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The PA Game Commission maintains a series of (until now) free public ranges in Pennsylvania, but has recently decided to start charging for their use. People who want to use their ranges now either need to get a hunting license, or buy a yearly range pass. Which kinda makes sense, as the ranges are maintained using only the hunting license fees. The strange part? The range pass costs significantly more than the hunting license. I asked one of the game commission folks about the reason for the higher price for a range pass, and their response boiled down to ‘it’s higher because they’ll pay it.’ The price is what the Game Commission thinks the market will bear, not based on what it would actually cost to maintain the ranges. Just FYI for you PA folks.

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  1. And that is how a business is run. I a happy to see the gov learning at least some of the lessons from business.

  2. Being a PA resident, I’m happy to see this addressed on TTAG. Here’s my $0.02.

    If the Game Commission wants to start charging to use these “public” ranges then that’s fine but you can’t have it both ways Mr. Government. The range at French Creek (where I used to go but no longer use) is a dump. And it’s dangerous. The only reason anyone went there to begin with is because it was free. Now it’s not. If you want to start running these places like private businesses and charge membership fees, you should be prepared to manage them as such with improvements to the property infrastructure, range officers present, etc. But this is Pennsylvania we’re talking about. I’m not holding my breath. The only improvement I think we’ll see is the presence of a range officer whose primary purpose will be to bust people who don’t have their license and fine them.

    I liked to go there for a change of venue or to take friends there who didn’t belong to a private club so they could shoot a few times a year. I’m not sure who will go there now aside from the obvious users. Maybe this will be a good thing for them. I won’t be there to find out.

    • Damn straight. They need to start enforcing the rules and permit regs if they are gonna require it.

      What really irks me though, is how the PGC sets these sort of laws on us, and then straight up ignores the ones in place regulating them. Specifically I am speaking of Scotia range on SGL 176 in Centre County. They put these new regs in place citing ‘maintenance and manpower costs’ then, with their newly inflated budget, they open the main facility at Scotia for significantly fewer hours than the ones mandated BY STATE LAW (quoted verbatim below)

      §135.182. Ranges, State Game Lands No. 176.
      (a) In addition to §§135.2 and 135.181 (relating to unlawful actions; and rifle and handgun ranges) the following exceptions apply to ranges located on State Game Lands No. 176, Half Moon Township, Centre County:

      (1) Ranges are open to the public Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m., prevailing time, to sunset. In addition to the periods in this section for public use of the range, the Regional Director or a designee has discretion to grant special use of the range during any period. At other times, the range is closed to public use.

      Right now they are open W, R, F from when they feel like it (usually 10am) till 5pm. I think if they are going to fine us for not having range permits, we should fine the state back for each day they are not open the legally required hours. That ought to fund our range permits just nicely.

    • I’m familiar with the French Creek range and not only is it poorly maintained but the 3 round rule for all guns is ridiculous. On a nice day plenty of yahoos show up and it’s really scary. I’ve been lasered more there than any other range.
      I would rather join Kimberton or Chester County Sportsman and get a nice facility with rules to abide by.
      I don’t hunt PA any longer since decent areas are too far away. The Warwick range at French Creek was the only reason I went there.

  3. I just checked out the fees and it will only cost 30 bucks for the season. This is dirt cheap and worth every penny.

    • Until they don’t enforce it, the ranges don’t get maintained, and idiots trash the place, and the ranges aren’t open when they should be. If the PGC wants this to stay around and be workable, they need to hold up their end too.

  4. Any talk of whether the “no more than 3 round3 in rifle, 6 rounds in handgun,” rule will be modified in any way?

  5. PA ranges are paid for in part by hunting licenses, but also the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (16 U.S.C. 669-669i; 50 Stat. 917) of September 2, 1937, commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Ammunition, Firearms, and Bow and Arrow Excise Tax Fund. This is an 11% excise tax on ammunition, long guns, and bows, arrows, and accessories. A 10% excise tax is levied on handguns for this fund. Growing Greener, paid for by Pennsylvania issued bonds and tax payers, puts money into PGC ranges as well.

    If you look at how this tax money is apportioned back to the states from the federal government ( section § 669c) it is based half on the size of the state with respect to other states, and half on the percentage of hunting permits issued with respect to other states.

    So, by making the “range permit” cost more than a hunting permit (and each are equivalently easy to obtain), the PGC is ensuring that PA will issue an increased amount of hunting permits, therefore increasing their take of the Pittman Robertson funds (with respect to the other states).

    This is a manipulation of the intent of the original law in order to get a larger chunk of tax money. I think it’s dishonest and kind of slimy.

    I also don’t believe this extra money will improve hunting or the ranges. I believe it will support PGC employees’ nephews and brother-in-laws new positions sitting around not fixing/cleaning up the range. It will also allow them to hire more officers to levy fines on hunters for trivial offenses (because that is easier than catching people committing major offenses). It is a self-perpetuating beast.

    This kind of thing makes me fear for the death of the sport, as it is getting harder to find anywhere to shoot and more importantly, introduce newcomers to shooting.


  6. I’m glad I left this state a LOOOOOOOOONG time ago! Glad to see that the local and state goverment still sucks, sad to see the PGC start though!


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