January 23, 2019
America’s Most Successful Activation Program Attracts 2 Million to Hunting
LAS VEGAS — At a time when the hunting and shooting sports community is unified in its focus to create new hunters, Families Afield®, an alliance of several of the nation’s top hunting and industry groups, announced today in Las Vegas at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade ShowSM (SHOT Show®) that more than 2 million apprentice licenses have been sold as a result of the partners’ work. Families Afield was created in 2005 by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation to tear down the barriers that prevent attracting new hunters to the pastime. The National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation joined the effort soon thereafter.
The primary focus of the coalition has been the implementation of apprentice license programs across the United States. Families Afield partners began compiling participation numbers and other important data about the program each year in 2006. In 2018, the partnership achieved its greatest milestone, when the data revealed that 2,233,338 apprentice licenses had been sold.
Apprentice licenses, now sold in 40 states, allow a newcomer to try hunting under the supervision of an experienced mentor without having the new hunter first complete a time-consuming hunter safety course. This “try before you buy” approach has proven to be a successful tool for incentivizing youths, women and people living in urban and suburban areas, all highly sought-after by hunting and shooting sports organizations. In its success, it has also established that closely supervised hunting is safe and effective means of attracting newcomers.
Families Afield has established itself as a solid collaboration that continues to produce positive results backed by quantifiable data, the key ingredient in measuring the success of programs intended to attract new hunters. It has been successful because mentors are free to take newcomers on their favorite types of hunts which in itself encourages mentoring. At the same time, Families Afield works at nearly no cost to state wildlife agencies, which simply need to make the licenses available and promote them to hunters.
The secret to the success of Families Afield is that apprentice licenses harness the enthusiasm of current hunters and empowers them to take people hunting, even on a moment’s notice. The groups are proud to celebrate this milestone of 2 million apprentice licenses sold and look forward to others using this model of cooperation to continue its success and preserve hunting for generations to come.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit nssf.org.