Public Ranges on WMAs & National Forests
The Department has public sighting-in ranges available at the Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) listed below. These ranges were built for sportsmen to properly sight-in their firearms before going afield during the hunting seasons. All Department public sighting-in ranges are handicapped accessible. Range rules and hours of operation are prominently posted at each range to promote shooting safety and proper care of the facilities. Range users must adhere to posted rules and hours of operation. No reservations are required. Any person 17 years of age or older accessing a WMA or DWR fishing lake must have in their possession a valid hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license; current boat registration; or Access Permit. Shooters are limited to one hour of shooting when range is full. Be sure to bring your own paper targets, cardboard backing, clothespins, and tape. In order to help maintain the ranges, all target materials and brass must be removed for proper disposal off site. “Leave No Trace.” Specific hours and dates of operation, range rules, scheduled closures, travel directions, and other information is posted on the Department website at www.virginiawildlife.gov/hunting/sighting-in-ranges.
The use of firearms at public ranges during closed general firearms hunting seasons is restricted to the area within the established range boundaries for target shooting purposes only. Such weapons are required to be unloaded and cased or dismantled on all national forest and Department-owned lands outside the range boundaries during this period.
Department Sighting-In Ranges
Amelia Wildlife Management Area:
Six covered bench positions from 25-100 yards for rifle, muzzleloader, and shotgun patterning at stationary paper targets; area for clay bird shooting (bring own thrower and targets). Pistol shooting is prohibited. General dates of operation are September 1 to March 31. With the exception of state holidays, the range is closed on Mondays for maintenance. For information contact: Verona Regional Office, (540) 248-9360.
Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area:
Ten covered bench shooting positions from 25-100 yards for rifle, muzzleloader, and shotgun sighting-in at stationary paper targets. Additional covered area for stand up shotgun patterning. Pistol and clay target shooting are prohibited. General dates of operation are September 1 to March 31. With the exception of state holidays, the range will be closed on Mondays for maintenance. For information contact: Charles City Regional Office, (804) 829-6580.
Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area:
Six covered bench-rest stations from 25-100 yards for rifle, muzzleloader, and shotgun patterning at stationary paper targets. Pistol and clay target shooting are prohibited. General dates of operation are September 1 to March 31. With the exception of state holidays, the range will be closed on Mondays for maintenance. Snow and ice may result in temporary range closures in January, February, and March. For information contact: Marion Regional Office, (276) 783-4860.
Gathright Wildlife Management Area:
Six covered bench-rest stations from 25-100 yards for rifle, muzzleloader, and shotgun patterning at stationary paper targets. Pistol and clay target shooting are prohibited. General dates of operation are September 1 to March 31. With the exception of state holidays, the range will be closed on Mondays for maintenance. For information contact: Verona Regional Office, (540) 248-9360.
C. F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area:
Six covered bench-rest stations from 25-100 yards for rifle, muzzleloader, and shotgun patterning at stationary paper targets. Pistol and clay target shooting are prohibited. General dates of operation are September 1 to March 31. With the exception of state holidays, the range will be closed on Mondays for maintenance. For information contact: Fredericksburg Regional Office, (540) 899-4169.
White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Area:
Six covered bench positions from 25-100 yards for rifle, muzzleloader, and shotgun patterning at stationary paper targets. Pistol and clay target shooting are prohibited. General dates of operation are September 1 to March 31. With the exception of state holidays, the range will be closed on Mondays for maintenance. For information contact Forest Regional Office, (434) 525-7522.
NOTE: The Department reserves the right to manage the use and access of these facilities as deemed appropriate. These facilities are subject to emergency closures.
National Forest Shooting Ranges
These ranges are open sunrise to sunset during the operating season. Users must bring their own paper targets to all ranges. Use stationary paper targets only. Moving targets, including skeet and/or clay targets, are prohibited except at the Blacksburg Range where clay targets are allowed. No tracer or incendiary type ammunition is allowed. Shooters under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. All of the ranges have vault toilet restroom buildings. None of these sites have drinking water.
The Blacksburg Shooting Range in Montgomery County:
Two facilities: an 18-lane rifle/pistol range with covered benches for firing at stationary paper targets for up to 100 meters, and a single position shotgun (trap) range for shooting clay targets. Archery is allowed at the shotgun range. Shooting benches and restrooms are wheelchair accessible although some shooters will need assistance with hanging and retrieving targets. This year-round range is closed on Tuesdays for cleaning. For information contact: Eastern Divide Ranger District, (540) 552-4641.
The Bath County Shooting Range:
A 5-lane range with covered benches for shooting stationary paper targets at 50-100 yards. Pistols and rifles are allowed. Shotguns are allowed only when shooting at a stationary paper target. Shooting at any moving target is strictly prohibited. This range is open year round. For information contact: Warm Springs Ranger District, (540) 839-2521.
The Hite Hollow Shooting Range in Augusta County:
A 6-lane rifle range for shooting approximately 50, 100, and 150 yards, and a 2-lane pistol range for shooting approximately 25 yards. Both of these facilities have covered benches. This range is open from May 1 through December 31. For information contact: North River Ranger District, (540) 432-0187.
The Low Moor Shooting Range in Alleghany County:
Provides a 6-lane rifle range for shooting 50 and 100 yards, and a 4-lane pistol range for shooting up to 25 yards. Shotguns are allowed only when shooting at a stationary paper target. Shooting at any moving target is strictly prohibited. Both ranges offer covered benches. This range is open year round. For information contact: James River Ranger District, (540) 839-2521.
The Pott’s Slope Shooting Range in Craig County:
Provides a 9-lane, covered bench, rifle and pistol range for shooting targets at 25, 50, and 100 yards. No shotguns or moving targets are allowed. Shooting benches and restrooms are wheelchair accessible although some shooters will need assistance with hanging and retrieving targets. This range is open year round, but is closed on Tuesdays for cleaning. For information contact: Eastern Divide Ranger District, (540) 552-4641.
The West Side Shooting Range:
Provides 8 shooting lanes of various lengths for rifles, shotguns and pistols. All 8 lanes have covered shooting benches. No moving targets are allowed. This range is open from May 1 to December 31. For more information contact: North River Ranger District, (540) 432-0187.
The Wythe Shooting Range:
Offers 10 lanes with covered benches. Five lanes allow shooting from 5-25 yards. The remaining five lanes offer shooting from 5-100 yards. Pistols and rifles may be used on any lane depending upon the shooting distance desired. No shotguns, moving targets, or archery allowed. The range is open year round, but closed from daylight to noon on Wednesdays for cleaning. For more information, contact: Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area (800) 628-7202.
NOTE: On National Forests, please remember firearms may be discharged for target practice only at established shooting ranges. Discharging a firearm in a developed recreation site is dangerous and prohibited. For more information contact: the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest Headquarters at 5162 Valleypointe Parkway, Roanoke, VA 24019, or call (540) 265-5100.
For up-to-date information on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, visit fs.usda.gov/gwj.
Day use fees are required on certain recreation areas. Please visit the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/gwj, or contact the appropriate office below for more information on fees and seasonal pass information.
Supervisor’s Office - (540) 265-5100
Clinch - (276) 679-8370
North River - (540) 432-0187
Glenwood-Pedlar - (540) 291-2188
James River - (540) 839-2521
Lee - (540) 984-4101
Mt. Rogers National
Recreation Area - (276) 783-5196
Eastern Divide - (540) 552-4641
Warm Springs - (540) 839-2521
Regulations Specific to National Forest and Wildlife Department Lands
It shall be unlawful to have in possession a firearm or any hunting weapon which is not unloaded and cased or dismantled on all National Forest lands, all Department-owned lands and on lands managed by the Department under cooperative agreement statewide except during the period when it is lawful to take bear, deer, grouse, pheasant, quail, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, turkey, waterfowl or migratory game birds on these lands. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders on Legal Use of Firearms & Archery Tackle)
It shall be unlawful to possess or transport any loaded firearm or loaded hunting weapon in or on any vehicle at any time on National Forest lands or Department-owned lands. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders and loaded weapons definitions on Legal Use of Firearms & Archery Tackle).
“Hunting weapon” is any weapon allowable for hunting as defined in 29.1-519 of the Code of Virginia.
The word “possession” shall include, but not be limited to, having any firearm or weapon used for hunting in or on one’s person, vehicle or conveyance.
It is unlawful to chase with a dog or train dogs on National Forest lands or Department-owned lands except during authorized hunting, chase or training seasons that specifically permit these activities on these lands.
Collecting any portion of the American ginseng plant for personal or commercial use from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and Department-owned lands is prohibited.
Commercial hunting or fishing outfitter activities on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests require a permit from the National Forest.
Hunter access roads on Department lands seasonally open to motor vehicles will be open (weather permitting) from the last Saturday in September to the 2nd Saturday in February and the 1st Saturday in April to the 3rd Saturday in May.
Opening and closing dates of hunter access roads on National Forest lands may vary by ranger district. Opening and closing dates are determined by management considerations for the areas accessed by these roads. Contact the local ranger district listed at left for opening and closing dates on specific roads.
Any motor driven vehicle, or trailer, using roads normally open to motor vehicles on Department-owned and National Forest lands shall conform with all state laws for highway travel, including valid inspection and registration. No cross country travel is allowed. All-terrain vehicle (ATV) and off-road vehicle (OHV) travel is permitted only on designated National Forest roads and trails.
Temporary dispersed primitive camping (no water, electric hookups, bathrooms or other facilities) is allowed at many of the Department’s WMAs across the Commonwealth, when occupants are engaged in authorized activities. However, a camping authorization (no cost) is required to camp on WMA’s. The free authorization can be obtained at any license agent or at gooutdoorsva.com. The camping authorization can be found in the list of “Special Licenses”. Primitive camping is allowed for up to 14 consecutive nights and no more than 14 nights in any 28-day period. Camping is prohibited on or within 300 feet of any boat ramp, fishing lake or at other specific sites as posted or marked on WMA maps. All campers are required to store food in such a manner that it is not accessible by wildlife. Detailed camping regulations are found in 4VAC-15-20-155.
Camping on the George Washington/Jefferson National Forests for more than 21 consecutive days without terminating occupancy for a minimum of 10 consecutive days within a 31-day time period is prohibited. For more information, please visit the National Forest website www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj or call the appropriate Ranger District Office.
No trash service is provided. WMA and National Forest users should practice “Pack it In, Pack it out”.
It is unlawful to construct, maintain, or occupy any permanent structure, except by permit, on Department-owned lands and National Forest lands.
It is unlawful to maintain any temporary dwelling on Department-owned land for more than 14 consecutive days. Persons constructing or occupying such structures are responsible for complete removal of temporary structures.
It is unlawful to construct, maintain, or occupy any permanent tree stand on Department-owned lands, National Forest lands, and on Department of Conservation and Recreation-owned or controlled lands. Portable tree stands, which are not permanently affixed, may be used. Use of a full body safety harness while hunting from tree stands is strongly recommended.
Other Public Access
The Public Access Lands for Sportsmen (PALS) program opens private lands for public access. The Department manages access to these properties for hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing. A PALS Permit ($18) is required to access these lands. PALS Permits ($18) are available through DWR license agents, online at the DWR website and through the GoOutdoors mobile app. For more information contact the appropriate regional office or check out our website https://dwr.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/publiclands/#pals Existing properties include:
- Coalfields PALS – 30,000 acres
- James City County PALS – 260 acres
The Department was recently awarded federal grant funding to secure more public access for wildlife related recreation on private lands in the Coalfields region of southwest Virginia over the next few years. The Public Opportunities for Wildlife Related Recreation (POWRR) program will open private lands for the public to enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping, boating and wildlife viewing. The program also provides funding for access infrastructure (parking, gates, signs etc.) and habitat improvements. New properties are being evaluated and enrolled continuously. For more information about opportunities and rules check out our website at https://dwr.virginia.gov/powrr/ or call the Marion Regional Office at 276-783-4860.
The 26 State Forests of Virginia serve as working forests and research and demonstration sites for multiple use management. Environmental protection, water quality, aesthetics, wildlife habitat, forest research and recreation are as important as a sustained timber harvest. The State Forests are administered under a self-supporting budget. Most operating funds are generated through timber sales, but Use Permits for hunting and other activities are important as well.
Hunting is allowed on many of the State Forest properties in Virginia including: Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest, Big Woods State Forest in Sussex County, Browne State Forest in Essex County, Channels State Forest in Washington and Russell Counties, Charlotte State Forest (waterfowl hunting limited to Monday, Wednesday and Saturday), Chilton Woods State Forest in Lancaster County (dogs may not be used to hunt bear or deer), Cumberland State Forest, Devil’s Backbone State Forest in Shenandoah County (archery & black powder only), Dragon Run State Forest in King and Queen County, First Mountain State Forest in Rockingham County (archery & black powder only), Lesesne State Forest in Nelson County (archery & black powder), Moore’s Creek State Forest in Rockbridge County (must be accessed by hiking across George Washington & Jefferson National Forest) and Prince Edward Gallion State Forest. All of the above State Forests will allow Sunday hunting. Hunting is not allowed on 8 State Forests — some with Deed Restrictions such as Niday Place State Forest & Bourassa State Forest, Crawfords State Forest, and others with access limitations for the public such South Quay State Forest, Old Flat State Forest and Hawks State Forest, and some with such high public use that safety is a concern such as Zoar State Forest and Paul State Forest.
Hunting will also be allowed on Matthews State Forest in Grayson County (archery only in designated areas), Chesterfield State Forest in Chesterfield County (archery only for deer, does not including the urban archery season), and Sandy Point State Forest in King William County, however these State Forests will remain closed to Sunday hunting. Conway Robinson State Forest in Prince William County and Whitney State Forest in Fauquier County will remain lottery permit only hunts.
A valid State Forest Use Permit and valid hunting license is required and may be purchased from license agents or online. Hunting is allowed on these properties only in accordance with state hunting regulations. No motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are permitted on gated roads and trails whether the gate is open or closed.
Further information on regulations governing the use of specific State Forest properties for hunting or other recreational activities is available at the Virginia Department of Forestry’s website (https://dof.virginia.gov/education-and-recreation/state-forests/recreation-and-hunting/) or by calling 804-492-4121.
Hunting is prohibited in all National Parks in Virginia including on lands of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Permisson must be obtained to track dogs from Parkway lands for the purpose of retrieving them within Parkway boundaries and to transport game across Parkway lands. For permission, contact (828) 348-3473. Hunters may park their vehicle in a safe location on Parkway lands (e.g., parking areas and pull-outs) and take a direct route to non-Parkway lands open to hunting. Contact (828) 298-2491 (Parkway dispatch) to report any hunting violations. For other current information, view Park-specific websites or contact via Park public information telephone lines. Example: Blue Ridge Parkway www.nps.gov/blri or (828) 348-3400.
Fort A.P. Hill (name change pending), Fort Barfoot (formerly Fort Pickett), Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Langley-Eustis (Fort Eustis only) and Marine Corps Base Quantico provide hunting opportunities. See each installation’s iSportsman website (below) for details on access procedures and rules and regulations for hunting on base.
- Fort A.P. Hill
- Fort Barfoot
- Fort Belvoir
- Joint Base Langley-Eustis
- Marine Corps Base Quantico
Fort A.P. Hill (name change pending), Fort Barfoot (formerly Fort Pickett), and Marine Corps Base Quantico provide hunting dog training opportunities. See each installation’s iSportsman website for details on access procedures and rules and regulations for hunting dog training on base.
Hunting is allowed on the following National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia. For more information:
- Back Bay
- Great Dismal Swamp
- Eastern Shore
- Rappahannock River Valley
- James River
- Plum Tree Island*
- Mason Neck/Occoquan
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
John H. Kerr Reservoir
The John H. Kerr Reservoir is a federally managed multipurpose facility located on the Virginia-North Carolina border. It consists of a 50,000 acre reservoir and 55,000 acres of land surrounding the lake which offers 40,000 acres open to hunting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains 26 wildlife management units located around Kerr Reservoir.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1930 Mays Chapel Road, Boydton, VA 23917
(434) 738-6143 or 434-738-6633 or https://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Locations/District-Lakes-and-Dams/John-H-Kerr/.
John W. Flannagan Reservoir
The John W. Flannagan Reservoir in western Dickenson County provides 6,400 acres of land open to public hunting. The area offers deer, black bear, wild turkey, and small game hunting opportunities.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
2207 Flannagan Dam Rd., Haysi, VA 24256-9739
(276) 835-9544 or
Philpott Lake lies along the border of Henry, Patrick, and Franklin counties and includes a total of approximately 9,500 acres with 2,880 acres of water and approximately 6,500 acres of federally owned land and 240 acres of flowage easement lands on state property. Approximately 4,270 acres of this federal land are designated as wildlife management units, where hunting is permitted. Popular game species include deer, turkey, and bear. Other game includes squirrel, rabbit, fox, beaver, waterfowl, etc.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1058 Philpott Dam Road, Bassett, VA 24082, (276) 629-2703 or www.saw.usace.army.mil/Locations/District-Lakes-and-dams/Philpott or on the Philpott Lake Facebook page.