STATEWIDE — U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) welcomed passage of their Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. The legislation 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.”
Opportunities for Americans to safely engage in recreational and competitive shooting have declined on both public and private lands in recent years. In response, this 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.
“We’re 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.”
Tim Brass, State Policy and Field Operations director for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, explained that seasoned shooters and new hunters alike need public places to sight in their hunting rifle and hone their shot gunning skills. “This gives states the flexibility and resources they need to develop and maintain designated shooting areas throughout the country,” he added.