Pittman Robertson Funds
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act ("Pittman-Robertson") authorizes the United States Secretary of Interior to work with the States, through their respective State fish and game departments (or their equivalents), on a variety of projects related to wildlife. Among these projects are the construction, operation, and maintenance of public target ranges. States are not required, however, to use Pittman-Robertson funds on target ranges. Such ranges are merely one of the uses to which the funds can be applied.
Pittman-Robertson funds are apportioned among the States. States may use the funds to pay up to 75% of the costs of a hunter safety program and the construction, operation, and maintenance of public target ranges as part of such a program. The other 25% may be derived from license fees paid by hunters (or from other sources), but not from other Federal grant programs.
In addition, for States that have not used the funds apportioned to them for a hunter safety program and the construction, operation, and maintenance of public target ranges (but, instead, used them for other Pittman-Robertson programs), Federal law further requires that $8,000,000 per year shall be apportioned among the States and used to make grants for the enhancement of various hunter education, firearm safety, and range programs, including the construction and development of firearm shooting ranges and the updating of safety features of firearm shooting ranges. For States that have used the funds apportioned to them for hunter safety program and the construction, operation, and maintenance of public target ranges, this same grant money is apportioned among the States and used to make grants to the States for any use authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act, including hunter safety programs and the construction, operation, and maintenance of public target ranges.
States receive certificates of apportionment of funds available to them. If a State wishes to avail itself of Pittman-Robertson funds, the State needs to provide a notice of desire to participate, as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. States then apply to use the funds by submitting a comprehensive wildlife management plan or grant proposal.
Although Pittman-Robertson funds are only available to the States, the States often then make the funds available to individuals, organizations, or local governments for their qualifying programs. States have their own criteria and application process for obtaining these funds. The 25% share of the total project can often be in materials, labor, or other in-kind contribution, and not necessarily cash.
If capital improvements are made with Pittman-Robertson funds, the State must control the land on which the capital improvements are to be made. States do not need to own the land, however. Control may be exercised through title, lease, easement, or agreement. Thus, a landowner could lease land to the State for the State to construct, operate, and maintain a public range. It would likely be far less difficult, however, for a State to obtain funds to construct a range on State-owned land. (Leases expire and they can be broken or terminated and, unless a lease specifies otherwise, improvements to real property by a tenant generally remain with the property.) Many states that offer grants to individuals or organizations for range development do not seem to require this level of control. Instead, control seems to be had by requiring certain use of the range.
If States do not make grants and instead use the Pittman-Robertson funds by or through their own fish and game departments, an individual, an organization, or a unit of local government can always contact State officials with proposals to open or expand public ranges, e.g.:
- Identifying state land and proposing funding sources for the remaining 25% of the costs.
- Offering privately-owned land, or land owned by local government, to the State (either by sale, lease, or donation) with the condition that the land be used for a target range (and any other conditions that do not violate the control requirement).
Please see the following list of State websites detailing grants that may be used for shooting range development. These websites have State-specific information on grant eligibility and requirements. There may be other websites out there that are not listed. In addition, the availability of grants for shooting ranges may not be well advertised, i.e., grants for ranges may be available but simply not listed among the examples of eligible projects. In such a case, websites for grant information are provided, if readily available and findable, but shooting range grants may not be listed, even if available.
States with Available Shooting Range Grants