by Chris Chaffin - Friday, May 24, 2019
On May 10, President Donald J. Trump Signed H.R. 1222, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (TPMTS) into law. The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) was part of the drafting committee when the original bill was introduced years ago because building shooting ranges and enhancing opportunities for shooting practice and training are integral to fostering participation in hunting and shooting sports. The bill amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (P-R) “to facilitate the establishment of additional or expanded public target ranges in certain states.”
Specifically, the changes to P-R provide financial incentives to state wildlife management agencies to build or expand shooting ranges by lowering the required “matching share” from 25 to 10 percent. Also, the time period in which the grants (funds) remain available to the agency for developing or expanding shooting ranges has increased to five years in recognition of the time involved in acquiring land, and in the planning and development of a shooting range. Both measures provide significant stimulus for new and improved shooting ranges.
As shooting is widely held to be a prominent factor in developing hunters, and the taxes generated from sales of hunting and shooting equipment and supplies directly benefit wildlife conservation via the P-R program, TPMTS is reason for a double celebration for America’s sportsmen and women.
The NRA Managing Director of Recreational Programs and Ranges Liz Bush said, “This newly signed bill will help further NRA’s cooperative efforts with state fish and wildlife agencies in our shared mission of providing more opportunities for the American public to have a place to shoot."
Representing all the state wildlife management agencies through the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), Ed Carter, president of AFWA and executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said, “AFWA is pleased to see the passage of the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (HR 1222). This bipartisan bill allows more flexibility for state fish and wildlife agencies to use their monies for the recruitment of sportsmen and women, and hopefully attract more Americans to the outdoors in the process.”
NRA’s Public Range Fund Going Strong
Since its inception in 1871, the NRA has recognized the need for firearms training and, since 2009, the organization has provided its own stimulus for more shooting ranges through its Public Range Fund (PRF).
PRF is a “…matching grant program [that] encourages city and county governments, and state or federal agencies, to work with NRA on efforts to build and improve public ranges across the United States. At the NRA's sole discretion, grants are awarded to assist with the acquisition, development and improvement of public shooting facilities. Grants can also be awarded to assist qualifying agencies or local governments with projects designed to improve community relations and to address environmental issues related to range operations.”
Since its inception a short 10 years ago, 88 public ranges have been funded nationwide by NRA’s PRF grants, totaling a significant investment of $1.9 million dollars. In 2018 alone, nine new projects were funded, with a total of $143, 975 given to build and improve new public shooting facilities.
Bush reported that the PRF program doesn’t track the exact number of shooters who have benefitted from PRF grants, as the final reports are typically provided at the conclusion of construction at the grand opening of each project. But, she said, “It is safe to say hundreds of thousands of shooters have access to the 88 public ranges built with financial assistance from the NRA Public Range Fund.”
Bush also indicated that the passage of H.R. 1222 will enable the NRA to re-examine PRF and “…make adjustments to our Public Range Fund application and requirements to reflect the new 10-percent match for state agencies working with Pittman-Robertson funds for the purposes of building and improving public shooting ranges.”
Range development, training and shooting opportunities got a nice boost this month. Sportsmen should actively look for opportunities to promote new range construction and utilize both the NRA’s PRF and state wildlife agencies’ programs to help recruit, reactivate and keep current shooters and hunters active.
About the author: Chris Chaffin has been an outdoor communicator, educator and partnership manager for more than 40 years. On the national scene, he has represented several prominent companies in the outdoor community and served two terms as treasurer of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), eventually taking on the roles of vice-president, president and chairman of the board. In 2007, he launched Chaffin Communications, Inc., a communications consulting company focusing on the outdoors. In 2012, with support from the Outdoor Adventure Dream Giveaway, Chaffin founded and currently manages the Outdoor Adventure Conservation Fund, a Florida non-profit established to encourage and facilitate more people participating in traditional outdoor activities.
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