Oh! By "I plan to go shooting in the National Forest just south of Idaho Springs" I thought you meant something reasonably close to the road, but of sufficient distance to meet the requirements. I did a little research, and came up with the following options:
Originally Posted by Keens
Option 1: We young men head West and shoot in the open forest about an hour's drive and another hour and a half hike. I say "young men" as I can't hike that far with my bad ankle.
Option 2: Cherry Creek State Park Family Shooting Center. It's in Aurora, right around the corner from where we're having lunch. General Information: 303/791-1686 Office Line: 303/680-5401. Here's their advertisement:
"Open to the public. Open 10 - 6, 7 days a week – some holidays excluded. Special summer and fall extended hours—please call. Access the range from the east (Lehigh and Parker Rd.) and west (Dayton and Union) entrances to Cherry Creek State Park. Pistol and small bore rifle range, 50 and 100 yard rifle ranges, shotgun--automatic (ATA) and hand (Pedestal) trap; patterning range, hunter sight-in welcome. Limited rifle sight-in services and scope mounting, bore sighting. Classes and private instruction for beginning pistol, rifle and shotgun, firearms safety, and competition. NRA marksmanship programs. ATA registered shoots and informal shotgun leagues. Firearms rentals and instruction for the novice shooter. Ranges are fully supervised with NRA-certified instructors and certified range officers. All firearms must be in gun cases to enter the facility."
Here's their website. Directions.
The price would be $15.50, but I may be able to get the military discount for us all, which would be $13.50. Still kind of high, and it looks like one needs a Cherry Park State Pass, as well. This is starting to sound more "cherry" by the moment.
Option 3 (sort of a takeoff on Option 1): National Forest. Because there are geographic restrictions, if we go this route I'd suggest someone take point and call the Forest Service at Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest at 970-295-6700 to find out where there's a spot we don't have to hike 5 miles from the road. According to the Code of Federal Regulations (title 36), recreational shooting can take place on the National Forests and Grasslands, as long as:
1. You are further than 150 yards from a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area.
2. You are not shooting across or on a National Forest System Road or adjacent body of water.
3. You are not shooting in any manner or place where any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge.
Arapaho Target Shooting Page and Links