Lawmaker pushing for expansion of target practice, marksmanship ops

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, vice-chair of the U.S. Senate Sportsmen’s Caucus, joined a bipartisan group of senators in reintroducing a bill to create more opportunities for North Dakotans to enjoy the outdoors through target practice and marksmanship.

Proposed shooting ranges in Jamestown and Minot could benefit from the additional federal funding this bipartisan bill would make available.

“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 our bipartisan bill would 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.”

Heitkamp helped reintroduce the bill—the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act—with U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and John Boozman (R-AR).

Opportunities for Americans to safely engage in recreational and competitive shooting have declined on both public and private lands in recent years. This legislation encourages states to develop additional shooting ranges by making more funds available to state fish and wildlife agencies through the Pittman-Robertson Act, a federal aid program that is financed by excise taxes on firearms.

“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,” said Senator Bennet. “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,” said Senator Boozman.

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. This bill would allow 90 percent of those funds to be used for public target ranges and allows states to retain funding for five years instead of two. States can use these funds to pay for acquiring land, expanding existing facilities and constructing new public facilities.

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