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October 18, 2022

NSSF Breakthrough ‘Range Bill’ Paying Big Dividends

By Larry Keane

Hunters and recreational target shooters are continuing to see big benefits from the work NSSF invested in getting the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act signed into law three years ago. The groundbreaking legislation resulted in $91 million in new grants awarded for the construction or improvement of 168 firearm ranges, 32 archery ranges and 33 combined ranges. That’s a total of 233 new or improved ranges. There are 856 total public ranges available for recreational target shooters for firearms and archery across the United States.

Those hundreds of new and improved ranges have come about just in the three years since the law was signed. There’s more to come as state wildlife agencies learn how their states can apply and access funds generated from Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers.

The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, or “Range Bill,” was signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2019. It was the culmination of years of work by NSSF with Congress to get the bipartisan-supported legislation enacted.

Groundbreaking ‘Range Bill’

The Range Bill was a sustained-effort priority for NSSF and a crucial step forward in promoting, protecting and preserving hunting and the shooting sports. In the course of a decade, versions of the bipartisan legislation were introduced as 29 different numbered bills and 15 separate legislative packages, starting with the 110th Congress. While it had broad support from both Republicans and Democrats in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, previous attempts to pass the legislation were derailed for reasons unrelated to the actual legislation.

The Range Bill allows states to use their Pittman-Robertson Fund allocations to begin construction of new ranges or improve existing state-run public recreational shooting ranges. Pittman-Robertson funds are derived from the 10 and 11 percent excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers on their products. Those funds are marked specifically for conservation, hunter education and range development programs through the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program.

Prior to this law’s enactment, states were required to put up 25 percent of the cost of range construction projects to access the matching 75 percent of Pittman-Robertson funds. Now, states can access those funds with a 10 percent match and will have five fiscal years to acquire land for range construction or expansion projects, compared to three years prior to the Range Bill.

Industry-Supported, Industry-Invested

Since 1937, firearm and ammunition manufacturers paid more than $15.3 billion in funding for wildlife conservation and safety education programs in all 50 states. Adjusted for inflation, that tops $23 billion in today’s dollars. NSSF estimates more than 80 percent of Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions are generated by sales attributed to recreational shooting. This means today’s recreational target shooter is an overwhelming contributor to conservation through excise tax support.

A recurring concern of recreational shooters, and those considering entering the sport, is proximity and access to a safe range. This law – and the grants generated from it – make it easier for states to enable recreational target shooters to enter the sport, which in turn would generate continued contributions to Pittman-Robertson funds and the conservation programs which it supports.

Range development projects can be found from Alaska to Hawaii, Maine to Florida. New projects to benefit public access to safe and modern marksmanship ranges can be found in 32 states and public ranges supported by Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers are in nearly every state across the country.

More to Come

That’s just the start. NSSF proudly supports the “Range Access Act,” introduced by U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah). That legislation would require a public shooting range on every National Forest and every district managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the United States. The bill aims to create more ranges to practice shooting and sight-in guns prior to hunting seasons. Congressman Moore’s bill also benefits conservation by reducing pollution at non-dedicated ranges on federal public lands while also generating additional Pittman-Robertson revenue.

NSSF, along with member companies including firearm and ammunition manufacturers, are invested in creating more public access recreational shooting ranges. These new ranges benefit safe and responsible firearm ownership, conservation and growing the next generation of recreational shooters and hunters.

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NSSF Praises U.S. House Range Access Act Introduction

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