In the State of Ohio, statutory townships—like Dover Township—use the laws provided by the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) for regulation, zoning, and enforcement purposes on private property. Per ORC, it is legal to discharge firearms on private property in Ohio’s Townships if discharging the firearm(s) is done in a safe and legal manner and that the person(s) discharging the firearm is the landowner or someone to whom the landowner has given permission.

What is a ‘Safe and Legal Manner?’ You are responsible for every bullet that leaves the barrel of your firearm. You still own that bullet and will be held legally responsible for any injuries, fatalities or damages it causes. In order to be safe while discharging firearms, a shooter needs to be able to see the intended target, the backstop and beyond. For this reason, shooting activities are restricted to daylight hours.

Those convicted of violent felonies or domestic violence and persons who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are prohibited from possessing or discharging a firearm. The Ohio Revised Code contains specific laws allowing for the arrest of such violators. Ohio Revised Code 2923.162 prohibits persons from discharging firearms upon, over or within 100 yards of a cemetery; a public roadway; and also on the ground belonging to a school, church, or inhabited dwelling or property of another. It is also illegal to discharge a firearm from a vehicle. Persons found guilty of violating this code will face penalization ranging in severity from a fourth degree misdemeanor to a first degree felony.

Target Practice A private property owner, prior to allowing the discharging of a firearm on his/her property, needs to have a proper backstop made of soil or some other soft porous material and free of rocks or hard material that may increase the chances of a ricochet bullet. The backstop must also be of sufficient height and width to guarantee the capture of all bullets fired at targets. A wooded area is generally not considered a proper backstop as the shape of trees increases the chance of a bullet glancing off in an unsafe direction.

A range should be located so that nobody is shooting toward a house, vehicle, roadway, or any other structure. Not all private properties are suitable for shooting activities. Properties located in housing developments are typically not suitable for shooting ranges due to smaller lot sizes and their close proximity to neighboring houses. Please review the National Rifle Association’s NRA Range Source Book for more information on shooting ranges.

Hunting It is legal to hunt on private property in the township. Hunters are bound by the rules and regulations set by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the ORC. There are many hunting laws and restrictions, and I recommend hunter safety courses for all those unfamiliar with safe and legal hunting practices.

How We Handle Firearms Complaints When the Sheriff’s Office receives a firearms complaint, the Deputy will first survey the location to ensure a proper backstop is in place, that persons are shooting in a safe direction, and that the shooting activity has been conducted in a safe manner. If the Deputy deems the location of the shooting activity unsafe, a cease-fire may be ordered until the location, backstop and activity are safe.

To minimize neighbors calling in shooting complaints, be cordial and respectful, exercise common sense and good discretion, and make sure that you address all of the aforementioned safety concerns. Building rapport and good relationships with your neighbors and inviting them to target practice with you may be helpful in demonstrating to them that you are safe and responsible.

For additional information or with questions about operating firearms or firearm businesses, please contact Zoning Inspector Dave Weber at the office 330.343.6413 or on his cell phone 330.440.1944.