Sheriff's Office

PR #:
Date Issued:
Aug 18, 2021 - 11:50AM

For Immediate Release

Washoe County Sheriff reminds all outdoor enthusiasts to know shooting laws

Sarah Johns
Washoe County Sheriff's Office
Office: 775-785-6235
Cell: 775-391-0407

Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam is reminding all outdoor enthusiasts to be mindful of target shooting, and regulations pertaining to shooting in northern Nevada’s open space.

“While I understand shooting in northern Nevada’s open space has been a hobby for community members for generations – those who live in our region are acutely aware of wildfire danger,” said Sheriff Balaam. “I strongly discourage anyone from shooting when it is windy, hot, and dry.

“Moreover, for those who do go target shooting even in the most pristine conditions, outdoor enthusiasts need to be mindful of not only their safety, but others’ as well,” Balaam continued. “We have seen more building in areas where people may have considered safe to shoot for years making those areas no longer legal.

“It is a necessity for outdoor enthusiasts to understand the County ordinances governing discharge of firearms in congested areas, which are readily available for review on the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office mobile app.”

Deputies will be citing shooters found non-compliant with shooting regulations.

Recreational shooters are also asked to take precautions to avoid wildfires, including:

  • Be mindful of Red Flag Warning days – shooting is strongly discouraged
  • Bring water or a fire extinguisher
  • Choose locations with little vegetation, preferably dirt or gravel
  • Use soft targets, avoid steel core ammunition
  • Avoid shooting rocks, metal, pressurized containers, or exploding targets
  • Park your vehicle away from dry grass

Restrictions on the Discharge of Firearms:

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office would like to remind residents of county ordinances governing discharge of firearms in congested areas. Washoe County Code 50.092 to 50.154 states that it is unlawful to discharge:

  • Any gun, pistol, or rifle, with the exception of shotguns, air rifles, or B-B guns, within 5000 feet of an occupied dwelling.
  • Shotguns, air rifles, or B-B guns within 1000 feet of an occupied dwelling.
  • A firearm from, upon, over or across any federal or state highway or any county road or highway.
  • A firearm within a Nevada State Park, unless otherwise designated by the Administrator.
  • Within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, it is prohibited to discharge a firearm in or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area, or across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in a manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge, or into or within any cave.
  • If shooters follow those parameters; they are generally allowed to shoot in any area not designated as a "no shooting" or "congested area." It is important to understand these four key points:
  • A "congested area" is a geographic location where discharge of any firearm is prohibited. Because congested areas are generally densely populated, it has a high risk of personal injury.
  • A "restricted congested area" is a location where residents must be a minimum of 1000 feet from any occupied dwelling. In restricted congested areas, residents are allowed to discharge shotguns, air rifles and BB guns. A person is not allowed to discharge any gun, pistol, rifle or any other firearm in this area.
  • A "non congested area" is a location where residents must be 5000 feet away from an occupied dwelling. In these areas they may shoot guns, pistols, rifles, shotguns, air rifles, bb guns, or any other firearms.
  • Residents are encouraged to practice safe shooting in established and lawfully authorized and licensed rifle ranges, gun clubs or shooting galleries.

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Darin Balaam is the 27th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.


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