On Monday, U.S. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works urging that a hearing be held on the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S.1249), a bill they introduced to make it easier for states to build public shooting ranges.
This legislation, which has strong support from hunting and conservation organizations, including NRA, would give states greater flexibility to spend their already-allotted Pittman-Robertson funds on the creation or improvement of public shooting ranges. Holding a hearing on the bill is a step toward having it pass committee and be taken up by the full Senate for a vote.
“For a variety of reasons, the number of places where Americans can safely engage in recreational shooting and target practice has steadily dwindled,” Udall and Risch wrote in the letter. “In an effort to promote safe and established areas for such activities, we have introduced the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. This legislation would allow states the flexibility to spend their already allotted Pittman-Robertson funds on the creation or improvement of public shooting ranges, giving Americans more opportunities to shoot safely and responsibly.”
Udall has previously said about the bill: “It would be a triple win for sporting and conservation communities: states can create higher quality and safer shooting ranges, more Coloradans can take up the sport, and it would generate more money for future conservation and hunter education efforts.”
A companion bill (H.R. 3065) has also been introduced by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) in the House of Representatives and has 57 co-sponsors. Both bills are supported by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, a coalition of more than 45 of the nation’s premier conservation and sportsmen’s organizations, including the National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.
S. 1249/H.R. 3065 would amend the Pittman-Robertson Act, a 75-year-old federal law that uses federal excise taxes from the sale of firearms and ammunition to fund wildlife conservation programs and the construction of shooting ranges. The bill’s improvements to the Pittman-Robertson Act would allow the states far greater ability to purchase land, build new target ranges, and improve the ranges that currently exist.
Currently, Pittman-Robertson funds can only be used to pay 75 percent of the cost of building or maintaining a range. S. 1249/H.R. 3065 would change the funding requirements to allow up to 90 percent of target range construction and maintenance to be paid for with Pittman Robertson funds. This change would allow states greater latitude in the allocation of Pittman-Robertson funds and provide an incentive for the use of these funds for the construction of target ranges.
The bill would also give states up to five years to use Pittman-Robertson funds for range projects and land acquisition. This would allow the states to accumulate funds during a five-year period, thus providing the time and finances needed to acquire land and plan and build a range. Presently, states have only two years to “use or lose” the funds apportioned to them.
Sen. Udall is also circulating a petition to gain public support for a hearing on S. 1249, which can be viewed here.
For more information about the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act from NRA-ILA, please visit www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=256&issue=021.