by Karen Mehall Phillips - Thursday, July 1, 2021
The National Rifle Association has good news for American hunters and shooters this week as it announces the reopening of its Public Range Fund (PRF) for qualifying range projects, effective immediately. The NRA fund, established in 2009 and administered through the NRA Range Services Department, is a grant-matching program designed to encourage city and county governments as well as state and federal agencies to work with the NRA to build and improve public ranges across America.
“Public ranges allow hundreds of thousands of hunters, competitive shooters, and target shooters to work on their marksmanship under safe and responsible conditions,” said Liz Bush, managing director of NRA Community Engagement. “Our grants provide financial stimulus and recreational facilities for entire communities. We are incredibly happy to restart the program and begin making a positive impact once again.”
While NRA PRF funds are frequently tapped for physical improvements, the fund also permits qualifying agencies and local governments to improve community relations and address any range-related environmental issues. With grants awarded on a 50/50 matching basis, 50 percent of project costs is provided by the applicant with the remaining 50 percent provided by the fund. In-kind services, such as labor, materials and equipment, may count toward an applicant’s 50 percent contribution. Projects including Pittman-Robertson Funds cover 90 percent of the applicant’s share with the remaining 10 percent coming from the NRA Public Range Fund.
Dedicated to supporting the millions of hunters and shooters across America, the NRA has awarded more than $2 million through the NRA Public Range Fund since its inception 12 years ago, with more than 90 public ranges benefitting to date. For more information on this NRA program and other grant programs available through the NRA and The NRA Foundation, visit the NRA Range Services website.
For more good news, did you know the NRA Range Services Department maintains a Range Technical Team comprised of a national network of volunteers trained in shooting range development, design and operations? The educational and recreational events that America’s shooting ranges provide go far in supporting the rapidly increasing number of gun owners, hunters and shooters nationwide.
Just how many new gun owners are there, you ask? According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the national trade association for the firearms industry, 8.4 million Americans bought a firearm for the first time in 2020. Forty percent of 2020’s buyers were women and the biggest increase of any demographic category was among African Americans, who bought guns at a rate of 58 percent greater than in 2019.
For another riveting statistic, the NSSF reported that 21 million National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks were conducted in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number topped 2019’s totals of 13.2 million by 60 percent. It also shattered the previous NICS record from 2016 when 15.7 million background checks were conducted for firearms sales. The 21 million background checks in 2020 exceeded the number from 2016 by 5.3 million, or 34 percent.
As we look to the future, we NRA members, gun owners, hunters and shooters are blessed to have an NRA now more than ever. In addition to protecting our Second Amendment freedoms, for 150 years it has been the NRA that has been there for us, often quietly in the background, as America’s firearm safety leader. Only the NRA provides the safety, education and training programs, range services and even options for range grant funding that ensure we have the tools we need to enjoy our uniquely all-American way of life.
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