Widely growing popularity among Douglas County Youth is the sport of shooting firearms. Douglas County offers 340 shooting projects through the county’s 4-H sport shooting program. Led by 60 adult volunteers, the fastest growing 4-H program in Douglas County is designed to introduce kids to guns early, and teach them that firearms are safe when used and handled properly.

A Look at Sport Shooting in Douglas County

About 200 youth participants actively take part in the program, which is growing locally and nationally with Colorado leading the country in programs of its kind. Many of the programs members have trained for competitions and championships. The program is facing difficulties growing along the southern Front Range, (which includes Douglas, El Paso, Park, Teller, and Jefferson County) because safe, outdoor shooting space is not available for practice and training.

Douglas County does not have public outdoor shooting space, so many of the 4-H shooters are forced to practice on a friend’s private property near Highway 105 in the southern part of the county. Recreational shooting is legal in rural parts of Douglas County, as long as the bullet does not leave the private property. Providing a space for over 200 youths to participate in the recreational shooting is now necessary for the peace of rural communities, and the resourcefulness of 4-H shooters.

According to county officials, the need for legal public shooting space is crucial in helping to prevent accidental deaths and the destruction of the land. In an effort to allow safe and responsible sport shooting in areas across the southern Front Range, the board recently voted to participate in what is known as the Southern Shooting Partnership.

Formed in 2015, the organization is made up of a group of land-owning public agencies, whose main focus is on issues surrounding recreational shooting. The partnership includes agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, Denver Water, Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, and the five southern Front Range counties.

The goal is to create multiple outdoor locations where shooting is legal and safe. Though the organization and movement have gained traction and a following, developing designated safe recreational shooting areas will not be a quick or easy process.

Education is key. The more people and government officials that can be educated on the need and benefits of the partnership, the more favor the organization can build for fulfilling the need. Included in the education process, the partnership must first identify locations where it would be inappropriate and to shoot firearms. Then focus heavily on the education of safely handling and shooting firearms.

Those in the community who advocate for this sport are moving closer to getting the resources they need to safely shoot in public areas in the community. Their goal is to protect the land, protect people, and educate everyone on the safety and sport that is made available by the use of firearms.