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June 13, 2011

A Look Back at the 2011 Shooting Sports Summit


Though there are more than 80 million gun owners in America, the hunting and shooting sports community remains a fairly tight-knit group. That unity among such a large group is unique. It’s also a big reason why our sports and our traditions have and will continue to thrive.

The unity of both our industry and our sports was on full display last week in Louisville, Kentucky. From Tuesday to Thursday, more than 175 thought leaders from throughout the industry and the hunting and shooting sports communities took part in NSSF’s 2011 Shooting Sports Summit.

Since the first Shooting Sports Summit in the 1990s, these gatherings have attracted key decision makers and opinion leaders from the firearms industry, conservation community and state wildlife agencies. Past Summits have yielded great results, sparking ideas that have led to many worthwhile programs to promote and preserve hunting and shooting.

New times demand new ideas, however, and the 2011 Shooting Sports Summit has taken up that challenge.

Background: “Models of Success”

At the last Summit, held in 2009, stakeholders associated with hunting and target shooting came together with members of Task Force 20/20, a diverse group of organizations representing manufacturers, state and federal agencies, hunting and shooting organizations, nongovernment organizations, media, shooting ranges and retailers. Overall, 26 different organizations comprise the Task Force.

All of these stakeholders came together to set an aggressive goal: to increase participation in hunting and shooting by 20 percent over the next five years.

After considering input from Task Force working groups and Summit attendees, it was decided to move forward by creating several “Models of Success” programs. Models of Success would boost state agency projects that have demonstrated success in increasing hunting and target shooting participation.

States managing these programs have demonstrated the potential for large-scale success with the ultimate goal of rolling out the model for other states to implement.

The 2011 Summit

This year’s Summit provided an overview of these Models of Success, which have the potential to be great recruitment and retention initiatives going forward for many other states for years to come.

The Summit also provided the ideal forum for new ideas to be shared. Leaders from all corners of our sports were able to make their voices heard, sharing thoughts on how we together can meet the challenges that lie ahead for hunting and shooting participation.

Among the keynote speakers was Tim Pawlenty, two-term governor of Minnesota and 2012 Republican presidential candidate. Pawlenty is an ardent supporter of Second Amendment rights and a big proponent of our shooting and hunting traditions.

Pawlenty gave a dynamic keynote address and promised hunters and shooters that he would stand in defense of them if elected.

Delivering another keynote address was new-media expert Brian Solis, best-selling author of the book “Engage.” Solis is one of the most respected names in today’s social-media community, and he shared some thought-provoking insight for those in our industry and our sports to ponder.

After all, as technology and the way we communicate continue to evolve, we as an industry must also make advancements and use these new tools to engage new, existing and lapsed hunters and shooters.

At the conclusion of this year’s Summit, a panel made up of industry and state agency representatives solicited audience feedback on a variety of topics covered during the two-day event.

Using polling technology, attendees provided instant input on several issues. Here are a few of the results from the audience polling:

  • A majority of Summit attendees believe most sportsmen and women don’t know about the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
  • When asked, “What percent of your state’s 2010 P-R funds were allocated toward target shooting?” 53 percent of attendees said 25 percent or less.
  • 69 percent of Summit attendees said they are using social media to increase interest in hunting and target shooting.
  • When asked, “Are states, manufacturers and retailers working cooperatively to promote hunting, target shooting?” 84 percent of attendees said yes.

Strength in Numbers

As with past Shooting Sports Summits, this year’s gathering again demonstrated the unity, commitment and passion of all involved in our industry and our sports. Coming together in one place with one objective — to increase participation in our sports — this group of leaders has shown it is well capable of securing a bright future for us all.

The old adage holds true: there is strength in numbers. When those numbers unite to meet a common goal, the sky is the limit.