The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released two new reports last Thursday documenting the importance of sportsmen's activities in America. NSSF's "Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation" and CSF's "America's Sporting Heritage, Fueling the American Economy" reports provide detailed information about participation and expenditures by American sportsmen and women. The reports were released during the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in Las Vegas.
"Many people may not fully comprehend how important hunting and fishing are to the fabric of this country. Yet there are more people who hunt or fish than go bowling, and their spending would land them at No. 24 on the Fortune 500 list," commented Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. "CSF has put together this report, utilizing data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association, to provide these real-world comparisons to what many consider more 'mainstream' industries and activities."
The NSSF report, part of the foundation for CSF's information, provides a detailed look at hunters and the trends in participation and spending. Information on 40-plus categories of U.S. hunting-related expenditures, which grew 55 percent, are outlined in NSSF's report as well as state by state statistics for variables such as: number of hunters, retail sales, taxes and jobs.
"The major growth of spending by hunters is good news for businesses throughout the country, particularly small businesses in rural areas," said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. "It also is gratifying to see the nine percent increase in hunting participation. Not only is the traditional male hunter going afield more often, but more women and novices are going hunting as well, demonstrating the widespread appeal of this great outdoors tradition."
The CSF report spotlights some of the most compelling data for hunters and anglers and is intended to provide a series of "sound bites" that resonate with both the outdoor community and the general public. For example, the 15.5 million hunters age 6 and up could fill every NASCAR track, NFL stadium, NBA arena, MLB ballpark and NHL rink in the country more than twice (15.5 million vs. 7.2 million combined capacity). In addition, anglers spent $47.7 billion in 2011, which is more than the revenues for Lockheed Martin that year ($46.9 billion). Similar comparisons for many other participation and spending statistics are found throughout the CSF report.
The recreational angling industry also developed a more detailed analysis, which CSF also drew on for their report, of anglers' impacts on the nation's economy and fisheries conservation; their report was released earlier this month. The American Sportfishing Association's (ASA) "Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation" reports that the number of anglers increased 11 percent since 2006 while fishing tackle sales grew more than 16 percent. When the expenditures of the nation's 60 million anglers are added up, the result is a significant impact on our nation's economy.
A number of reports strongly indicate that American families identify fishing as one of the best ways to spend quality time together. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing basketball or softball, skateboarding, jogging or hiking.
"Sportfishing is more than just a traditional American pastime, it is a powerful economic force, an unparalleled contributor to conservation and a vital part of the American culture," said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. "Hidden, but none-the-less real, is the multiplying factor that effectively triples what an angler spends on fishing tackle when the initial expenditure ripples through the economy in terms of dollars spent on travel, food, lodging, gas and other amenities."
A new component of the CSF report this year is the inclusion of details on the recreational boating industry. Data provided by the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows that more than one million boats changed hands in 2011 with sales of all watercraft (including sail boats, personal water craft, etc.), totaling $15 billion. In addition, 83 million adults in the U.S. participated in recreational boating that year.
"NMMA is pleased to see the uptick in participation not just within the recreational boating and fishing industries, but in outdoor activities as a whole," said NMMA Legislative Director, Jim Currie. "Not only do these activities contribute to the economies of small businesses, they ensure that tax dollars are allocated towards important conservation efforts that will keep our waterways, parks and lands available enjoyable for years to come."
Beyond the impact to businesses and local economies, sportsmen and women are the leaders in protecting fish and wildlife and their habitats. When you combine license and stamp fees, motorboat fuels, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment generated by the American System of Conservation Funding and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011, that is over $95 every second. This does not include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing, which would add another $11 billion to the mix.
The reports conducted by CSF, NSSF and ASA provide a necessary look at the different ways sportsmen's activities boost the American economy; highlighting hunting, recreational shooting and angling and boating. They also include a commonly overlooked aspect: the protection of fish and wildlife and their habitats, and the role American sportsmen and women play in conservation efforts. To view the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation's "Sportsmen's Economic Impact Report: America's Sporting Heritage, Fueling the American Economy," please click here. For the National Shooting Sports Foundation's "Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation," please click here. For a detailed look at the American Sportfishing Association's report, "Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation," click here.
Within the next few weeks, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation will be releasing highly detailed state-specific information. Each of these 50 state reports will be available at www.sportsmenslink.org
To join the conversation on the economic impact of sportsmen and women, use the Twitter hashtag #sportsmensimpact.