Recreational Shooting


Shooting ranges have a long tradition of service to a wide variety of citizen groups. However, without adequate range protection laws, safe shooting ranges – which offer valuable public services and recreational opportunities in addition to supporting the American System of Conservation Funding – will be vulnerable to arbitrary sanctions and creative lawsuits. 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.


Recreational shooting in the United States is a longstanding and time-honored tradition. Whether it’s practicing at a range each week or participating in an occasional weekend activity with friends, millions of Americans shoot recreationally each year. Research shows that nearly half of all active target shooters introduce a newcomer to the range or field each year. Additionally, another recent study shows that when surveyed, 45% of respondents said an “invitation from friend or family” would most motivate them to participate in reactional shooting. This increased participation results in a higher population of regular recreational shooters, which in turn leads to greater amounts of excise taxes from shooting-related expenditures like firearms and ammunition. This increased excise tax revenue leads to greater funding for state fish and wildlife conservation efforts through the Pittman-Robertson Act, a critically important component of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs and the American System of Conservation Funding.

Recreational shooting and hunting are both multi-billion-dollar industries. When these two are combined, the economic impact they have on the economy cannot be ignored. Collectively, they generate $138 billion in economic output and support over 1,656,000 jobs annually. Any shock to the recreational shooting industry poses a significant threat to the nation’s economy as well as its ability to provide consistent sources of revenue for conservation. 

Points of Interest

  • In the United States, there are over 52 million people who spend nearly $17 billion annually on recreational shooting.
  • Recreational shooting supports more than 329,000 jobs throughout the country.
  • In 2016, recreational shooting provided over $2.26 billion in state and local taxes and $2.8 billion in federal taxes, totaling approximately $5.1 billion in taxes generated nationally.
  • Recreational shooting can include using firearms (handguns, muzzleloaders, rifles, and shotguns) for such purposes as sighting-in, competition shooting, sporting clays, and practical training, among other activities.
  • One particularly successful policy that has been shown to increase opportunities for recreational shooters is holding tax-free holidays for firearm and ammunition purchases.

Moving Forward

Recreational shooting has a major impact on the nation’s economy and affects millions of people throughout the United States. A significant percentage of the billions of dollars Americans spend on recreational shooting activities each year supports state wildlife agencies and their mission of public trust resource management. Legislators should keep these considerations in mind when making decisions that may impact recreational shooting opportunities.


For more information regarding this issue, please contact: Keely Hopkins, (916) 633-3664;

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