The fall hunting seasons will soon be here so now’s a great time make sure your hunting rifle is still punching holes in the bulls-eye. DGIF’s sighting-in ranges will be open from September 1 to March 31. Ranges are located at the following Wildlife Management Areas: Clinch Mountain, Gathright, C.F. Phelps, White Oak, Amelia, and Chickahominy.
DGIF ranges are unstaffed and open to the public. If you go, it’s essential to read and obey all rules—they are posted at each range–and be courteous to your fellow sportsmen. The ranges get a lot of use this time of year, and David Dodson, DGIF Hunter Education Program Manager, stresses the importance of safety. “A crowded range can make it more difficult to keep a firearm’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Use extra caution and obey all posted range rules to keep everyone safe.” Here are some essential rules:
Shooters must wear eye and ear protection.
All firearms must remain unloaded with actions open until the shooter is seated at firing position. Loaded firearms must remain pointed down range. The muzzle should always be pointed in a safe direction.
Before going down range, be sure that everyone has stopped shooting. Call out loudly, “is it safe to go down range?”
The handling of any firearms is prohibited while anyone is beyond the firing line.
To access a DGIF Wildlife Management Area you will need a valid Virginia hunting, fishing or trapping license, a boating registration, or a DGIF Access Permit. Get yours at Go Outdoors Virginia.
Note: There are two of these ranges here in our area.
George Washington and Jefferson National Forest Sighting-In Ranges
Blacksburg Sighting-In Range: North of Blacksburg. Take U.S. Route 460 west for 3 miles, turn right on Route 621 (Craig Creek Road) and follow the signs to the sighting-in range on the left. This range offers two facilities; an 18-position rifle/pistol range designed for firing at stationary targets and a single position shotgun (trap) range. Eastern Divide Ranger District, Blacksburg Office, 552-4641.
Wythe Sighting-In Range: Near the Stoney Fork Campground on Route 717. Take the Route 717 Exit off I-77 (near Big Walker Mountain Tunnel), turn west onto Route 717. Go approximately 500 yards and turn right onto the road that leads to the state maintenance building. Before reaching the building, turn left, then go about a half-mile to the range. This range has six shooting benches with ranges up to 100 yards.
This sighting-in range will be open seven days a week from dawn to dusk with no fee. The Forest Service will supply the target frames. Shooters must bring their own target sheets and tape or staple gun to affix targets to the frames. A donation box is set up at the range to help defray the cost of the target frames, which must be replaced each month. Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, 276-783-5196.
–Ron Messina, Media Manager, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries