Fort Liberty Youth, Veteran, & Military Waterfowl Day
February 5, 2024 •iSportsman Staff
Happy Thanksgiving weekend! In honor of this classic American holiday, iSportsman would like to highlight a recent outdoor recreation victory to be thankful for. The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act (HR 5110), which protects the use of federal funds in public schools for the use of “weapons for training in archery, hunting , or other shooting sports” was passed into law last month. The bill is a big victory for the outdoor recreationists, ensuring that our schools have the option to use appropriate federal funds to educate students in shooting sports while providing them a productive environment to explore their outdoor passions.
The legislation was first introduced into congress by North Carolina Representative Richard Hudson (NC-09) and Tennessee Representative Mark Green, both members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), only three months ago in August. This quick turnaround is thanks to their and many other members’ passion for outdoor educational programs.
“The benefits of hunter education and archery programs should be fully recognized as these classes teach future generations the important skills of public safety, confidence, and comradery,” Rep. Hudson said. “I have been proud to lead on this common sense legislation with my friend, Rep. Mark Green, in order to bring an end to the unnecessary war on archery and hunting classes.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) was the impetus for the new HR 5110 bill. The former Act passed in 2022 and made it possible for schools participating in outdoor sporting programs (like hunting and archery) to not be eligible to receive certain federal funds. This is because it prohibited the use of Elementary and Secondary Education Act funds for the provision of dangerous weapons in schools. While not guaranteeing that these programs would be wiped out, the mere possibility (thanks to the broad language around “dangerous weapons”) was something that it turned out all of congress wanted to avoid.
“Restoring federal funding for hunter education, archery in the schools, and other outdoor programs will help more Americans build confidence to venture into the great outdoors,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
In a rare turn of events, the HR 5110 bill passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority vote of 424 yea on September 26: There was only a single dissenting vote. The very next day, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate, eventually reaching President Joe Biden’s desk, where he signed it into law on October 10.
“Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) offers our sincere appreciation to CSC Members Reps. Green and Hudson as well as Sens. Tester and Cornyn for spearheading this bipartisan effort to ensure that important enrichment and life skill programs in schools across the country remain eligible for federal funding,” said CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane. “As schools across the country are well under way, CSF would also like to thank President Biden for quickly signing H.R. 5110 into law.”
Fortunately, congress swiftly avoided any potential loss of educational opportunities for students in outdoor recreation. With a bill so unanimously agreed upon across both sides of congress, there can be no doubt that the preservation of hunting heritage and education is a priority for America.