NSSF History

Following a series of industry meetings in the late 1950s sponsored by Field & Stream magazine, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was chartered in 1961 to promote a better understanding of and a greater participation in hunting and the shooting sports.

In 1963, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) merged its promotional arm into the NSSF enabling the foundation to significantly expand its efforts and establish its own headquarters in Riverside, Conn.

Recognizing the growing urbanization of America, NSSF’s first efforts sought to build public awareness of the sportsman’s role in conservation, and the contributions of our system of wildlife management through landmark efforts such as the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day, established in 1973.

Today NHF Day is sponsored in cooperation with Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Mo.

Over the years, the foundation has continued its public outreach efforts while also developing a wide array of programs to encourage new and added participation in hunting and the target shooting sports. In the early 1980s, NSSF was in the forefront of promoting the then new sport of sporting clays and generating widespread publicity for shooting games of all kinds. Kicked-off in 1988, “Sportsman’s Team Challenge,” for example, was the first made-for-TV shooting competition appearing on ESPN through the 1990s.

The SPORTSMAN’S TEAM CHALLENGE offered unique courses of fire in rifle, shotgun and handgun.

Over the past several decades, NSSF has greatly expanded its efforts to strengthen our hunting and shooting sports traditions through nationally based efforts such as STEP OUTSIDE, our Families Afield initiative, FIRST SHOTS and Hunting Heritage Partnership which provides grants to our state wildlife agencies for programs that improve access and opportunity.

For thousands of newcomers across the country, NSSF’s First Shots is their introduction to the shooting sports.

Since its inception, NSSF has been a leader in building opportunities for the next generation to enjoy hunting and the shooting sports. NSSF has long been a major supporter of the nation’s youth shooting programs as well as creating its own programs such as the Scholastic Clay Target Program and similar efforts at the collegiate level.

The Scholastic Clay Target Program has become one of America’s premier youth shooting programs. Often described as the Little League of target shooting, SCTP provides a grassroots program to introduce elementary to high school-age students to competition in trap, skeet and sporting clays.

Firearms safety education has also been a fundamental mission of NSSF throughout its history. Over the decades, the foundation has distributed many millions of safety brochures, and delivered our safety messages on television, radio and in print. Initiated in 1999, NSSF’s Project ChildSafe has now distributed more than 35 million firearm safety kits in all 50 states.

To distribute millions of gun lock safety kits, Project ChildSafe relied on more than a dozen trucks driven by trained program representatives to deliver safety materials and safety messages to law enforcement departments in every state.

In its modern era, the NSSF has become actively engaged in representing our members in respect to key legal, regulatory and legislative issues through its Government Relations division.

Since 1979, critical funding for NSSF’s many programs and activities has come from the NSSF owned industry trade show, the SHOT SHOW. From an inaugural event of 50,000 square feet of exhibit space, the show has grown to some 630,000 square feet of exhibit space today and is the largest trade exposition of its kind in the world.

Since its founding in 1961, the foundation has sought to represent the broad scope of the hunting and shooting sports industry. Members include manufacturers of sporting firearms and ammunition, a wide array of accessory and equipment manufacturers as well as distributors, retailers, shooting ranges and many other companies and organizations in the hunting and shooting sports community. Today, membership includes thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide.