A number of federal and state grants are available to support gun ranges. Grants range from those focused on improvements to facilities to supporting program activities to introduce the public to gun programs and to introduce experienced marksmen and -women to new shooting disciplines. Each source requires the preparation of a grant application.
Explore opportunities with the National Sports Shooting Foundation. The National Sports Shooting Foundation (NSSF) offers $500,000 each year to support programs that introduce the public to shooting opportunities. The underlying objective is to increase public participation, education and retention to improve shooter recruitment. Applicants may include public shooting facilities, private facilities that offer public programs and educational institutions. Eligible projects must support the overall objectives of NSSF plus address at least one of the following funding priorities: recruiting new shooters, reactivating lapsed shooters, encouraging active shooters to try another discipline and supporting public outreach programs designed to support the recruitment and retention of shooters.
Look into grant opportunities with the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA has funded more than $150 million in grants to support shooting-related causes. Its nationally supported programs focus on five areas: youth programs, training and safety, state funds endowment, national funds endowment and wildlife conservation. The majority of the funding provided at the NRA national level supports youth programs. Those with a youth-related activity or cause that they are seeking to fund should consider this as a funding avenue of interest.
Dig further into the NRA State Funds. These funds are formed of committees in 49 constituent states that evaluate grants on their local level. The NRA State Funds describe their funding priorities as follows: "These grants are awarded to qualifying projects or activities that promote firearms and hunting safety; enhance the marksmanship skills of those participating in the shooting sports; educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological and artistic context; or contribute to the general well-being of the public at large."
Check for special grant programs at the local and state levels. Inquire at your state Fish, Wildlife, and Parks office. For example, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Shooting Range offers grants for the creation of new gun ranges and improvement of existing shooting facilities. Similar programs exist across the United States.
Prepare to write your gun grant application by familiarizing yourself with the grant opportunities you are going to pursue. Understand the mission and objectives of the organization. Programs with the best chance align with funders' donor intent. Thoroughly review each of the stated funding priorities, and identify which one(s) your program conforms to most clearly. Demonstrate this through clear connections in the application. Take a moment to understand the priority demographics of the organization (e.g., Is it most concerned with attracted young shooters? Is it representing the interest of successful businesses serving shooters?) and map the outcomes and potential impacts of your project to the needs of those groups. Finally, establish targets and dissemination plans for your project. All of these grants have an underlying objective of increasing the public's performance in sport shooting. Answer the question of how your project achieves that goal, how many people it will reach, and what they will learn. Be clear about how you will measure, document and share the success of your program to further the objectives of the funding organization.