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October 1, 2019

NSSF Develops Industry/Agency Partnerships that Increase Knowledge and Participation

By Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director, Research and Market Development

NSSF® staff recently supported two Partner with a Payer (PWP) field days, in Rhode Island and Alabama. Partner with a Payer was developed in 2016 by NSSF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Northeast region and is now being scaled nationally. The objective of this program is to strengthen partnerships between the firearms industry and state and federal wildlife agencies. Manufacturers of firearms and ammunition pay an excise tax on the sales of their products, which supports a large percentage of state wildlife agency budgets allowing those agencies to conduct wildlife restoration and habitat improvement projects, train tomorrow’s hunters, and develop and maintain public shooting facilities. Wildlife agencies utilize these Partner with a Payer field days to demonstrate the return on excise tax investments to the industry.

Rhode Island Field Day

Partner with a Payer

The Rhode Island event, held Sept. 11, consisted of nearly 40 participants from the state’s Department of Environmental Management, USFWS, Smith & Wesson, SIG Sauer, state legislators and NSSF staff members Jim Curcuruto and Jake McGuigan. NSSF videographers also attended to document the day’s events that included a tour of the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in West Kingston, Rhode Island. Attendees accompanied DGF biologists and learned about ongoing projects supported by excise tax funding, including wetland enhancements for improved waterfowl hunting and early successional forest management which improves habitat for game species such as American woodcock, ruffed grouse and cottontail rabbits.

Partner with a Payer Shoot

Attendees also had the opportunity to pull the trigger at the WMA’s shooting range, which opened in 2018 thanks to more than $2 million in excise taxes. The range allows target shooters a place to shoot their firearms at distances up to 100 yards. The property is utilized year-round and includes special recruitment events specific to first-timers, women and youth. A working lunch was held on site, with discussions pertaining to the recent passage of the range bill (legislation that gives state agencies more flexibility to allow for Pittman-Robertson funds to be used for the development and maintenance of public shooting ranges) and how the new, lower, 10-percent match will assist state agencies in building ranges in the future.

Alabama Field Day

Partner with a Payer - Alabama Group
Photo Courtesy of Billy Pope, Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

NSSF’s President, Joe Bartozzi, along with staff members Jim Curcuruto and Trevor Santos, then traveled south on Sept. 17 to participate in a Partner with a Payer event hosted by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. They were joined by high-ranking USFWS officials and staff from Alabama-based manufacturers Kimber and Remington. Attendees learned about manufacturer-paid excise tax monies used to support the purchase of the Portland Landing Special Opportunity Area, an 8,700-acre tract of land offering public-land hunting in Alabama.

Partner with a Payer - Alabama Hunt
Photo Courtesy of Billy Pope, Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

A tour of the property included presentations on the impact of feral hogs to the environment and how the department is managing the population, as well as information on how biologists capture and band waterfowl and doves there and utilize band reporting to help set bag limits and season dates. After a relationship-building supper, attendees had the opportunity to participate in a nighttime hog hunt where several attendees harvested hogs, including a large boar weighing 189 pounds taken by NSSF President Joe Bartozzi.

More Partner with a Payer Events

In addition to field days, PWP events have included tours of Colt, Smith & Wesson and Mossberg manufacturing facilities, which has allowed state agency staff to better understand the people and the process it takes to manufacture excise-tax products.

The PWP events in Rhode Island and Alabama also included staff from the Archery Trade Association and the American Sportfishing Association, to help them learn the PWP model in an effort to conduct similar events within their industries.

Wildlife agencies have direct contact with a receptive audience of more than 20 million outdoorsmen and women, and NSSF’s ongoing efforts to improve relations between industry and agencies have resulted in many states adopting NSSF initiatives such as National Shooting Sports Month® and the +ONESM movement.

For additional information on the Partner with a Payer initiative, contact NSSF Director of Research and Market Development Jim Curcuruto at 203-426-1320 x234.

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