Some federal funds raised by taxing gun owners will be directed toward improvements at two nonprofit hunting clubs in the Capital Region.
The Middleburgh Rod & Gun Club in Schoharie County and the Sprite Club in Fulton County are among 13 facilities receiving money from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration program, according to a news release from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The DEC announced $135,000 in grants aimed at helping shooting ranges expand public use of their facilities.
“These grants are the latest effort of Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting program and will further efforts to develop familiarity with firearms and archery proficiency necessary for safe and ethical hunting,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in the news release.
The money is being drawn from a federal tax on firearms and ammunition that’s directed toward state fish and wildlife agencies for sportsman education efforts.
Clubs around the state, which are contributing 25 percent of the cost of projects, will be improving ranges, building new facilities and storage units and adding bathrooms, roads and hunter education classrooms.
The Sprite Club, a hunting and fishing lodge in the town of Stratford, will add a 100-yard rifle range to its offerings with the help of a $6,958 grant. The Middleburgh Rod & Gun Club will receive $6,956 towards the cost of replacing its trap machine.
Trap machines, used for shotgun shooting practice, toss out clay targets to help shooters improve their ability to hit moving targets like pheasant and grouse. Middleburgh Rod & Gun Club president Joseph Kopacz said the 300-member club has been maintaining the same machine since its inception in the mid-1950s.
A new machine will go along way towards helping hunters young and old improve their skills, Kopacz said. It would also serve as an asset for the club, which aims to help pass on shooting and hunting traditions and the values of club membership, he said.
“We’re all involved together, and we pass those traditions and the sense of responsibility onto each other,” Kopacz said.
These facilities play a key role in developing safe gun-handling skills, another goal of the grant program, according to the DEC.
“Ranges are key outlets to help develop necessary firearms and archery skills to promote the responsible use of equipment before heading out to the field,” Martens said in the news release.
Applications for a new round of funding for the Shooting Range Small Grants program will be available March 1, according to the DEC.
More information is available online at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/89577.html.