Dr. Dave Samuel
We read a lot about
the need to recruit young hunters to make up for the loss of the aging hunter
population. Yet, I know of no state that recruits more young hunters then
they lose via older hunter attrition each year. However, there is a new program
that has the potential to blow the lid off of youth hunter recruitment. This
could be the single most important happening in the future of hunting to date.
Two years ago Kentucky
fish and wildlife partnered with the Kentucky Department of Education and
the archery industry to start their "On Target For Life" archery
in the public schools program. Years ago archery used to be a big physical
education class, but safety concerns, lack of good equipment and good instruction,
led to it's downfall. You rarely see an archery class taught in physical
education programs anywhere. That has all changed.
The Kentucky folks
came up with a way to teach physical education instructors the basics of archery.
They got cooperation from Matthews Genesis bows to get a bow that has no draw
length, and thus can be used by any students, regardless of their size. They
secured funds to test the program in 22 public schools and the rest is history.
Students loved it. On days when they teach this two-week course, school attendance
is up and disciplinary problems are down. Teachers love it, not only because
of the aforementioned benefits, but also because the archery course is tied
into other courses such as history, physics, mathematics, etc. Archery makes
A post-course survey
showed that 48 percent of those who took an archery class, wanted to buy a
bow (and last fall, before Christmas, you could not find a kids bow to buy
in Kentucky. Stores were sold out!!!!). Not only that, but in many of the
schools where archery was taught in phys ed, the students started archery
clubs, so they could continue to shoot bows.But here is the major hunter recruitment
statistic. Thirty-eight percent of all students taking the class, wanted
to go bow hunting. OK, you say, big deal. How many students are we talking
about? The second year of this program in Kentucky, they reached kids in
190 schools. Word I get is that they will reach 150,000 this year in Kentucky.
And that will happen year after year, with 38% wanting to learn to bow hunt.
That could mean the potential to have 57,000 new hunters every year in Kentucky.
Might that turn things around?
Other states have figured
this out, and as many as 16 are now testing the program. Every state in the
country has asked Kentucky for information. So many states are starting this
course that Kentucky changed the name of the program from "Kentucky Archery
in the Schools Program," to the "National Archery in the Schools
Program." As I write this, your state may well be testing this program,
or planning to do so. You can help. Find out if your state is involved.
Go to the web site ( www.kyafield.com, or call
800 858-6549, or email email@example.com),
then get your hunting organization (whatever hunting organization you belong
to in your state) to donate the needed $2500 or so to start the program in
your local public school. If this program reached just 1/3 of all public
school children, and if only ten percent of those ended up trying bow hunting,
we'd see hunting grow by huge amounts in the United States. Pope and Young
Club donated last year, and the National Wild Turkey Federation gave the program
$100,000 (I believe it was that amount) at the Archery Trade Association show
in Indianapolis in January. I've heard that other major hunting organizations
are planning similar gifts. It's called get on the band wagon."
There it is then.
A program that works. Kids love to shoot bows ... we all know that, we've
been there. Teachers love it. There is a bow that all students can shoot.
The program has a perfect safety record. (There has never been a shooting
accident in any public school archery program). And, kids want to learn to
bow hunt after they take the class. Time for us to do our part. We've found
a model that works. Just need local money to jump start it. Once it is up
and running, you cannot slow it down. Yes, it is that good.
Another Program Targets
By Pat Lefemine
Two years ago the U.S.
Sportsman's Alliance initiated the Trailblazer Adventure Program.
The key to this program is family involvement. Simply teaching a child
to shoot or fish does not derive support at home for a child to engage
in outdoor sports. However, by involving parents, you not only excite
the child, but you attract adults who can help the child continue to
pursue the outdoor skills.
The Trailblazer Adventure Program
is comprised of two parts, Trailblazer Adventure Day and TrailMaster
During the Trailblazer Adventure Day, scouts
and their families are divided into groups and participate in outdoor
activities according to a pre-established schedule. These activities
can include target shooting, fishing and other nature interpretive activities.
Volunteers from local sportsmen’s conservation
clubs are asked to participate in the Trailblazer Adventure Day as Trail
Guides. They help set up the grounds and act as mentors to the families
during the day.
At the end of the Trailblazer Adventure Day,
families can sign up for the second part, the Trail Master Program.
This program matches interested youths and their parents with Trail
Guides who will stay in contact with the families and invite involvement
in several outdoor activities including…
- Enrollment in a hunting,
shooting, fishing or other outdoor education program
- Visiting a sporting goods store to buy equipment
- Taking a trip to a shooting range
- Going on a fishing trip
- Enjoying a hunting experience.
Upon completion of the TrailMaster Program, Scouts
will be honored with a TrailMaster Patch at the next year’s Trailblazer
If you would like more information about the
Trailblazer Adventure Program, please contact the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Foundation at (614) 888-4868 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit them online at www.trailblazeradventure.org