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Reaching the Next Generation of Sportsmen

Today brings news that the fishing & boating industry group is taking another big step in their outreach to recruit young anglers as part of the Take Me Fishing campaign. They have worked with the Boy Scouts to offer up new merit badges for taking lessons in boating and fishing.

About the Scouting Patch Program –

* Passport Patch – Cub Scouts and Scouts aged 6 to 11 earn this patch by completing an introductory six-step program that teaches various skills to be knowledgeable, safe and confident while boating and fishing. The Passport to Fishing and Boating Program has been recognized by the Boy Scouts of America for excellence in aquatic education.
* First Catch Patch – Cub Scouts and Scouts aged 6 to 11 earn this patch by organizing a real-life fishing trip using the resources found on TakeMeFishing.org.
* Mentor Patch – Scouts aged 12 to 17 earn this patch by organizing a fishing trip for newcomers to the sport. The Mentor Patch develops leadership qualities and introduces someone new to boating and fishing.

These are obviously branded patches, but I have to admit that it will be interesting to see what comes of it – particularly the Mentor Patch. At that point, you go far beyond the basic fishing patch into actually encouraging kids to organize fishing trips for others.

I find this interesting because of how many shooters I know who cite the Boy Scouts as their first foray into the gun culture. It’s not surprising since there are two different badge categories for shooting (rifle & shotgun). It is interesting though that there is no hunting badge or anything that going to a range that only allows handguns would earn.

RBFF research reveals “90 percent of adult outdoor enthusiasts were introduced to nature-based activities between the ages of five and 18.” In that spirit, as part of a year-end donation, we called up the NRA Foundation and made a donation to youth programs. A few people come to shooting as an adult (I did in college), but an overwhelming number of people I’ve met who not only shoot, but actively do something to advance our movement (political or sporting) have been shooters since they were children.

One Response to “Reaching the Next Generation of Sportsmen”

  1. My brief and possibly incorrect local history of guns & boyscouts (information is mostly 80s, camp Jarvis, Devon 50 in Wayne, PA). We had a rifle range and a bunch of .22s but it was shut down in the early 80s. But we continued to get cheap ammo from a federal program for riflery (I vaguely recall that it was originally an NRA backed program); so our troop ended up donating the discounted ammo to Camp Horseshoe which is a much larger summer camp straddling the Mason-Dixon line in MD/PA (we might have donated our rifles as well). Even so riflery/shotgun were the most expensive badges you could get – I don’t think other activities even had a use cost, but you had to buy tickets to engage in shooting.

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