Task Force 20-20, the committee formed at the NSSF Shooting Sports Summit in 2008 and comprising segments of the firearms, state agency and conservation communities, has launched a Models of Success pilot program that will raise awareness of the “best-of-the-best” state recruitment and retention initiatives.
The overall goal of Task Force 20-20 is to increase hunting and shooting participation by 20 percent by 2014.
Task Force 20-20’s steering committee has identified programs in Minnesota, Oregon, Arizona and Nebraska as initiatives that can be even more effective developing new hunters and shooters if given a boost from a dedicated marketing campaign. The National Shooting Sports Foundation will fund the promotional efforts out of a $500,000 overall commitment to Task-Force 20-20’s recruitment and retention initiatives.
“NSSF is putting its financial muscle behind these most promising state programs, many of which already have a track record of success,” said Chris Dolnack, senior vice president of NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. “By building awareness of these entry-level and reactivation programs, we’ll add more shooters and hunters to our ranks. Research shows people are interested in trying hunting and shooting; these programs make it easy for them to get started or re-started.”
The four states with programs selected as Models of Success are:
MINNESOTA—The state’s Families Afield program allowing children to try hunting with an adult mentor before taking a hunter education course has been an outstanding success considering the nearly 8,500 apprentice hunting licenses purchased over the last several years. What’s needed now is a “next step” effort designed to encourage youngsters who liked their first hunt and want to pursue hunting to take a hunter education course. The course, which many youngsters take with their parents, teaches safety, hunting ethics and state hunting regulations, and awards a certificate that is necessary to purchase a hunting license on their own when they are eligible.
OREGON—The state has completed an important project that places hunting-access maps online. Now the challenge is to build awareness of these resources among hunters and drive traffic to the website. In addition to promoting use of the online tools, the marketing campaign will stress that finding access to hunting lands has become much easier thanks to these new, easy-to-use resources, thereby removing what newcomers and lapsed participants often considered a barrier to going hunting.
ARIZONA—The state has adopted a community outreach strategy utilizing NSSF’s First Shots program that provides a safe, supervised introduction to target shooting and an overview of state gun- ownership regulations. The “learn-to-shoot” program will be rolled out in five regions at state-owned and public ranges. An important component is the development of a “Second Shots” program, allowing newcomers who want to pursue their new-found passion for target shooting or hunting to do so.
NEBRASKA—A new state-owned range will be the focal point of a marketing campaign to encourage family members of all ages to use and enjoy the facility. An additional promotional effort will motivate adults who have hunting experience to take youth or adult novices hunting, utilizing the new range for sighting-in their firearms and improving their marksmanship before going afield. A dedicated website will provide helpful tips to adult mentors on how best to provide a proper introduction to hunting for a newcomer or novice.
“State wildlife agency partnerships with NSSF, industry and Task Force 20-20 are helping states reach a broader audience,” said Jeff Rawlinson of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Our new marketing campaign will undoubtedly make taking a youth hunting and shooting top of mind for Nebraska sportsmen and women. Every dad and mom wants to be a hero to their kids, and our new ad campaign suggests that this can happen in the field each year!”
These Models of Success efforts will be evaluated and discussed at the next NSSF Shooting Sports Summit in June 2011.
Models of Success is the second recruitment and retention promotional initiative launched by Task Force 20-20, following the heels of the recently launched “Take Me Hunting/Take Me Shooting” marketing campaign. That pilot program is being evaluated in South Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 5,500 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.
Bill Brassard Jr.