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How Public Funds Benefit Shooters

July 7, 2014

The Pittman-Robertson Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 and has been a main engine for funding wildlife conservation in the United States. The PR Act, as it is known, levies a 10 to 11 percent tax on the sale of ammunition, firearms, and outdoors equipment, and has garnered more than $2 billion since its inception. Not all sportsmen realize, however, that PR funds also go toward hunter education and, by extension, toward public shooting ranges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allocated more than $138 million from PR tax revenues this year to states to expand hunter-ed and shooting opportunities.

1 | Read the full entry

Guide to America's Public Land

Click on your state in the map below.

Find the top public-land destinations in your state, including:

  • Wildlife Refuges
  • State WMAs
  • National Forests
  • Fishing Access Sites

About Open Country

Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.

Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.

Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.

We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.

The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.

Submit a project for the Open Country Grant Award.
Nominate an individual for the Open Country Award.

Open Country



Event Calendar

  • June 1: Red Oak Planting in Gwinn Forest Management Unit
  • June 7: Pinegrass Restoration, Willamette River (Eugene, OR REMF Chapter). Contact.
  • June 7-8: Lower Deschutes River Thistle Cut (OR Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and OR Fish and Wildlife). Contact.
  • June 13-15: Prairie City Aspen Habitat Enhancement (Oregon Hunters Association, Capitol Chapter) Contact: 503-399-1234
  • June 21: Smith Ridge Meadows (Eugene, OR Chapter RMEF). Contact.

  • June 18, 2014

    HSUS Petitions For Lead Ammo Ban on Public Lands-2


    Our old friends at the Humane Society of the United States are at it again.

    This time the anti-hunting organization is looking to effectively shut down hunting on public land by eliminating the use of lead-based ammunition.

    This is a tactic that has been tried before and beaten back. The Center For Biological Diversity, another anti-hunting group, had its petition to the Environmental Protection Agency requesting a ban on lead-based ammunition twice rejected.

    Some states have also dealt with – and rejected – the notion of banning lead ammo. But one state has adopted a ban: California.

    But HSUS being HSUS, they figured they might as well give it another whack and have even developed a plan of attack for getting it done (See the HSUS Lead Free Campaign).

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 25, 2013

    Recreational Shooting Access Protection is Open Country Focus-0


    Since its inception, Outdoor Life's Open Country program has focused on one theme: Public access.

    Within that theme have been two distinct areas of focus: Hunting and fishing. Nothing wrong with that. Hunting and fishing are primary passions of those who utilize public lands and, of course, who read Outdoor Life.

    But we have neglected an important demographic of the outdoors community: Recreational shooters. And that group has had plenty of battles to wage when it comes to public land use.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 31, 2013

    Surge in Gun Sales Creates Huge Funding Boost for State and Federal Wildlife Programs-1


    A Congressional Services Report documents how booming firearms and ammunition sales, spurred by fears of potentially overbearing gun control laws, have generated record-setting excise tax revenues dedicated to federal and state habitat and wildlife restoration programs.
    According to specialists M. Lynne Corn and Jane G. Gravelle in a March 12 Congressional Services Report, excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment totaled $555.3 million in Fiscal Year 2012, which ended on Oct 1, 2012, an increase of almost 30 percent from the $388 million tallied in FY2011.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • April 26, 2012

    HR 4089 Protects Recreational Shooting Rights on Public Land-1


    Our public lands aren’t just for hunting. They’re for hiking, catching frogs and watching birds...and shooting.

    The Bureau of Land Management oversees lots of these places, the ultimate multi-use properties. They have names like Coal Creek Road. Or 17 Mile, which is north of Billings, Montana and is one of the most popular places in the state for shooters to unleash a few rounds. These pieces of public land aren’t all tailor-made shooting ranges, but a lot of them are. They usually have a few refrigerators, a junked out 1978 Datsun and enough shell casings to refinance a 2500 square foot Colonial with the price of recycled brass.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • April 3, 2012

    Keeping Shooting Ranges Open-0


    Having access to good places to shoot is a top concern among gun owners no matter whether they are hunters who only go to sight-in before opening day or they are serious 3-Gunners or trap shooters whose annual round count is in the thousands.

    Shooting ranges, both public and private, face many challenges to stay open, but fortunately, interest in the shooting sports is not one of them.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • February 29, 2012

    Contact Your Congressperson, Help Pass the Sportmen's Heritage Act of 2012 -0


    If you're interested in protecting your hunting, fishing, and shooting rights, it's time to pick up the phone. The U.S. House Committee of Natural Resources is expected to vote on H.R. 4089, a package of bills aimed at protecting these rights, later today (click  the link for highlights on H.R. 4089). 

    If the bill passes the committee meeting, it will go before the rest of the House. Contact your congressperson and follow the bill with the contact information below.

    [ Read Full Post ]