National R3 Symposium Held in Nebraska

National R3 Symposium Held in Nebraska

More than 325 individuals, including representatives from 40 state fish and wildlife agencies and a number of non-profit and industry partners, met for the first National R3 Symposium to discuss collaborative opportunities to recruit, retain and reactivate the next generation of hunters and shooters. Held from May 21-23 in Lincoln, NE, the National R3 Symposium provided a venue for partners to share the most current data on participation and the effectiveness of R3 efforts. In addition, sessions focused on the tactics that are proving successful in providing experiences that don’t just introduce people to hunting and shooting but offer a series of learning opportunities that keep them active and engaged. On the second day of the symposium, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (CAHSS), Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Archery Trade Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding signaling their commitment to work together on R3 efforts.

“We were thrilled to sign this R3 MOU during the first-ever National R3 Symposium” said John Frampton, CEO/President of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports in a release. “Recruiting, retaining and reactivating our nation’s hunters and recreational target shooters cannot be done alone, and this MOU will help to secure the partnerships needed to accomplish this critical mission together.”

Facing a rapid decline in the number of hunters, states and partners have recognized the potential implications to a conservation funding model that depends heavily on hunting license and equipment sales. Hunters and shooters provide 80 percent of the funding for wildlife management efforts. As a result, groups have been working for a number of years to improve coordination of efforts to increase participation. In 2016, the Wildlife Management Institute and the CAHSS released the first National R3 Plan that provided a framework for R3 efforts. The plan included an inventory of current R3 efforts in order for partners to coordinate resources. The goal of the plan was to help develop effective strategies and tools to create more hunters and shooting sports participants, especially among non-traditional audiences.

The plan states: “In recent years, R3 experts and researchers have begun to identify the complexity of the challenge facing stakeholders working to stabilize and increase the population of hunting and shooting sports participants in the U.S. There is a growing recognition that R3 efforts must expand beyond simply providing hands-on learning opportunities. Generating more participants from new and existing target audiences will require multi-pronged marketing campaigns, outreach efforts and business practices that provide customer-centric resources such as easy-to-access and easy-to-understand information, straightforward rules and regulations, convenient licensing structure and sales processes, and increased access to places to hunt and shoot.”

Since release of the plan, states and partners have been working to implement recommendations including hiring dedicated state R3 coordinators. The National R3 Symposium offered the first national opportunity for these providers to meet and share experiences, as well as a venue for partners to improve their collaborative efforts to increase participation.

June 15, 2018