The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, praised the bipartisan introduction of S. 593, the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 in the U.S. Senate, sponsored by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Boozman (R-La.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
“This legislation would provide state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman-Robertson excise taxes dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight in rifles and shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses and, for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport.”
The senators cited the economic benefits of sustaining the shooting sports, as well as continued access to public range facilities for citizens to practice marksmanship skills. Money paid in excise taxes is what sustains construction and maintenance of public ranges. Increased access and improved quality ranges make it easier for marksmen to participate in the sport. This legislation mirrors what was introduced in previous Congressional sessions, but was never put forward for presidential approval.
“As a West Virginian, I know how important shooting sports are to our economy, and to our proud hunting heritage,” said Senator Capito. “I am glad to join with my colleagues to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation that responsibly encourages improved federal, state and local cooperation to create and maintain shooting ranges, and encourage their continued use.”
“Hunting and target shooting are an important part of Colorado’s Western heritage and outdoor economy,” Senator Bennet said. “This bill will provide states greater flexibility to develop shooting ranges, and provide sportsmen with more opportunities for target practice and marksmanship training.”
“Shooting sports are a huge economic driver in Arkansas and I am pleased to support a common-sense solution that makes it easier for states to encourage these traditions. Our bill will improve access to ranges for the thousands of Arkansans who enjoy this type of recreation without increasing federal spending,” Senator Boozman said.
“There are countless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in North Dakota, but a growing population has put extra pressure on our public shooting ranges. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to expand outdoor recreation for our sportsmen and women,” said Senator Heitkamp. “Working together at the federal, state, and local levels, we can guarantee that facilities where folks enjoy marksmanship and target practice thrive for generations to come – and this bill would help accomplish that goal.”
Since 1937 almost $11 billion has been raised for wildlife conservation through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition. States are permitted to use some of those funds for hunter education course and for public shooting ranges under a restrictive formula that has largely discouraged state agencies from building and enhancing public shooting ranges. The legislation would provide states greater flexibility on their ability to use Pittman-Robertson excise tax funds by increasing the cap of federal funds accrued for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges from 75 to 90 percent. This means states could begin work on range facilities with 10 percent matching funds, instead of the current 25 percent. It would also excise funds to be made available and accrue for five years for land acquisition or range construction. The legislation would also limit frivolous lawsuits that might result from the use of federal land for target practice and encourage federal agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities for maintenance of ranges on federal lands.
Target shooters are largely responsible for the funds derived through excise taxes from the sale of firearms and ammunition products. That money is directly responsible for habitat conservation, recreational shooting and wildlife management, making gun owners, hunters and manufacturers largest financial supporters of wildlife conservation throughout the United States.
Passage of S. 593, the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017, would ensure that the Pittman-Robertson Act continues to maximize wildlife conservation.
The Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 was introduced in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support as H.R. 788 by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) with 23 co-sponsors.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.