By Lars Dalseide | April 12 2013 11:35

From the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - Grants Available to Improve Public Access to Non-Profit or Municipal Shooting Ranges across the State

Grants Program Application Period Is Now Open Through May 31

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

In an effort to support recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women across the state and to promote safe and responsible use of firearms, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner (DEC) Joe Martens, in partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, launched the Shooting Range Small Grants Program. This effort, which encourages the development, improvement and operations of shooting ranges, is tied to Governor Cuomo's Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative.

Funding for 2013 includes $65,000 for matching grants at a three to one ratio to eligible non-profit or municipal shooting ranges across the state. Funding for the program is derived from a federal tax on firearms and ammunition, made available to state fish and wildlife agencies for their sportsman education activities.

"Shooting ranges provide important benefits to the hunting, recreational shooting, and competitive shooting communities," said Commissioner Martens. "Governor Cuomo supports these grants to ensure the hunting communities have access to ranges to improve and practice their shooting skills. With publicly accessible shooting ranges being in high demand, the Shooting Range Grants Program will prove to be a popular supportive program."

"Shooting ranges are a key to the future of shooting and hunting enabling new generations to learn to safely and responsibly handle firearms in a positive learning environment," said Bill Schwerd, New York State 4-H Shooting Sports Coordinator. "We are excited about the opportunities these grants will generate across our state. Youth and adults will learn the skills needed for a lifetime of positive experiences on the field and in the range. Cornell Cooperative Extension in Saratoga County is pleased to work with DEC on this statewide initiative. Shooters of all ages learn about New York's diverse nature environment and with an emphasis on science and technology while honing their shooting skills."

Ranges are used for developing firearms and archery familiarity and proficiency necessary for safe and ethical hunting, and to promote the careful use of firearms and archery equipment. Competitive shooting and active shooting develop skills beneficial to hunters and the law enforcement community while cultivating sportsmanship and participation in a healthy, challenging environment.

DEC and the Cornell Cooperative Extension program of Saratoga County have worked closely with stakeholders to gather ideas and suggestions for this program. To be eligible to apply, applicants must demonstrate five years of successful range operation and be willing to provide a publicly-accessible place for hunters, shooters, and archers to practice and improve their skills. Proposals should include ways to introduce newcomers or keep current and past participants involved in organized shooting sports.

Depending on available funds and number of applications received, projects will be selected annually through a competitive grant process, with allocations ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. To learn more about the goals and eligible projects within the program and to obtain the Program Guidelines and Application Packet, visit the Shooting Range Small Grants Program page on DEC's website. The 2013 Shooting Range Small Grants Program application period is now open until May 31, 2013.

Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.

For questions or comments regarding the program, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension's Melissa Bailey at mrb323@cornell.edu or call 315-793-2515.

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