July 31, 2019
State Resource Agencies and National Shooting Sports Month — A “Natural” Combination
National Shooting Sports Month® isn’t just for shooting ranges and FFL retailers. By partnering with NSSF® this August to help celebrate the shooting sports, state wildlife and natural resource agencies are building partnerships within the firearms industry and in their communities, and it’s making a positive difference.
Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
Marisa Futral, Hunter Education Coordinator for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, tells me that last year the agency hosted five different range-day events throughout the state in which they invited the public to come out and try shooting for the first time. The department provided a variety of shotguns and rifles for the first-timers and also offered assistance for those who wanted to shoot or sight in their own firearms. “We only did half days last year,” she says, noting that, even though it is very hot that time of year in Alabama, each range averaged between 20 and 25 participants. “We’re going to do a little bit longer this year.”
To help get more people out this year, Futral says her agency is going to promote its efforts more on Facebook, put out more flyers and host a “bring a new shooter” contest to support the +ONESM Movement. Futral also says it’s “very easy” to list events on the National Shooting Sports Month calendar at ShootingSportsMonth.org, where she includes the agency’s various events throughout the state and the contact information.
“NSSF’s online toolkits come in super helpful for putting our flyers together,” she says of some of the resources available. “There’s a format you can use on Facebook, and NSSF has flyers set up if you want to put them on your webpage.”
As for the contest to support the +ONE Movement, Futral says there will be a grand prize, but that anybody who brings a new shooter to the range with them will get a prize — either a shirt or a hat or a cup. “If they’re thinking about getting into shooting or they want to learn about home- or self-defense, they can come out and get instruction. We have equipment that people can use and certified instructors to help them learn how to use them.”
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
In the Midwest, Iowa’s Hunter Education Administrator and R3 Coordinator, Megan Wisecup, says last year the Iowa Department of Natural Resources was in the midst of rebuilding significant range infrastructure and was focused on general operations and upkeep. Even so, it did its part of help raise awareness for National Shooting Sports Month by sending out a press release, informing hunter educators in a newsletter and sending emails to hunter education instructors.
With the renovations done, this year Wisecup has started as early as June with a social media push using #LetsGoShooting during the State Shooting Sports Championship, where the agency hosted four state tournaments and had more than 10,000 participants and spectators in attendance. “We also developed a Snapchat filter that participants and spectators could use that featured #LetsGoShooting and the Iowa SCTP [Scholastic Clay Target Program] Championship logos, and we utilized the logo and hashtag on the @IowaSCTP Facebook and Instagram pages,” she says, adding that the agency has seen “significant growth” on both social media channels as a result of that robust effort in June.
To come up with ideas for this August, Wisecup says the agency relied heavily on NSSF, particularly regional and national meetings they attended, and on internal marketing and outreach plans. “We have plans to post 10 events to the ShootingSportsMonth.org calendar in 2019,” says Wisecup. “We will then begin ramping up our promotional efforts.”
The 10 events planned for August 2019 cover the entire spectrum of shooting and range from annual pass promotions for department-owned ranges in the Des Moines area to bowling pin and rimfire shoots, barbeque socials and how-to workshops. “Now that we have both ranges back up and running, we are planning a more robust effort to celebrate National Shooting Sports Month,” Wisecup points out.
To promote these events, Wisecup says she is not only listing the events on the ShootingSportsMonth.org calendar but will again issue press releases, use partner-driven social media efforts, television interviews and even have signage at the archery range during Iowa’s State Fair that draws approximately 1 million visitors.
Embracing NSSF’s +ONE Movement at the same time, Wisecup says the department’s R3 (recruitment, retention and reactivation) efforts and approaches to drawing in, reintroducing and keeping people to the hunting and shooting sports active have become more defined across the state. “Since last year, we have developed an R3 Task Force targeting marketing and communication,” she says. “Piggybacking off of national efforts and campaigns such as NSSF’s +ONE Movement will be key for us as we continue to move towards more unified, common messaging.”
To help with that messaging, Wisecup finds the tools provided in the National Shooting Sports Month and +ONE toolkits particularly helpful. Specifically, she plans to use the logos, images, suggested social/talking points, hashtags and video assets available and then customize them to the agency’s needs. “Our plan is to get out a minimum of five to six customized social post suggestions to our partners — NGOs, county conservation boards and industry — to utilize on their various social platforms throughout August,” Wisecup says. “Our reasoning behind this is that the more outlets that reach individuals with common, branded messages and themes, the more likely the message will resonate and stick with them. Also, by utilizing various elements of the toolkit, the messaging should be more likely to be retained by our target audiences as they will be able to see, hear and even have the opportunity to experience a variety of shooting sports activities.”
Utah Division of Wildlife
In rural Utah, Division of Wildlife Resources Conservation Outreach Manager Tonya Kieffer-Selby says that last year the agency hosted a UBAD — Uintah Basin Adventure Day — event where they took anyone who signed up or had an interest to the agency’s local shooting complex where they could try a variety of different activities. “We did shotgun shooting and archery, and participants could shoot different calibers of rifles,” says Kieffer-Selby of the adventure day.
The idea came from the division’s law enforcement section, as it wanted to host something that was unique to the area. “National Shooting Sports Month allowed us the opportunity to give people a variety of opportunities to try different shooting sports,” says Kieffer-Selby. “Where we live in rural Utah, a lot of folks already have opportunities to shoot, but that does not mean everyone.”
To help promote National Shooting Sports Month this year, Kieffer-Selby says her agency will “absolutely” be using the provided toolkit. “That toolkit is very well put together. We are huge proponents of the message NSSF is putting out, and it helps us cross-message as well.” She added that, as a government agency, a lot of what they do is build partnerships. “The partnerships that we have created in many states is what helps our missions survive, and so it would behoove any department of wildlife in any state to create a partnership with NSSF.”