Pittman-Robertson funds, which come from excise taxes paid by hunters and recreational shooters, have not always been administered for the creation of recreational shooting opportunities. As a result, opportunities for both recreational and competitive shooting have declined significantly in recent years. The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act addresses these declines by providing states with more flexibility in their use of Pittman-Robertson funds to develop and improve public shooting ranges.
Since the passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937, hunters and recreational shooters have generated the majority of funding for wildlife conservation through the purchase of firearms and ammunition. Under the formula that dictates how these revenues are distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies, states are also permitted to use some of these funds for hunter education as well as the construction and enhancement of public shooting ranges. This program requires states to provide 25% of the funds needed to undertake a shooting range project with revenue generated from other sources. Unfortunately, many states have had found it difficult to produce these matching funds, in some cases, rendering federal funds unused.
The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act addresses this issue by allowing states to generate matching funds over the course of five years – current law dictates that funds cannot be carried over for more than two years – and reduces the matching requirement from 25%to 10% . These changes would provide state fish and wildlife agencies with added flexibility to generate funds for range construction or improvement over time with the goal of giving them the resources needed to provide the public with more opportunities to embrace hunting and shooting sports and support the “user pays, public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding. In addition, the legislation facilitates increased cooperation between state and federal agencies for the maintenance of shooting ranges on federal lands and also limits frivolous lawsuits that could erode the ability to use federal lands for target practice in areas where existing regulations allow the activity to take place.
The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 1222/S.94) was introduced in the House by CSC Members Representatives Ron Kind (WI) and Rob Bishop (UT) and in the Senate by CSC Member Senator Capito (WV). On May 10, 2020, the President signed the H.R. 1222 into law, a sign of the clear commitment to America’s recreational target shooters. This law will generate additional revenue for conservation by providing additional venues for marksmanship training in a controlled, safe environment.