[58 PA. CODE CHS. 131 AND 135]
Preliminary Provisions; Definitions; Lands and Buildings; Shooting Ranges
[52 Pa.B. 5653]
[Saturday, September 3, 2022]
To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission) proposed at its July 9, 2022, meeting to amend §§ 131.2 and 135.181 and delete § 135.182 (relating to definitions; rifle and handgun ranges; and ranges, State Game Lands No. 176) to eliminate the outdated and unnecessary text unique to State Game Lands No. 176 (SGL 176) and replace it with new Statewide shotgun range regulations for both clay bird ranges and shotgun patterning ranges under proposed § 135.182a (relating to shotgun ranges).
This proposed rulemaking will not have an adverse impact on the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth.
The authority for this proposed rulemaking is 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to Game and Wildlife Code) (code).
This proposed rulemaking was made public at the July 9, 2022, meeting of the Commission. Comments can be sent until September 21, 2022, to the Director, Information and Education, Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.
1. Purpose and Authority
The Commission manages the use and operation of the shooting ranges located on SGL 176, in part, under the provisions of § 135.182. The Commission manages the use and operation of the remainder of its 33 shooting ranges located on State game lands across this Commonwealth under the various provisions of § 135.181. The Commission reviewed this split regulatory structure and determined that the days and hours of operation and range reservation periods unique to the shooting ranges at SGL 176 are no longer necessary.
The elimination of the text in § 135.182 that is unique to SGL 176 will revert the management of the use and operation of the shooting ranges at this location entirely to the general provisions of § 135.181 which have Statewide application. This will result in a number of changes that are largely beneficial to users of the SGL 176 shooting ranges. As it relates to the proposed deletion of paragraph (1), users will see an expansion in open shooting days to now include Mondays and Tuesdays but will also see hours of operation on Sundays restricted to 12 p.m. to sunset, except those specifically designated as being open from 8 a.m. to sunset. While certainly a change to the regulatory text, the Commission does not believe that a change will be observed by users of the shooting ranges at SGL 176, as the Commission itself has not followed these unique days and hours of operation language for approximately 8 years. As it relates to the proposed deletion of paragraph (2), users will see the calendar window of opportunity for groups or organizations to reserve a range reduced from year-round to January 1 through October 1.
In replacement of the previously addressed proposed deletion of text, the Commission is proposing to insert new shotgun range regulations that will be specific to the unique needs of these types of ranges not properly addressed by other existing regulations. The Commission currently only has a few ranges designated specifically as shotgun ranges. However, the Commission intends to establish more ranges soon as a result of their increasing popularity and use. The proposed changes will set forth the types of firearms, ammunition and targets that may be used on shotgun ranges. The proposed amendments will also establish the standards for use of these shotgun ranges to help ensure that users of the ranges, as well as other persons and property in the vicinity of these ranges, are protected from harm or injury. These changes will also protect the significant investment the Commission has put into constructing the current and future facilities. The Commission is proposing to amend §§ 131.2 and 135.181 and delete § 135.182 to eliminate the outdated and unnecessary text unique to SGL 176 and replace it with proposed § 135.182a regarding new Statewide shotgun range regulations for both clay bird ranges and shotgun patterning ranges.
Section 721(a) of the code (relating to control of property) provides ''The administration of all lands or waters owned, leased or otherwise controlled by the commission shall be under the sole control of the director, and the commission shall promulgate regulations consistent with the purpose of this title for its use and protection as necessary to properly manage these lands or waters.'' The amendments to §§ 131.2, 135.181 and 135.182 are proposed under this authority.
2. Regulatory Requirements
This proposed rulemaking will amend §§ 131.2 and 135.181 and delete § 135.182 to eliminate the outdated and unnecessary text unique to SGL 176 and replace it with proposed § 135.182a regarding new Statewide shotgun range regulations for both clay bird ranges and shotgun patterning ranges.
3. Persons Affected
Persons who utilize the shooting ranges located on SGL 176 will be affected by this proposed rulemaking.
4. Cost and Paperwork Requirements
This proposed rulemaking should not result in any additional cost or paperwork.
5. Effective Date
This proposed rulemaking will be effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will remain in effect until changed by the Commission.
6. Contact Person
For further information regarding this proposed rulemaking, contact Jason L. DeCoskey, Director, Bureau of Wildlife Protection, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797, (717) 783-6526.
BRYAN J. BURHANS,
Fiscal Note: 48-485. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART III. GAME COMMISSION
CHAPTER 131. PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS
§ 131.2. Definitions.
In addition to the definitions contained in section 102 of the act (relating to definitions), the following words and terms, when used in this part or in the act, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
* * * * *
Broadhead—A fixed or mechanical tip affixed to the fore end of an arrow or bolt having sharpened cutting edges consisting of metal or naturally occurring stone.
Clay bird range—An area where saucer-shaped targets, usually made of baked clay or limestone, are launched and targeted by a shooter using a firearm that discharges multiple projectile ammunition.
Closed season—Periods of the calendar year and hours during which it is unlawful to take game or wildlife.
* * * * *
Meat or animal products—For the purpose of section 2361(a)(13) of the act (relating to unlawful acts concerning taking of furbearers), meat or animal products include artificial representations or facsimiles.
Multiple projectile ammunition—Cartridge or shell ammunition that is loaded with shot pellets or multiple loose projectiles designed to spread or scatter upon discharge from a firearm.
(i) A firearm designed and manufactured to be loaded with loose ammunition components (projectile and propellant charge) from the muzzle or forward, open end of the firearm's barrel.
* * * * *
Regular small game hunting season—The designated period of time when resident small game species may be hunted and taken.
Shotgun patterning range—An area where paper targets are placed on or affixed to a stationary backer and targeted by a shooter using a firearm that discharges multiple projectile ammunition.
Shotgun range—A firearms range designated by the Commission as a clay bird range or shotgun patterning range.
Single projectile ammunition—A cartridge or shell ammunition that is loaded with a single projectile designed to remain intact upon discharge from a firearm.
Special firearms deer season—Any firearms deer season, except muzzleloader season, that precedes the regular firearms deer season.
* * * * *
CHAPTER 135. LANDS AND BUILDINGS
Subchapter J. SHOOTING RANGES
§ 135.181. Rifle and handgun ranges.
(a) General provisions. In addition to § 135.2 (relating to unlawful actions) [and except as provided in § 135.182 (relating to ranges, State Game Lands No. 176)], the following pertain to lands under Commission ownership, lease or jurisdiction designated as rifle or handgun ranges:
* * * * *
§ 135.182. [Ranges, State Game Lands No. 176] [Reserved].
[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.
(2) A group or organization desiring to use the range shall make necessary arrangements with the Northcentral Regional Director or a designee at least 20 days in advance.]
(Editor's Note: The following section is proposed to be added and is printed in regular type to enhance readability.)
§ 135.182a. Shotgun ranges.
(a) Shotgun ranges. In addition to § 135.2 (relating to unlawful actions) the following pertain to lands under Commission ownership, lease or jurisdiction designated as shotgun ranges:
(1) Shotgun ranges are open for use from 8 a.m., prevailing time, until sunset Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to sunset Sunday, unless posted otherwise by the Commission.
(2) A person using a shotgun range is responsible for keeping the area clean and free of debris, and may not discard, deposit, leave or throw litter, except in approved refuse containers. Range users shall remove all targets from range backboards, if applicable, and collect used cartridge casings or shotshell hulls when their shooting is completed and prior to leaving the range.
(3) The Commission is not responsible for anyone injured on a shotgun range. An individual using a shotgun range does so at their own risk and assumes all responsibility for injuries to a person or property caused by or to them.
(4) When more than one person is using a shotgun range, a range officer shall be designated.
(5) A person under 16 years of age may not use a shotgun range unless they are properly accompanied and supervised by a person 18 years of age or older.
(6) The Commission or any designated local representative may close a shotgun range by posting appropriate signs to that effect. A person may not use a shotgun range during a period when the range is designated as closed.
(b) Prohibited acts. At a shotgun range located on land under Commission ownership, lease or jurisdiction, except when authorized by the appropriate regional director or a designee, it is unlawful to:
(1) Discharge a firearm from any location other than an established shooting station or shooting location on the designated firing line.
(2) Discharge a firearm on a shotgun patterning range at any target other than a paper target placed on a stationary target backboard mounted by the Commission.
(3) Discharge armor piercing, incendiary, explosive, tracer or single projectile ammunition.
(4) Be intoxicated, use or possess an intoxicating beverage or controlled substance.
(5) Discharge an automatic firearm.
(6) Load or discharge a firearm that contains more than three rounds of multiple projectile ammunition.
(7) Target or shoot at clay birds anywhere on the range except areas designated by the director by signs stating that clay bird shooting is permitted.
(8) Load or discharge a firearm or use a range facility for any reason without possessing a valid Pennsylvania hunting or furtaker license or a Commission-issued range permit signed by its holder. This prohibition does not apply to persons 15 years of age or younger or up to one person accompanying another person in possession of a valid Pennsylvania hunting or furtaker license or a Commission-issued range permit.
(9) Operate, manipulate or discharge a firearm in negligent disregard for the safety of other persons present at or nearby the range. This prohibition is specifically intended to include loading a firearm, operating or manipulating a loaded firearm, or discharging a firearm anywhere on a shotgun range while another person is downrange of the firing line.
(10) Use or discharge any single projectile ammunition.
(11) Use or discharge multiple projectile ammunition on a clay bird range that is larger than # 4 lead, # 2 steel or # 4 of any other composition or alloys of nontoxic shot approved by the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or an authorized representative under 50 CFR 20.134 (relating to approval of nontoxic shot types and shot coatings).
(12) Throw, target or shoot clay birds on a clay bird range that are composed of any substance other than baked clay, limestone or other biodegradable material.
(13) Throw clay birds on a clay bird range from any location other than the designated firing line.
(14) Use the range in violation of any other requirement of this section or posted signage.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 22-1350. Filed for public inspection September 2, 2022, 9:00 a.m.]
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