April 26, 2021

Idaho Takes Aim at Securing the Future of Recreational Shooting

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Senior Coordinator and Internal MARCOMM Liaison


Why it Matters: Shooting sports are one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities nationwide attracting men, women, and kids from diverse interests and backgrounds. Despite being an extremely safe and inclusive activity for all ages, recreational shooting has come under fire from the anti-gun community, attempting to force both public and private shooting ranges out of business via false accusations and litigation. Idaho has taken several proactive steps to secure its recreational shooting access, opportunity, and heritage.

Shooting sports are one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities nationwide attracting men, women, and kids from diverse interests and backgrounds. There are few things more gratifying than seeing a clay pigeon turn into dust on the trap range or getting that perfect grouping at 300 yards. Not only does recreational shooting teach proper gun handling and safety, shooting sports also contribute significantly to wildlife conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding.

Last year, Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 396 (HB 396), titled Shooting Ranges Fund, which expanded recreational shooting opportunities and access for Idaho’s sportsmen and women by increasing the ability of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to develop, operate, and maintain the lands, waters or conservation easements for public shooting ranges and enter into agreements with outside entities in locating new or relocating existing shooting ranges. Continuing Idaho’s pro-recreational shooting legacy, Governor Little signed two bills this session, further protecting and advancing recreational shooting opportunities in the state.

Although firearms shooting ranges have a long tradition of service to a wide array of recreational citizen groups, they are coming under fire as population growth and suburban sprawl expand closer to existing ranges. In recent years, this has resulted in hundreds of lawsuits and complaints filed by newcomers against range owners, as well as the passage of local ordinances aimed at closing ranges. As a proactive move to directly address this issue, Governor Little signed Senate Bill 1055 (SB 1055) into law, providing increased protection for both public and private shooting ranges from encroaching development in the state.

Complimentary to SB 1055, Governor Little also enacted House Bill 286 which directs 65% of fines and forfeitures remitted for violations of fish and game laws to the Public Shooting Range Fund, established last legislative session by HB 396. The Public Shooting Range Fund was created to establish and preserve public shooting ranges for the training and enjoyment of Idaho’s citizens throughout the state, bringing this pro-recreational shooting legacy full circle.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts by Governor Little, the legislature, and sportsmen and women, Idaho is positioning itself as a leader in recreational shooting policy.

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?

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