Michael Bane has a very excellent post on where the shooting culture has gone, and how the industry has consistently still remained stuck in a hunting mentality. He talks about a suggestion he made here:
In a white paper several years back I argued for a 2-tier recruitment and retention system for the industry and the culture. My argument was that for newcomers participation in formal and informal shooting sports faced 1 major barrier, purchase of a firearm, while participation in hunting had 2 major barriers, purchase of a firearm and killing an animal. Rather than pour huge amounts of money into a 2-barrier jump hunter recruitment with what amounted to very low success rates, I suggested we put the lions’ share of the money into recruitment for target shooting (both formal and informal), focusing on self-defense as the primary driver, and get them past Barrier 1. THEN create a mentoring system â€” which has been repeatedly shown to work very well â€” to introduce newcomers who got past the first barrier to the sport of hunting.
I think he’s essentially correct in this, and my experience, the second barrier to get into hunting is far far higher than the first. I am someone who would be willing to go exactly the path Michael is describing. I got into the shooting culture through the first path, and would be willing to make the second jump to hunting. The problem? You have to take hunters education to obtain a hunting license in most states, and hunters education is a multi-day course. Generally speaking you have to be willing to give up a weeknight and weekend day to complete it.
My time is not exactly plentiful, and this represents a fairly significant barrier for me, all things considering. Sure, maybe if I disrupting the blogging schedule for a few days, or took a few days off work, I could get it done. But my interest in hunting is pretty peripheral. I would like to try it, but I’m not driven to try it. But I can tell you for sure if I had not come into the shooting culture at all my interest would be pretty close to zero.
I could be pushed over the number two barrier, given sufficient motivation, which perhaps I will get at some point. I think Michael’s two part strategy is a reasonable one if the industry wants to keep hunting alive.