this, but lean toward the regulations as long as they are implemented correctly. On the one hand, this is a regulation in search of a problem and the DNR admits as much. On the other hand, having booze on the range is a very bad idea. That being said, many, if not most, ranges in Wisconsin have a club house of some sort in which booze is served, but every one I’ve seen already expressly forbids taking booze to the actual range or drinking before your weapon is unloaded, cased, and stored. There is also a strong social stigma against those who mix drinking and shooting.
As for the exploding targets and automatic weapons, those are usually not allowed except at specific ranges anyway because they are so destructive and a pain to clean up.
I suspect that these DNR regulations are redundant to the rules already in place at most ranges, so I don’t really have a problem with them setting uniform rules for DNR ranges anyway.