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March 21, 2011

Families Afield Packs a Big Economic Punch



The Families Afield initiative continues to help remove barriers nationwide. Since 2004, 30 states have passed laws aimed at bringing new hunters into the field. Click the map above to see the program's successes and what challenges remain.

As states across the country scrape and claw for every dollar they can find to jumpstart the economy, sportsmen have found a solution that works for all involved: more hunters, as part of a groundbreaking program that sends hundreds of thousands of newcomers into the field.

Concerned about the impact of too many restrictions on the ability of sportsmen and sportswomen to pass on their hunting traditions to the next generation, a trio of national organizations launched a program designed to remove the red tape, and bolster hunting recruitment. The program, Families Afield, was kicked off in 2004 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the US Sportsmen’s Alliance. Their efforts have been joined by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and the National Rifle Association.

The purpose of the program is to promote passage of “Apprentice Hunting License” legislation. Under this new license, an experienced hunter can take a newcomer into the field to hunt under close supervision prior to the completion of a hunter education course.

To date, 30 states have passed Families Afield-style laws, and brand new data shows that more than 598,532 apprentice licenses have been sold since the program began. And the safety rate of the supervised apprentices has exceeded that of the average hunter.

Even more encouraging was data from a study on the first class of apprentices from the state of Ohio that began in 2006. Over the three year period, roughly half of the purchasers of apprentice licenses continued hunting.

In today’s tough economic environment it is also important to consider the economic impact that Families Afield has built in such a short amount of time.

According to Today’s Hunter, published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2008, the average hunter spends just under $2,000 per year on expenses related to hunting. This includes food, lodging, equipment, travel costs, licenses and more.

When the two pieces of research are combined, it is easy to appreciate the impact of Families Afield. By retaining half of the 598,532 apprentice hunters, with an average expenditure of $2,000, Families Afield has already had an estimated impact of nearly $600 million dollars!

The bottom line: Families Afield is a proven program that helps increase hunting numbers, while promoting a safe experience and provides much needed fuel to a slowly recovering economy. That’s why these organizations and hundreds of state and local sportsmen’s groups are supporting passage of apprentice hunting licenses in all 50 states.

More information can be found here:

Families Afield: www.familiesafield.org

National Shooting Sports Foundation: Trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. www.nssf.org.

National Wild Turkey Federation: Conservation of the wild turkey and other upland wildlife and preservation of our hunting heritage. www.nwtf.org

US Sportsmen’s Alliance: Protecting the rights of Americans to hunt, fish, and trap. www.ussportsmen.org

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation: Protecting and advancing America’s outdoor traditions through its unprecedented network of elected officials. www.sportsmenslink.org

National Rifle Association of America: www.nra.org