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Measure to Aid, Expand Public Shooting Ranges Advances

Measure to Aid, Expand Public Shooting Ranges Advances

Sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Act (HR 3065) was packaged as part of 14 land-use bills in the Conservation and Economic Growth Act (HR 2578). It passed the House on June 18 by a vote of 232-188 with the support of a majority of Republicans and 16 Democrat lawmakers.

Specifically, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Act would amend the Pittman-Robertson Act to allow proceeds of excise tax generated by the sale of firearms, archery equipment and ammunition to fund up to 90 percent of expanding or constructing shooting ranges on both federal and non-federal land.

Current law allows Pittman-Robertson to pay for 75 percent of a shooting range, but all funds allocated to a state must be spent in one fiscal year. HR 3065 would allow funds to accrue for five years, facilitating the development of a substantial pool to fund shooting range expansion and construction.

The measure also encourages federal land management agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain shooting ranges and to encourage their continued use.

Supporters of the measure contend it is badly needed to respond to a significant decline in recent years of opportunities for recreational and competitive shooting on public lands.

"Today, there are less opportunities than ever before for Americans to participate in recreational shooting activities," Rep. Shuler said in a press release issued June 20. "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."

Another important provision deserving mention passed as part of the 14-bill package this week was HR 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. Introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill gives the U.S. Border Patrol expanded and more free-ranging access to lands managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and other federal lands that lie within 100 miles of international borders.

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