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July 22, 2009

Young Hunters: Safe and Supervised


The following comment from NSSF has been posted to an MSNBC.com story about a youth hunting accident whose content misleads readers about Families Afield, an initiative supported jointly by NSSF, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and the National Wild Turkey Federation. The comment was posted by NSSF senior vice president Chris Dolnack.

To the Editor:

There is nothing wrong with a family member taking a youngster hunting under supervised conditions in order to pass along the many wholesome traditions that responsible hunting teaches.

By sensationalizing a youth hunting accident, however, your story paints an inaccurate image of young hunters as being unsafe and undermines the successful work of Families Afield, an initiative that seeks to remove restrictive age barriers so that youth can experience hunting with an adult mentor.

Research shows that supervised youth hunting is a safe activity. That's one reason why over the last five years 28 states have changed their hunting laws and regulations to create opportunities for youth to hunt under the supervision of an adult, resulting in 283,000 new and safe hunters. This is good news for hunting, a tradition that faces considerable challenges from urbanization, access and a changing culture.

An introduction to hunting at a young age goes hand in hand with nationwide movement to encourage children to spend more time outdoors being active, enjoying nature and gaining an appreciation for wildlife and habitat. Having tried hunting with a parent or guardian, a child can move on to take a hunter education course, which is required in all 50 states in order to purchase an adult hunting license.