SAN DIEGO (CBS) — A sharp increase in the number of Southland wildfires are being sparked by outdoor target shooters, according to state fire officials.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports in 2011 so far, 10 fires have been caused by target shooting in San Diego County compared with two at the same time last year.

Mike Mullen with Cal Fire said oftentimes shooters won’t even bother to use plain common sense.

“They’re not looking actually behind their targets,” said Mullen. “These ammunition are hitting rocks, they’re actually going past the targets they were intended to hit into vegetation.”

Mullen advises shooters to only use areas specifically approved for target shooting and has proper brush clearance.

Hot weather can also play a factor in shooting safety.

“You don’t want to be outside in 100 degrees with 3 percent humidity, when fire conditions are ripe,” said Mullen.

Authorities also urged target shooters to shoot during early morning hours and on an actual target range.

Comments (15)
  1. Ed Guthrie says:

    what a bunch of bs, target shooters are causing all the wildfires? with lead and copper bullets? stop the scapegoating. target shooters don’t just shoot one shot and leave they tend to spend at least a couple of hours shooting and I think they would notice a fire, besides like I said they shoot lead and copper bullets. I would like to see these so called experts recreate this feat of starting a fire with bullets made of copper and lead! in fact I challenge them to do just that. prove your theory by demonstrating a fire being started in such a manner!. they have been able to use this excuse for far too long without substantiating their claim!

    1. Sage Advice says:

      Ed – “steel core” – happens all the time and can smolder for a good while before becoming an open fire. But I agree; ALL of these fires? I doubt it, but some? Maybe.

  2. BlazinBob says:

    Easy to do with steel jacketed ammunition, but yeah, not with lead/copper based bullets. Perhaps cheaper steel jacketed ammunition, mostly foreign import stuff, has become more popular and people don’t realize the danger of shooting this stuff in areas with dry brush downrange.

  3. Mo says:

    Haven’t seen any steel jacketed ammunition, foreign or otherwise, BlazinBob. That would wear the lands on your rifle out quicker than snot, and basically ruin it. There is, however, some steel core ammo out there. Still, it is encase in both copper and lead. Tracer ammo and incindiary, yes, but I agree with Ed, this is just another California hit on gun owners.

  4. Julian says:

    What do expect from the Alphabet network news? Blame the gun owners!

  5. Russ says:

    Fires probably caused by catalytic converters of San Diego County or city vehicles.

  6. Sage Advice says:

    Steel core – that’s the problem: it can happen. But I doubt ALL of it is from target shooters. While I am not apt to blame target shooters for all these ills, as I typically shoot .50BMG, .408 Cheytac, .338 Lapua, among others, even standards such as .308 Wichester, out of any number of McBros, EDM, Remington 700, or custom-receiver made rifles, on any given weekend – those above dicussing “jacketed” ammo, or correlating ammo to only being copper or lead, have no clue – and neither does this article for its lack of recommendation to avoid steel-core ammo. Most Winchester “White-box”, UMC, Federal and most ALL military surplus ammo is steel-core; meaning when it hits a rock, the internal core being ferrous metal and shattering/splitting on impact, it will create a spark of significant magnitude as such it will start a fire in brush. I’ve seen it happen numerous times, where range officers had to cease-fire and put out flames. And seriously? Steel jacketed ammo? No-such thing; only those ignorant of firearms would think up such a device, and only a knuckle-head would make such a creature, and only a dumber knucklehead would use it.


    1. rich says:

      i will not pretend to know what they are made of but more then once i saw brush fires start when i was in the army and out on a range with our M-16s so i wont say all fires with target shooting but i can buy that some were

  7. TT says:

    People that target shoot, do shoot for a couple hours – if they are responcible gun owners – They would be shooting in an appropriate area – where there is nothing to cause any damage to anything – Just dirt, and the targets they brought with them ….

  8. Jeff says:

    Why are you shooting at targets when there are so many illegal aliens around?

  9. Optic says:

    Yes rifle and pistol ammo can have steel jackets. The bullet jacket has a thin coating of softer metal such as copper or tin coating it. Even some Winchester white box 308 has a copper plated steel jacketed bullet. Take a magnet to the tip or side of the bullet of your rifle ammo.

    1. RICH says:

      the magnet is also attracted to LEAD so it is not STEAL

  10. Optic says:

    Rich, Hooah! Thank you for serving. The ammo you were shooting from the M16 is SS109(M855)NATO. It has a copper jacketed lead bullet with steel penetrator. The steel in this projectile will attract a magnet. There are 4 magnetic elements: Ni, Fe, Co, and Gd. Keep your powder dry and your knife sharp.

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