Manasquan, NJ –-(Ammoland.com)- At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) hearing today, Mark Udall highlighted the economic and recreational opportunities of his bill to expand access to public shooting ranges and urged EPW to pass out of committee the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S.1249).
Udall’s bill received this hearing thanks to over 5,300 Coloradans who signed Udall’s petition and others who shared personal stories backing his bill to develop public shooting ranges. The measure would give states the flexibility to spend their already-allotted Pittman-Robertson funds to create or improve public shooting ranges.
“This bill will be a tremendous boon for our sportsmen and outdoor recreation communities, which are not only an integral part of our national heritage but also a key component of our economy, especially in rural areas,” Udall said in his remarks. “That’s why my bill has broad support within the sportsmen community and bipartisan support here in the Congress.”
Udall ended his remarks by recounting two personal stories from more than 100 submitted by Coloradans in support of boosting access to public shooting ranges.
Director Daniel Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in citing support for the bill, said, “Shooting, whether with gun or bow, is an American tradition. Creating opportunities for young Americans to experience this tradition, and pursue the goal of ‘marksmanship,’ also provides opportunity for them to learn about responsibility, about dedication, about accomplishment.”
“Shooting ranges are, like wetlands, a form of infrastructure for conservation and this bill would enable the use of existing sportsmen-conservationist dollars to pay for them, which, in turn will create more revenue for this fund and recruit more participants to the sports that support wildlife and habitat conservation,” said Dr. Greg Schildwachter of Watershed Results LLC. “This bill is timely to address two pressing problems: (a) declining opportunity to participate in shooting sports and (b) obstacles to recreational shooting on public lands. … The need is acute for involving young people and also former participants in shooting sports, hunting, and other outdoor recreation.”
This hearing is an important first step in the legislative process. Udall will press the members to vote and pass the bill out of committee at their next meeting.
Please contact Tara Trujillo at 202-224-4334.
The following is the text of Udall’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Cardin and Ranking Member Sessions. I am very grateful to you and Chairwoman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe for including my bipartisan legislation in today’s hearing. It’s been a pleasure working with the committee on this bill.
As you know, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act is designed to encourage the development of high-quality shooting ranges, which are open to the public, by amending certain parts of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. That act provides federal support for certain wildlife restoration and hunter education programs. My bill will give the states greater flexibility over federal dollars they already receive from Pittman-Robertson funds, freeing up more money to build shooting ranges.
Pittman-Robertson funds come from an excise tax on the sale of shooting and archery equipment. My bill helps those paying into the system – primarily sportsmen – get a better return on their investment. And by focusing on flexibility with already allocated funds, my legislation won’t cost the taxpayer a dime.
This bill will be a tremendous boon for our sportsmen and outdoor recreation communities, which are not only an integral part of our national heritage but also a key component of our economy, especially in rural areas.
That’s why my bill has broad support within the sportsmen community and bipartisan support here in the Congress. I am grateful for the support this bill has gotten within the shooting community, including for example, from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Rifle Association.
I have also heard overwhelming support for my bill from within Colorado. Earlier this year, I asked Coloradans to tell me why they want to see development of more high-quality shooting ranges. Let me close with their words.
From Donald in Pagosa Springs, Colorado:
“I’ve been a hunter education instructor for over thirty years and helped teach over 5000 students. Since we have no public shooting facilities in the Pagosa Springs area, it’s always a challenge to find a safe and accessible location for the range portion of the class. We desperately need a range facility in our area to be able to continue teaching our kids and those who are new to hunting how to safely handle firearms.”
From Gary in Aurora, Colorado:
“My father helped to found and build a recreational shooting facility in the late 1950s. I was literally brought up at the range…I spent every weekend working there. These ranges are not just a place to shoot. They are a close knit family full of diverse people. Our club has also taught my son the love of shooting and safety along with me. I cannot stress this enough as we are seeing more and more clubs closing down: we need more places to teach, enjoy and relax with fellow shooters.”
Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. I look forward to working with the committee to advance this bill.