Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today welcomed passage of the U.S. House of Representatives companion bill to their Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. The legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate by voice vote earlier this month, will provide a responsible incentive for creating and maintaining public shooting ranges. The bill will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“Sportsmen are a key component of our outdoor economy,” said Bennet. “Once signed into law, this bipartisan bill will expand opportunities for target shooting and marksmanship training, an important part of Colorado’s heritage.”
“Hunting and shooting sports are important to many West Virginians as sources of recreation and economic growth,” said Capito. “By improving coordination at the federal, state, and local levels, our bipartisan legislation will help create and maintain shooting ranges so that even more people in our state and across the country can responsibly take part in these activities. I’m glad to see the House pass this bill and look forward to President Trump signing it into law soon.”
Opportunities for Americans to safely engage in recreational and competitive shooting have declined on both public and private lands in recent years. In response, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act will encourage states to develop additional shooting ranges by providing more flexibility to state fish and wildlife agencies regarding the use of funding made available through the Pittman-Robertson Act, a federal aid program financed by excise taxes on firearms.
Currently, under the Pittman-Robertson Act, funds can only be used to pay 75 percent of the cost of building or operating a public target range, and states only have two years to access allotted funds. The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act will allow those funds to cover up to 90 percent of the cost of public target ranges, and states would be able to retain funding for five years, instead of two. States also have the option to use the funds to pay to acquire land, expand existing facilities, and construct new public facilities. Bennet first introduced the legislation in 2015.
“We are committed to providing shooters and sportsmen and women with safe places to sight in, practice and compete in the shooting sports,” said Jeff Ver Steeg, Acting Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Colorado offers convenient and diverse public shooting ranges that are open all year round. This legislation would provide more flexibility for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to invest in ranges which are an important part of the infrastructure in many communities across Colorado.”
“Seasoned shooters and new hunters alike need public places to sight in their hunting rifle and hone their shotgunning skills. This bipartisan solution gives states the flexibility and resources they need to develop and maintain designated shooting areas throughout the country,” said Tim Brass, State Policy & Field Operations Director for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “We applaud Senator Bennet for his ongoing leadership on this legislation and for his work to sustain our sporting heritage.”
A summary of the legislation is available HERE.