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April 3, 2019

Mississippi’s Newest Public Range Shows Industry, Corporate Partnerships

By Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President

Recreational shooters in Mississippi are the beneficiaries of the newest public-private partnership that’s opening up more public shooting ranges. The McIvor Shooting Facility opens April 6 in Sardis, Miss., adjacent to the Charles Ray Nix Wildlife Management Area. It offers wingshooters, as well as rifle and pistol marksmen, a chance to shoot at a state-of-the-art public range that’s safe and accessible. It’s also a model of how private companies, state and federal agencies and the firearms industry can team together to increase access to public recreational shooting ranges and benefit conservation at the same time.

The McIvor Shooting Facility is a unique model. Winchester Ammunition, based in nearby Oxford, Miss., where they make centerfire and rimfire ammunition, partnered with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Foundation of the Mississippi, Fisheries and Parks to build the 300-acre facility. The $2.8 million investment boasts a 15-station sporting clays range, two skeet and trap courses, a 5-stand range, pistol range, 100-yard and 300-yard rifle ranges along with a 3-D archery range. It’s a recreational shooter’s one-stop shop for sighting-in, brushing-up, or competing at the next level of shooting sports.

McIvor Range Winchester
Several key figures from the shooting sports were on hand for the McIvor Shooting Facility Ribbon cutting. From left to right, Tom Wondrash, Scholastic Clay Target Program National Executive Director, Kim Rhode, six-time Olympic medalist, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Winchester President Brett Flaugher, and NSSF President Joe Bartozzi.

Firearms Industry Fuels Funds

This awesome facility is made possible because of the entire firearms and ammunition industry. Each time a person purchases a firearm or ammunition, they support the manufacturers who have already paid an excise tax on those products. That tax revenue goes toward conservation programs, including building ranges like this one in Mississippi. It’s called the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Fund. Firearms and ammunition makers pay a tax on every rifle, shotgun, handgun, bullet and shotshell they make. The U.S. Treasury collects this money for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which holds that in the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. Firearms and ammunition manufacturers have been doing this since 1937 and collected more than $12 billion.

That’s a significant amount of money. Just this week, USFWS announced $1 billion was disbursed to the states to put toward wildlife restoration, conservation and education programs. More than $21 billion has been administered by the states over the years for conservation and recreation projects, to which state wildlife agencies matched another $7.3 billion.

It Can Be Better

But what if we made it easier for states to use this money to build more recreational shooting ranges just like this one in Mississippi? That could mean more people could have more access to shooting ranges for safe marksmanship practice. That means more guns swinging after clay pigeons and more ammunition punching paper. That also means more money going into the Pittman-Robertson Fund to fund more wildlife conservation and recreation projects for everyone.

That’s why the National Shooting Sports Foundation® is supporting Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. It’s a bill in the U.S. Senate, S. 94, and the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1222, that would give states more flexibility in using those funds to take on more projects like the McIvor Shooting Facility. It also does it without raising taxes on anyone. It just allows states a better way to apply the money that’s already there.

We’re working with Congress to make this a reality. All recreational shooters need a safe and accessible place to practice. This is an example of how the firearms industry, corporate partnerships and federal and state agencies can make recreational shooting a winning strategy for everyone.

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Tags: Mississippi Pittman-Robertson recreational shooting Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act Winchester Ammunition

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