Washington, DC --- Legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Heath Shuler (D-NC) to expand access to recreational shooting ranges passed the House yesterday as part of a larger lands package with bipartisan support by a margin of 232 to 188.
H.R. 3065, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, was included as Title XII of H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act. Rep. Shuler’s bill would give states greater flexibility in their use of already-allocated Pittman Robertson federal wildlife funds for the purpose of developing public shooting ranges. This measure is backed by bipartisan co-sponsors in both the House and Senate and has broad support in the sportsmen’s community throughout North Carolina. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
“I am very pleased to see my colleagues on both sides of the aisle come together to pass this common-sense bill,” said Rep. Shuler. “Today, there are less opportunities than ever before for Americans to participate in recreational shooting activities. H.R. 3065 helps reverse this trend by giving states greater flexibility to use money they already have to better maintain and build public ranges. In turn, the bill will help combat the loss of access and opportunity while helping those paying into the system---sportsmen and outdoorsmen--- get a better return on their investment.”
On May 17th, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs in strong support of H.R. 3065, stating: “In North Carolina, one of the principle impediments to shooting range development is the initial capital cost attributed to land acquisition, facility design and construction. H.R. 3065 includes a combination of key incentives that significantly reduce these barriers.”
States are allocated funding for wildlife purposes under the 1937 Wildlife Restoration Act. The 10% excise tax on guns and ammunition created by the Act is distributed to states for a variety of activities, including managing game populations, restoring habitat, and educating hunters. Currently, however, the Act contains restrictions which limit states’ ability to use Pittman-Robertson funds to develop and expand shooting ranges. H.R.3065 addresses these issues by:
- Increasing the amount of money states can contribute from their allotted Pittman-Robertson funds from 75 to 90 percent of the cost to improve or construct a public target range. This would reduce local and state matching requirements from 25 percent to 10 percent;
- Allowing the Pittman-Robertson funds allotted to a state to remain available and accrue for five fiscal years for use in acquiring land for, expanding or constructing a public target range. Under current law, states must use these funds within one year;
- Encouraging federal land management agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain target ranges on federal land so as to encourage their continued use.