Why it matters: There are 13.3 million hunters and 32 million target shooters across the country, many of whom rely on public target shooting ranges. Through the excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment, these individuals helped contribute $702 million just last year for state-based conservation and access funding under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Approximately 80% of this funding is generated by recreational target shooters. Given the high popularity of recreational shooting and the importance of this activity for conservation funding, it is critical that there are sufficient places for these individuals to target shoot in a safe manner.
On October 27, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and more than 20 of the nation’s leading sporting-conservation organizations urged the Departments of the Interior (DOI) and Agriculture (USDA) to meet the needs of America’s sportsmen and women by identifying and developing more sites for recreational target shooting opportunities.
CSF highlighted the model that the BLM in Arizona has set to facilitate and manage recreational shooting opportunities and urged that BLM and the USFS adopt this model for other suitable sites. Specifically, the BLM in Arizona is currently working to construct three target ranges while two others are being considered for contracts. Additionally, the BLM is working through the process of developing three sites in New Mexico. CSF and partners urged DOI and USDA to apply the model set forth by BLM in the Southwest to other lands managed by the BLM and USFS.
As the Chair of the Federal Lands Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting Sports Roundtable (Roundtable), CSF is uniquely positioned to oversee the expansion of target shooting ranges on BLM and USFS lands. The purpose of the Roundtable is to facilitate cooperation between federal land management agencies and the NGO community at the national, regional, and local levels for planning and implementing mutually beneficial projects and activities related to hunting, fishing, and target shooting on federal lands. Given these mutually agreed upon goals, CSF will continue to elevate the importance of recreational shooting opportunities to the BLM and USFS.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?