Shooting on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land is a great way to reduce cost of range fees, potentially introduce new shooters to firearms, and to accomplish training that is typically not allowed on indoor ranges. There is no safety test, common sense test, or supervision on BLM land and that can make it dangerous!
Every time I go shooting on BLM Land, I work with the pessimistic assumption that someone will shoot me – and I plan backwards from the gunshot wound. First, I make the worst-case assumption – it is not an accident. From the moment you arrive until you leave, you need to have a loaded accessible firearm to defend yourself from an attack and to defend your firearms from theft. Thefts occur all the time and recently there has been rash of publicized shootings at open or uncontrolled ranges.
Second – I take the next worst-case scenario – it was an accident, but I am still shot. Regardless of how it happened, you have suffered a gunshot wound and require the training and appropriate equipment to deal with it. Applying direct pressure to the wound works most of the time, but “most” of the time is not something I am going to bet my life on. So – here is my checklist for shooting at BLM land:
1. A partner who is also competent in first aid and also armed.
2. Communication – no cell coverage – no shooting. Not having positive communication is not acceptable for me.
3. Medical equipment & training (The equipment is useless if you don’t know how to use it):
– Quick clot or Hemcon Impregnated Guaze.
– SOF or SWAT – T tourniquet.
– Regular pressure dressings
– Tampons (no punchline, they work!)
– Training: American Red Cross First aid & CPR is a good place to start – but a bit of trauma training will go a long way – especially if you have to treat yourself or tell someone else how to do it.
4. A plan:
– Location, directions and a map (Preferably a test drive with your partner) to the nearest trauma center. You can develop a solid plan using free resources like Google maps and a call to the local ranger station will save you a lot of time and hassle. Simply ask the questions after you’ve run the basics to ground – they have probably seen most of this stuff before, and can give you some advice, but only if you ask!
– Estimated response time for ambulance, Life flight (if its available), and any other medical facility that may be able to assist.
– Have a plan. Write up your training drills to be conducted – otherwise your hanging out in an area that is relatively high risk with no productive purpose.
5. Targetry – Bring your own as there is usually nothing there worth shooting and cars & junk heaps cause ricochets that can lead to needing your medical kit.
6. Eye protection & electronic hearing protection – you do not want to limit your awareness with ear muffs.
You can procure a personal trauma management kit that fits in a suit pocket for $50 dollars that covers the basics. Alternatively, you can put one together yourself, less the hemcom at the pharmacy. It is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it! Most controlled outdoor ranges & clubs have many of these things on standby – but ask the question and if they don’t have it, bring your own.
Regardless of where I shoot, I bring the medical kit. I know where my gear is, how to use it and am no longer dependent on the good graces of others. Shooting on BLM land is great resource – but don’t bet your life that someone else will be prepared to help you out if you need it. Take responsibility for your own safety and security. Learn to shoot responsibly, accept that accidents (or worse) can happen to anyone regardless of how careful or prepared they are – and do the best you can to mitigate the impact of accidents, or worse.
Have fun & stay safe!
~ Aegis Academy