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June 1, 2009

The Shooting Sports Summit


The National Shooting Sports Foundation will convene the 2009 Shooting Sports Summit tomorrow to tackle major challenges facing stakeholders associated with hunting and the shooting sports.

This meeting is the next step in a year-long process that began at last year's Summit in Colorado Springs, where new research presented on hunter and shooter participation and retention served as a wake-up call for attendees. A comprehensive study, "The Future of Hunting and the Shooting Sports," showed that issues affecting hunting and shooting such as urbanization, aging demographics and access were growing more critical and that, if not responded to, could in time have an unalterable negative effect on the great pastimes that millions of Americans enjoy. Remedial action clearly is necessary, and those attending the Summit will get a clear sense of the global warming-type urgency that is being associated with these issues.

Following the 2008 Summit, Task Force 20/20 was formed comprising leaders from hunting and shooting sports organizations, federal and state wildlife agencies, the firearms industry and outdoor media to consider recommendations that were offered in the study. After several meetings, five key areas were identified that called out for "action plans": youth programs, recruitment, retention/reactivation, access and opportunity, and coordination of efforts.

These will be the areas of focus at the Summit in Weston, Fla., where in roundtable sessions stakeholders will reach a consensus on strategies to achieve the goal of increasing participation in hunting and shooting by 20 percent each over the next five years. "I hope everyone feels not only a sense of responsibility but a sense of urgency as we go into the Summit to present to the participants a plan of action for their comment and their approval, and then we need to solicit additional participation from all stakeholder segments to carry out the plan," said Michael Callahan, lead facilitator of Task Force 20/20.

Reaching this stage of cooperation with so many diversified groups has not been an easy task, and some probably thought it couldn't be done. But it has been. We can only hope that next week's Summit becomes a watershed moment, and that future generations of shooters and hunters will identify it as the turning point that allowed hunting and shooting to overcome the considerable and complex challenges it faced.

Keep up to speed with what's happening at this important meeting by reading this blog and visiting www.nssf.org, where you can watch streaming video of the presentations (but not of the roll-up-the-sleeves roundtable discussions) and see video interviews with participants and photos.

To get a sense of the work that went on leading up to the Summit, watch this video. Also, a free download of the "The Future of Hunting and the Shooting Sports" research is available.