Come on out to the AZGFD Outdoor Expo March 24-25

PHOENIX – The largest hands-on outdoor recreation expo in Arizona is coming soon! Dates are set for the Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo presented by Shikar Safari Club International. Come out Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25 to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. Admission and parking are free.

One big change this year is we’re expanding the size of our amAZing wildlife tent, which has been a huge attraction the past couple of years.

You’ll have the opportunity to see live “ambassador animals” from the department’s Wildlife Center and learn fun facts. As always, there will be plenty of hands-on fun for all ages like kids fishing tanks, target archery and other shooting sports in a safe, supervised, controlled environment on the range.

Get a feel for specialty shooting disciplines like clay target, cowboy action, practical pistol, black powder, and air gun. Check out the many firearms manufacturers, including some new brands this year.

Don’t miss the always popular cowboy mounted shooting competition. See OHV and ATV exhibits. Give kayaking a try at the “Lake Paddlemore” kayaking pond. Hike a field course and learn cool camping tips. Learn about boating and how to stay safe on the water. Talk to experts about Arizona’s wildlife, fishing, hunting and more. Visit with more than 100 exhibitors, including outdoor recreation and conservation groups, government agencies, and commercial vendors of outdoor products and services.

The department will auction off its annual collection of wildlife assets at the Expo. Sets of antlers, hides, skulls and head mounts, as well as wildlife artwork and taxidermy – all seized during law enforcement investigations, obtained from animals killed in vehicle collisions, or acquired through donations – will be put on the auction block both days. Funds generated from the auction are used to purchase equipment and technology used in the investigation of wildlife crimes and to protect the state’s wildlife resources.

Concessionaires will have food and beverages available for purchase, and many accept only cash — ATMs will be on site. There is a nominal charge for ammunition at some of the target shooting venues.

Expo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. The Outdoor Expo is easy to find, located on Carefree Highway, about 1/2 mile west of I-17 in Phoenix.

See more information about the 2018 Expo.

Tonto National Forest to implement restrictions on shooting targets

PHOENIX — The Tonto National Forest has announced it will implement reasonable restrictions on the types of shooting targets that will be allowed beginning Monday, November 20.

In an effort to reduce the amount of trash being left behind by recreational target shooters, only the following types of shooting targets will be allowed on the forest:

  1. Cardboard, and/or cardboard targets with reusable frames (excluding wooden pallets), which are removed from the site after shooting.
  2. Paper, and/or paper targets with reusable frames (excluding wooden pallets), which are removed from the site after shooting.
  3. Reactive targets designed to move or bounce along the ground when hit, are made of non-metallic materials and removed from the site after shooting.
  4. Self-healing targets, which are removed from the site after shooting.
  5. Metal targets specifically made for firearms. These targets are designed to swing, spin or fall down when struck and are removed from the site after shooting.
  6. Biodegradable clay targets.

“Over the last seven years, volunteer groups who organize and assist the forest with clean-up events have collected 192 tons of trash at these shooting sites,” said Neil Bosworth, forest supervisor. “We’re grateful for volunteers’ efforts, but all visitors should keep in mind that littering on forest land is prohibited and is a punishable offense.

“We want to keep areas open for target shooting. Target shooters can help by removing their targets and trash, including spent shell casings. This benefits the forest by protecting its resources and also fosters a positive image toward target shooting.”

Read the target restriction order on the Tonto National Forest’s website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/tonto/alerts-notices/?aid=44243.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility offering discount on National Hunting and Fishing Day

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is inviting recreational shooters to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 23 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

Arizona hunters and anglers who show their valid hunting or fishing license will receive an $8 discount for unlimited shooting (rifle only) from noon to 5 p.m. at the benchrest range, where steel targets will be placed at intervals up to 300 yards.

Those who don’t have a valid hunting or fishing license still are invited to come out and participate at the regular price ($15). All skill levels are welcome. There will be range safety officers available to assist all shooters. As a reminder, eye and ear protection is required and can be purchased at the shooting sports center.

The shooting sports can provide a lifetime of enjoyment with family and friends. It’s a safe, fun activity enjoyed by an estimated 50 million Americans, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The world-class Ben Avery Shooting Facility, one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities, drew more than 225,000 recreational shooters in 2016. The facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Highway in north Phoenix.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, an annual celebration of hunters and anglers, features a unique twist in 2017. Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for this year’s event, is asking hunters and anglers to take someone new hunting or fishing, or to their local shooting range.

Those who pledge to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and Sept. 23 will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or an outdoors getaway that includes a two-night stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Mo., several outdoor excursions and experiences, and passes to Johnny Morris’ new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. For more information, visit www.nhfday.org, or call (417) 225-1162.

Each new hunter and angler helps to fund conservation. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) (PDF) funds are comprised of excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment (including 11 percent on ammunition), the benefit of which comes right back to the states for habitat improvements, shooting ranges, boating access and more.

Upgrades coming to Ben Avery Shooting Facility’s main range

PHOENIX — When the Ben Avery Shooting Facility’s main range opens bright and early Aug. 30, recreational shooters will zero in on several improvements:

Earthen berms that serve as backstops for 67 shooting stations will be higher, more level and — most important — safer.
Target bumpers (which hold up the target frames) with re-stenciled lane numbers.
Refurbished shooting benches.

In order to complete more than $100,000 in improvements, the main range will be closed to the general public Aug. 14-29. The projects will be paid for through funding from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR). The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not receive general funds from the State of Arizona.

“While this work is going to inconvenience some folks, due to the extended duration of the closure, the work on the range is necessary to maintain the highest levels of standards of safety and stewardship that our customers have come to expect from the facility,” said Christopher Dean, range manager.

The two-week closure also will apply to the adjacent specialty ranges designated for user groups – Smallbore, Rifle 2 (which also will see improvements to its berm), Pistol 3 and Pistol 4.

Located on 1,650 acres in north Phoenix, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility is one of the nation’s largest publicly-operated shooting facilities, drawing more than 120,000 shooters each year. A City of Phoenix “Point of Pride,” the facility has received a five-star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges.

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov and click on “Shooting,” or call (623) 582-8313.

AZGFD Outdoor Expo next weekend

PHOENIX — Arizona’s largest hands-on outdoor expo is next week and it’s FREE! The Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo, presented by Shikar Safari Club International, will be held on Saturday, March 25, and Sunday, March 26, at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. The event offers loads of activities, presentations and exhibits for everyone from novices to seasoned outdoor recreationists.

The Expo has come a long way since its 2004 inception that had only a handful of attractions and exhibitors. It is now one of the north Valley’s biggest and best-attended events of the year.

Some of the things attendees can do include:

  • View live wildlife exhibits (hawks, reptiles, small mammals, more).
  • Give kayaking a try at the “Lake Paddlemore” kayaking pond.
  • Hike a field course and learn cool camping tips.
  • Take the kids to two huge catch-and-release fishing tanks.
  • Learn target archery.
  • Try out different firearms in a safe, controlled environment on the range.
  • Learn specialty shooting disciplines – clay target, cowboy action, and more.
  • Learn from informative talks on wildlife and outdoor recreation.
  • Cowboy mounted shooting match at Royce W. Anderson Family Arena.
  • View OHV exhibits, rock crawler demos, learn about responsible riding.
  • View boating exhibits and learn about watercraft safety.
  • Visit with more than 150 exhibitors.

Admission and parking are free, but people might want to bring a little cash for the variety of food and beverage concessionaires and other vendors. ATMs will be on-site.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 26. The Expo entrance is on Carefree Highway about a half-mile west of I-17. Just follow the signs.

The title sponsor of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo is Shikar Safari Club International. Gold Sponsors are OneAZ Credit Union and Shooter’s World/Daniel Defense.

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/expo.

2017 Winter Range set for February 20-26

PHOENIX — For those who harken back to the days of jingling spurs, the smell of authentic chuck-wagon cooking, and cowboys vying to see who’s the quickest on the trigger, then circle February 20-26 on your calendar.

That’s when Winter Range rides into town, transforming the Ben Avery Shooting Facility into a festive scene from the Old West where more than 1,000 competitors from around the world will take part in the 26th annual Single Action Shooting Society’s national championship of Cowboy Action Shooting.

Cowboy Action Shooting is one of the nation’s fastest-growing shooting sports and requires competitors to take their best shots with single-action revolvers, lever-action rifles and period shotguns. Competitors also must adopt a shooting alias suitable to a character or profession of the late 19th century, a Western movie star or an appropriate character from fiction — names like “Mudflat Mike,” “Goldie Jade” and “May B. Shecann” — and then dress in costume accordingly.

Winter Range will feature period militaria, exhibitions of Western skills and crafts, a fast-draw competition, and vendors purveying period clothing, hats and wigs, antiques, reproductions and more. There also will be roaming balladeers, trick horses and even a visit from Wyatt Earp, the great grand-nephew of his namesake, at noon Feb. 25.

A two-day mounted shooting event is expected to draw 100-plus competitors mounted on horses participating in their own arena Feb. 25-26.

A variety of food services will be available, including chuck-wagon cooking, barbecue and ice cream. Admission to Winter Range is free (parking is $5). BASF is located on Carefree Highway, west of Interstate 17. For more information, visit www.winterrange.com.

Local sportsmen’s groups awarded $75,000 in grants

sports-groupsPHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department has awarded $75,000 in grant funding for local sportsmen’s organizations to provide public, hands-on, mentored projects focused on the retention of new hunters and anglers.

Of 22 proposals submitted in this latest grant cycle, 16 were approved by a three-member panel that rated and scored the proposals. The grants were awarded through a competitive application process that closed July 14.

“The Local Sportsmen’s Group grant program is an investment in local organizations that, day in and day out, are teaching people how to be safe, ethical and responsible hunter-angler conservationists,” said Doug Burt, hunting and shooting sports program manager. “We wish we could fund them all, but the demand always exceeds our available funds.”

The department is committed to developing and retaining the next generation of hunter-angler conservationists. A growing body of science points to the need for multiple experiences, social support and the mentoring required to develop hunter-angler conservationists. The 16 projects approved meet those objectives.

Burt pointed out that these organizations represent the “boots on the ground,” or the backbone of wildlife conservation and habitat restoration in Arizona. Many are involved in the building of water catchments, making “wildlife-friendly” fence modifications, and reaching out to the public through advocacy and education.

The following projects have been awarded:

  • Anglers United Inc., “Just for Kids Fishing Festival,” awarded $4,500.
  • Arizona Deer Association, “ADA Youth Deer / Elk Hunters Camp,” awarded $5,513.
  • Arizona Elk Society, “AES Junior Elk Camp Units 6A/5B,” awarded $3,900.
  • Ben Avery Clay Busters, “Upland Bird Hunting for Women and Youth,” awarded $2,717.
  • CouesWhitetail.com, “2016 Women’s Javelina Hunting Camp,” awarded $4,300.
  • Desert Christian Archers, “Desert Christian Archers 2016 Javelina Camp,” awarded $4,700.
  • Kahuna Kids, “Mentoring Kids Fishing Derby,” awarded $2,368.
  • Mule Deer Foundation, “Mule Deer Foundation Youth Camps,” awarded $16,500.
  • Southern Arizona Quail Forever, “Southern Arizona Quail Forever Youth Quail Camp,” awarded $3,390.
  • Southwest Fur Harvesters, “SWFH November Youth Trappers Camp,” awarded $5,122.
  • Youth Outdoors Unlimited, “Junior Javelina, Small Game & Predator Camp Units 20C, 18B, and 16A,” awarded $3,900.
  • Youth Outdoors Unlimited, “Junior Deer / Javelina Camp Units 18B & 20C,” awarded $2,515.
  • Youth Outdoors Unlimited, “Unit 1 Squirrel Camp,” awarded $2,000.
  • Youth Outdoors Unlimited, “Wallow Fire Turkey Science and Hunting Camp Units 1 & 27,” awarded $6,575.
  • Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club, “2016 Cibola Junior Waterfowl Camp,” awarded $2,500.
  • Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club, “Youth Small Game Camp,” awarded $4,500.

To learn more about the annual Local Sportsmen’s Group grant program, as well as a listing of Outdoor Skills Network recruitment and retention events, visit www.azgfd.gov/LSG.

There is no cost to Arizona taxpayers for the Local Sportsmen’s Group grant program. The program is funded through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, hunt permit-tags and stamps, and is an investment in the continuance of wildlife conservation efforts and outdoor recreation participation in Arizona. Game and Fish does not receive any of the state’s general funds and operates on a user-pay, public-benefit model.

Thursday is deadline to apply for Local Sportsmen’s Group grants

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds local sportsmen’s organizations that the deadline to apply for $75,000 in annual grant funding is 5 p.m. (MST) Thursday, July 14. Postmarks do not count.

The purpose of the grant program is to support organizations in providing public, hands-on, mentored projects that provide continued skill development for those who just started hunting and fishing.

The priority funding focus of this year’s grant program is on moving beginners from the recruitment stage to the retention stage of the Adoption Sequence. Projects and events that involve the pursuit or harvest of wildlife or fish with a license are being requested. Grants will be awarded through a competitive application process and must be open to the public.

To apply, download an application packet from www.azgfd.gov/LSG. Completed applications should be submitted by e-mail to: dburt@azgfd.gov. Call Doug Burt, hunting and shooting sports program manager, at (623) 236-7487 to confirm receipt.

Burt said there are many organizations that do great work, but lack the funding to carry out the important work of passing down the hunting and angling heritage to the next generation of wildlife conservationists and stewards. The Local Sportsmen’s Group grant program is the Department’s and the Commission’s commitment to the important role they play in conservation.

“Based on the developing science and data in recruitment and retention, there is a need for programs that provide beginners with the next progressive step necessary to become self-reliant as a hunter or angler,” Burt said. “Local sportsmen’s organizations offer a perfect solution because they are part of the community and can provide the continued skills and social support that beginners need.”

There is no cost to Arizona taxpayers for this grant program. Game and Fish does not receive any of the state’s general tax funds and operates under a user-pay, public-benefit model. The grant program is an investment in the continuance of wildlife conservation efforts and outdoors recreation participation in Arizona.

To learn more about how hunters, anglers, shooters and boaters fund wildlife conservation, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/federal-aid-cycle.shtml.

BASF introduces exciting target-shooting experience

Saturday_Steel_-_BASF_1PHOENIX — “Clang!”

That distinctive sound of a bullet hitting steel soon will be ringing out every third Saturday of the month on the small bore range at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix.

Christopher Dean, range manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said he hopes a new target-shooting experience – “Saturday Steel” – will hit the mark with recreational shooters of all ages and skill levels, beginning Saturday, May 21.

“This is meant to be a fun opportunity,” Dean said. “There isn’t a competitive element. There isn’t a scoring element. This is just an opportunity to shoot some steel targets in an interesting presentation.”

There’s nothing quite like the appeal of steel. Whereas paper targets are great for showing where a bullet hits, the “clang!” from hitting a steel target provides immediate feedback and gratification. That gratification is further enhanced by seeing that target swing and spin.

“We want to create a shooting opportunity in a non-pressure environment,” Dean said. “Some people don’t want to shoot competitively, but they like competitive shooting.”

For a flat fee of $20 for adults, $13 for youths (price includes the $7 BASF daily range pass), customers will have the unlimited option to shoot from several stations, with distances varying from 15 to 85 yards. A range safety officer or mentor will be available to assist customers at each station. Shooting hours will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Time will be allotted for each customer to shoot one full magazine and reload up to two times, if they have extra magazines loaded and ready. Those customers who are shooting revolvers will be able to reload using speed loaders. Only rifles and carbines chambered in .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle or pistol caliber ammunition will be allowed. Not allowed: rimfire magnum cartridges, handguns chambered in any caliber larger than .45, and magnum loads.

In addition, “hot” loads that could penetrate or deform the steel targets, as well as steel core ammunition of any caliber, are not allowed.

Youths also must adhere to the following stipulations:

1 All participating youths must be accompanied by an adult.
2 No youths under 5 will be permitted on the range.
3 Youths 5 to 9 will be limited to shooting rimfire cartridges in .22-Short, Long or Long Rifle only.
4 Youths 10 and older will be allowed to shoot other handgun calibers, with close adult supervision.

As a reminder, all firearms must be cased or properly holstered before entering the range. Hearing and eye protection also is required.

Dean said targets will come in various sizes and shapes, including silhouettes, circles, squares and rectangles, each presenting a unique challenge.

“If you come back the following third Saturday of the month, it’s going to be a totally different presentation,” Dean said. “It’s not going to be the same. We’re going to make it interesting so there’s a reason to come back and shoot again.”

For more information about BASF, call (623) 582-8313 or visit https://www.azgfd.com/Shooting/BASF.