By Susan Bromley
Brandon Twp.- A 5-gallon bucket with nothing but trees behind it does not constitute a proper backstop for target shooting.
A township resident learned this lesson the hard way after being issued a misdemeanor citation for reckless discharge of a firearm after he was found shooting a .22 caliber rifle at the bucket.
“A 5-gallon bucket is not considered a proper backstop,” said Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Greg Glover, Brandon substation commander. “That bullet (.22 caliber) has been known to travel a mile in distance and shooting into overgrown grass and small trees is not considered a proper backstop. If you’re shooting into a 5-yard pile of dirt, we would deem that a proper backstop. Obviously, this is a safety concern for the welfare of neighbors surrounding them.”
The incident was reported about 5:56 p.m., July 1 in the 700 block of Lockwood Road and responding deputies arrived at the suspect location to see an orange 5-gallon bucket with a target about 75 yards to the east of where two green chairs were located just outside the garage door on the south side of the house. They made contact with the homeowner, who said prior to the arrival of the deputies he had been sitting in one of the chairs and shooting his .22 Rossi rifle, aiming the weapon at the orange bucket.
He stated he felt the trees located behind the target were a sufficient backstop since no houses were directly behind it.
The deputies observed the bucket and target sitting next to the tree line, with several shrubs and small trees behind it, but no dirt or any kind of backstop. In the report it was noted that rounds fired at this target would travel freely until striking a tree or another type of vegetation. Located about 40 yards south of the target on a neighboring property was a utility barn.
The issue of backstops and amendments to the current township ordinance addressing weapons were topics of discussion at a standing room only Feb. 6 township board meeting, at which Glover said changes were being proposed due to numerous complaints from township residents regarding target shooting and lack of proper backstops, as well as excessive firing of weapons occurring at all hours. However, the board rejected the first reading of the ordinance after objections from the crowd.
The current ordinance states in part, “It shall be unlawful for any person to recklessly or heedlessly or willfully or wantonly use, carry, handle or discharge any firearm without due caution and circumspection for the rights, safety or property of others.”
The man who was target shooting at the bucket has been given a citation for reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or fines.