NSSF: Bipartisan Introduction of Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 in the Senate

By Dave Dolbee published on in General, News

Few people have a safe area to shoot on their own properties, so public ranges are not only important to shooters, they are critical to the future of the shooting sports by providing neophytes a place to get started. The Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 is a new step to allow taxes already collected from the sale of certain gear to be directed to supporting public ranges and building new ones. Here is the full release from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF):

National Shooting Sports Foundation Logo

NEWTOWN, Conn. – The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, praised the bipartisan introduction of S. 593, the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 in the U.S. Senate, sponsored by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Boozman (R-LA), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).

“This legislation would provide state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman-Robertson excise taxes dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight in rifles and shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses and, for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport.”

The senators cited the economic benefits of sustaining the shooting sports, as well as continued access to public range facilities for citizens to practice marksmanship skills. Money paid in excise taxes is what sustains construction and maintenance of public ranges. Increased access and improved quality ranges make it easier for marksmen to participate in the sport. This legislation mirrors what was introduced in previous Congressional sessions, but was never put forward for presidential approval.

“As a West Virginian, I know how important shooting sports are to our economy, and to our proud hunting heritage,” said Senator Capito. “I am glad to join with my colleagues to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation that responsibly encourages improved federal, state, and local cooperation to create and maintain shooting ranges, and encourage their continued use.”

“Hunting and target shooting are an important part of Colorado’s Western heritage and outdoor economy,” Senator Bennet said. “This bill will provide states greater flexibility to develop shooting ranges, and provide sportsmen with more opportunities for target practice and marksmanship training.”

“Shooting sports are a huge economic driver in Arkansas, and I am pleased to support a common-sense solution that makes it easier for states to encourage these traditions. Our bill will improve access to ranges for the thousands of Arkansans who enjoy this type of recreation without increasing federal spending,” Senator Boozman said.

“There are countless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in North Dakota, but a growing population has put extra pressure on our public shooting ranges. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to expand outdoor recreation for our sportsmen and women,” said Senator Heitkamp. “Working together at the federal, state, and local levels, we can guarantee that facilities where folks enjoy marksmanship and target practice thrive for generations to come—and this bill would help accomplish that goal.”

Since 1937 almost $11 billion has been raised for wildlife conservation through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition. States are permitted to use some of those funds for hunter education course and for public shooting ranges under a restrictive formula that has largely discouraged state agencies from building and enhancing public shooting ranges. The legislation would provide states greater flexibility on their ability to use Pittman-Robertson excise tax funds by increasing the cap of federal funds accrued for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges from 75 to 90 percent. This means states could begin work on range facilities with 10 percent matching funds, instead of the current 25 percent. It would also excise funds to be made available and accrue for five years for land acquisition or range construction. The legislation would also limit frivolous lawsuits that might result from the use of federal land for target practice and encourage federal agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities for maintenance of ranges on federal lands.

Target shooters are largely responsible for the funds derived through excise taxes from the sale of firearms and ammunition products. That money is directly responsible for habitat conservation, recreational shooting, and wildlife management, making gun owners, hunters, and manufacturers the largest financial supporters of wildlife conservation throughout the United States.

Passage of S. 593, the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017, would ensure the Pittman-Robertson Act continues to maximize wildlife conservation.
The Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 was introduced in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support as H.R. 788 by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) with 23 co-sponsors.

No one likes paying taxes, but how do you feel about the Pittman-Robertson Act? Do you know where the tax dollars collected are currently being spent? Where do you think they should be spent? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (8)

  • Joe

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    I agree there should be some oversight of the states to ensure the money is spent appropriately. This oversight should be at the federal level for obvious reasons.

    No need to create a whole separate agency, just assign it to a agency/committee that comes the closest to this new mission.

    Hell, I could probably do it myself in my home office part time !!!! :-)

    JoeM

    Reply

  • DaveW

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    Dead on. However, I would be willing to drive to southern Oregon or Nevada and spend the weekend using such a range.

    Also, while the state may not, perhaps there is a way for individual counties to use the funds, especially if they saw a way to make money off the deal.

    Reply

  • Edward Allen

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    Who here believes that California will actually use any of these funds to help with either the creation or maintenance of ranges? I sure won’t hold my breath.

    Reply

  • jim

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    Sounds great, but I think that the law needs to put up some stipulations before the money is given. I live in mid-south Alabama and there are two ranges available to me One is in the WMA of a National Forest wherein the WMA is state run…no problems there, but the other is a privately owned public range where one may use the range on a one time deal. If one wishes to return, then he/she is forced to join the NRA to use the range because their insurance is issued by the NRA. No federal monies should be given to such a range as long as it has these restrictions.

    Reply

  • Doug

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    With so many guns being purchased these days, this Bill 593 makes sense. Almost too much sense for it being initiated by the government, go figure. I hope the NRA, GOA and NAGR get behind this and rally the support of millions to see this thru. However, there should be an oversight apparatus to insure the funds are truly spent for this purpose. As we all know, when politicians see $$ all they can think of is their re-election campaigns!

    Reply

  • DavidW

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    Anyone who can physically and emotionally handle a firearm should begin receiving training at the earliest age possible. Such was the view of the Founders when the 2nd Amendment was written and ratified along with the rest of the Constitution.

    We should also be teaching patriotism, US History, US Government, and other subjects which pull the populace together rather than drive them apart.

    Reply

  • Dennis

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    I think this is a good bill and should be passed right away. There really aren’t enough ranges to support the number of people interested in target shooting and especially the times hunters get ready for hunting season and sighting in their guns. It is also not a hindrance to draining taxes away from other projects that also need tax dollars if the taxes on firearms and accessories is used then it will be no burden to other needs and also contributes to wildlife management. Thank you for this bill that previous administrations did nothing for.

    Reply

  • BK

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    I hope there are provisions to ensure the funds are only used for the purposes intended as there is a tendency to view these funds as a pay raise for the upper management and land purchases for the purpose of state officials and their associates to hold controlled hunts.

    Reply

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