The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 3065), making it easier for states to use their federal Pittman-Robertson (P-R) apportionments to build or improve public shooting ranges used by hunters and recreational shooters.
H.R. 3065 was included as Title XII of H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act. NRA strongly supported the language in the bill relating to marksmanship training but took no position on the overall bill (H.R. 2578).
Sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act increases the amount of money states can contribute from their allotted P-R funds from 75 to 90 percent of the cost to build or improve a public shooting range. The bill also allows a state’s allotted P-R funds to remain available and accrue for five years for range projects. Under current law, states must use these funds within one year.
“We expect that the changes to the Pittman-Robertson Act will prompt state fish and wildlife agencies to build ranges to accommodate the growing numbers of people who are participating in the shooting sports, whether it be competitive shooting, recreational shooting or hunting,” said Susan Recce, NRA Director of Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources. “In Western states especially, population expansion to the borders of once remote federal public lands has resulted in closures of open space for people to target shoot.”
Due to the fact that the changes do not involve new funds and simply give states greater flexibility and discretion to use money that’s already been allocated, the Congressional Budget Office says H.R. 3065 will have no effect on the overall federal budget.
P-R money is derived from excise taxes paid by sportsmen on purchases of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. That tax revenue is then allocated annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to all 50 states and U.S. territories and can be used for a wide range of qualifying projects, including the reintroduction of declining species, wildlife population surveys, species research, hunter education, acquisition of wildlife habitat, and the development of shooting ranges, among others.
“Today, there are less opportunities than ever before for Americans to participate in recreational shooting activities,” said Shuler. “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.”
A Senate version of the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, S. 1249, was introduced by Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) last September.
S. 1249 had been up for consideration this week as one of the provisions in a package of bills known as the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, which had been attached as an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill. Lawmakers, however, removed the Sportsmen’s Act from the Farm Bill on Tuesday.