Whether in a deer blind or on the firing line, the majority of hunters and target shooters share their activity with a companion, and, as a Nation Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)-funded study reveals, they're there for one overriding reason: to have fun.
Armed with these findings on what motivates people to participate, the NSSF reminds sportsmen and women to keep it "fun and social" when introducing newcomers to the shooting sports.
"This is a great time of year to invite newcomers out to the range to learn about target shooting and to prepare for hunting season. Knowing to keep things 'fun and social' can help a mentor provide a great first-time experience--one that makes the newcomer eager to come back for more," said Melissa Schilling, director of recruitment and retention for NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.
The NSSF-supported study, "Understanding Activities That Compete With Hunting and Target Shooting," was conducted by Southwick Associates and Responsive Management, two respected research firms focusing on outdoor participation and identifying challenges to growing hunting and shooting.
The goal of the study is to better understand other outdoor activities that compete with hunting and target shooting so that the right promotional strategies can be used to reach newcomers and lapsed participants.
"Maintaining America's hunting and recreational shooting traditions is important for many reasons, chief among them being that the hunting and sport shooting industries provide thousands of jobs annually," the report says. "Also, hunters and target shooters are essential to species management and habitat conservation through the funds they donate to conservation, as well as the excise taxes they pay on hunting and shooting equipment. For this reason, it is essential that the American traditions of hunting and target shooting be continued."
In addition to the "keep it fun and social" finding, the study also found the following:
- Other nature-based outdoor activities are competing with hunting and target shooting, with fishing ranked as the No. 1 and hiking and camping in the second tier.
- Electronic and indoor recreation are a threat to recruiting new hunters and target shooters, though using social media can be a powerful tool to recruit newcomers and keep current participants active, as a recent e-marketing program in Florida demonstrated by increasing hunting license renewals by 4.2 percent.
- When promoting target shooting and hunting, think convenience and perception. "People will not always choose to participate in their favorite activity. Often, activities that offer greater convenience will be chosen over favored pastimes," the report notes.
- Access to places to hunt and target shoot remains a major issue but is one that industry, organizations and government can influence and improve.—courtesy NSSF