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. These two activities combined have an immense economic impact. Collectively, they generate $149 billion in economic output and support over 970,000 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 wildlife 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 281,200 jobs throughout the country.
- In 2016, recreational shooting provided over $2.247 billion in state and local taxes and $3.158 billion in federal taxes, totaling approximately $5.405 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.
- Holding a tax-free holiday for firearm and ammunition purchases has proven successful in increasing opportunities for recreational shooters.
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.