Backyard Shooting Ranges

Backyard Shooting Ranges

Backyard Shooting Ranges

Backyard shooting ranges are very popular in Florida.  Many people have seen or heard of shooting ranges on residential property. What do you need to do to ensure you can shoot outside your own home?

Backyard Shooting Ranges Can Lead to Encounters with Law Enforcement.

Generally, it is a misdemeanor for any person to shoot a firearm in any public place or right of way of any paved public road, highway, or street. See Florida Statute § 790.15. It is also a crime to recklessly or negligently shoot outdoors on property used primarily as a dwelling or zoned exclusively as residential. This includes your own property if it is a dwelling or in a residential area. This is the case, even if you have set up a backyard shooting range. Any person who recreationally discharges a firearm outdoors, including target practice, in an area that is primarily residential in nature and has a residential density of one or more dwelling units per acre commits a misdemeanor, unless one of three circumstances apply. For the purposes of this article, only one of these exceptions is important.

Do Backyard Shooting Ranges Create a Reasonably Foreseeable Risk of Harm?

You can shoot on your own residential property, if under the circumstances, there is no reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property. This means that you must ensure that your shooting poses no reasonably foreseeable danger to life or property. It is not enough to be confident you will hit a target capable of stopping a bullet. It is a crime to shoot on residential property even if no harm is caused. If there is a reasonably foreseeable risk that somebody could have been hurt or property could have been damaged then a crime is committed. Therefore, only fire at a target in front of a backstop or in a location where a stray bullet will not foreseeably cause any unintended harm.

Remember, you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun, and bullets typically do not stop until they have hit something. Firing towards a fence that lies between your home and your neighbor’s home is one obvious example of an unacceptable risk. Be absolutely certain that there is no reasonable way your gunshot will cause any unintended damage or injury to people or property. There are very few residential properties where you can safely shoot unless your target is in front of something that is certain to stop a bullet and which is large enough that you will not miss.

Practical Tip

While Florida law may permit you to create your own backyard shooting range on your own property under these circumstances, it is important to remember that your neighbors or any other people in the area are likely to call the police when they hear gunshots. If this happens, the police will always come to investigate. You may find yourself in court having to prove that you were acting reasonably and safely.

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