Today, Mark Udall announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to help states construct and maintain safe public shooting ranges. The bill, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, would help ensure that there are enough accessible ranges where hunters and marksmen can safely practice recreational shooting. The House bill, led by Representatives Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA), is a companion to bipartisan legislation Udall introduced in the Senate earlier this year.
Under current law--the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act--an excise tax is collected on sporting equipment and ammunition, which states can use for activities such as wildlife restoration and hunter education programs. However, it has limited effectiveness in establishing and maintaining shooting ranges, which are declining in number. The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act would amend the law to give states greater flexibility to use existing funds to create and maintain shooting ranges.
Udall's bill is co-sponsored by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kay Hagan (D-NC). The Shuler-Hunter bill has 41 additional co-sponsors.
"I want to thank vice chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Heath Shuler and Representative Duncan Hunter for introducing this legislation in the House," Udall said. "They both have a deep understanding of the important role our sportsmen communities play in our economy and in conservation and use of our natural resources. This legislation will be a tremendous win for sportsmen, as it will lead to more and better places to safely engage in their sport. I look forward to working with Representatives Shuler and Hunter--and sportsmen and sportswomen across the country--to get it signed into law."
The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act would:
* Increase the amount of money states can contribute from their allotted Pittman-Robertson funds to 90 percent of the cost to improve or construct a public target range from the current limit of 75 percent. This would reduce local and state matching requirements from 25 percent to 10 percent.
* Allow the Pittman-Robertson funds allotted to a state to remain available and accrue for five fiscal years for use in acquiring land for, expanding, or constructing a public target range on federal or non-federal land. Under current law, states must use these funds within one year.
* Limit the legal liability exposure to the federal land management agencies regarding the management and use of federal land for target practice or marksmanship training.
* Encourage the federal land management agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain target ranges on federal land so as to encourage their continued use.