Shooting Ranges Following the Law Should Be Protected
The Sport Shooting Range Act was enacted in 1989 and amended in 1994. The act was created to protect existing shooting ranges from nuisance lawsuits and restrictive zoning ordinances, as long as ranges were following generally accepted operation practices. A recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals misinterpreted the act to exclude those shooting ranging that perform commercial activities, but a final decision by the Supreme Court in the matter has not yet been issued since hearing arguments in April.
Proposed House Bill 4580 is meant to clear up any confusion by specifically stating that sport shooting ranges include those with commercial activities. These activities may include, but aren’t limited to, fees for instruction and range use. This bill would help to ensure the protection of the over 400 shooting ranges in Michigan, so they can continue to provide recreation, hunter safety courses, and marksmanship to create ethical and accurate hunters for generations to come.
The generally accepted operation practices are reviewed at least every 5 years through the Natural Resources Commission. The last review occurred in 2010, and was based on the operating specifications outlined in certain sections of the National Rifle Association Range Manual released in 1999. In 2012, the NRA released an updated edition of the manual which is almost identical to the 1999 version.
Each shooting range is unique and operation of the range is dependent upon its site, surrounding topography, adjoining land ownership, and shooting opportunities offered. This means that not all ranges require identical operating environments or on-site structures, but this manual can be treated as a guideline for safe and responsible range design and operation. If your range is not following these best management practices based on your particular location, you may be opening up yourself to complaints from your neighbors or your local unit of government.
The DNR has recommended that the director adopt these guidelines at the December NRC meeting as generally accepted operation practices for shooting ranges across the state.