In 34 years with the Army, I have been either the "officer in charge" or the "safety officer" responsible for hundreds of firing ranges in the United States and Europe. I have seen over a dozen fires started at practice ranges — at the last one I was a brigade safety officer at a machine gun range in Texas.
Machine guns always fire tracer rounds and every fire I have seen at a practice range was either started by pyrotechnics or tracers. Pyrotechnic (explosive) targets are sold in sporting goods stores all over the U.S. as are tracer rounds. Both are fun to shoot, like fireworks are fun to shoot, but fireworks, tracers and pyrotechnics do not belong in Utah's wild lands during fire season. On the other hand, shooting conventional rounds is as combustible as hammering in a nail. And carpentry does not normally cause fires.
So people who think life isn't any fun if they can't shoot at pyrotechnic targets should only fire at professionally designed and managed ranges. On the other hand, those who believe that alarmism over sparks from conventional ammunition causing wildfires is an excuse to ban all shooting are believing fairy tales.
David J. Adamson, lieutenant colonel USAF (retired)
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company