Author: Cassie Gasaway
The archery and bowhunting industry now benefits from the additional funds and grants offered through the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, aka the P-R Modernization Act, which passed in December 2019.
The original P-R Act, officially titled the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, was established in 1937 to pay for high-priority conservation initiatives such as habitat restoration, restocking programs, hunter education programs, and public-land access and acquisitions. Federal excise taxes generated from the sale of firearms and ammunition, and later expanded to include archery equipment, were earmarked for conservation. This meant state agencies couldn’t use the funds to promote or advertise hunting.
Now, the P-R Modernization Act eliminated those restrictions, allowing state agencies to use P-R funds to promote hunting and boost hunter numbers through advertising and marketing. State agencies can also use P-R funds for recruitment, retention and reactivation, or R3 efforts. The P-R Modernization Act also earmarked an additional $5 million (above the original $3 million) from FET proceeds on archery equipment for the multistate grant program specifically to boost national and regional programs for recruiting hunters and recreational shooters.
To take advantage of the changes, the ATA partnered with state agencies and industry organizations to extend its reach and amplify its efforts. ATA staff and partners applied for several grants through the multistate grant program and are now busier than ever as they work to grow and strengthen the industry using more than $1 million in grant money.
Jennifer Mazur, ATA’s senior director of outreach and education, said some ATA members are concerned the ATA can’t work to grow the sport without funding from the 2021 ATA Show, which was recently canceled and will be conducted virtually. But that’s not the case.
“The Show isn’t the ATA’s only revenue or funding source,” Mazur said. “The government relations team and outreach and education team receive grant monies annually, and we’re prudent with that money. We’re still actively working at the national scale to preserve the sport and increase archery participation numbers. The Trade Show doesn’t stop that from happening.”
Here’s a brief overview of six projects, funded by P-R dollars, that ATA staff are currently working on.
1. Development of a Real-Time Data Dashboard
The ATA partnered with the American Sportfishing Association, state fish and wildlife agencies, and others to create a real-time data dashboard that will allow states and industry members to get an accurate picture of statewide license sale data and information. The dashboard will use automatic, secure data transfer protocols to instantly and regularly compile license sales data in a central location with direct links. The real-time model will allow state agencies and the R3 community to quickly respond when current events, like COVID-19, affect participation numbers.
2. Development of a Hunter Avidity Model to Assess and Improve R3 Participation
The ATA, U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance, and Responsive Management partnered to research and design a “Hunter Avidity Model,” which will help state agencies determine an individual hunter’s avidness. Developing an avidity scale allows state agencies to get a more accurate measure of hunter participation and engagement in their state. Understanding a hunter’s dedication to – and involvement with – hunting also allows the agency to send more specific and relevant marketing messages to participants. For example, beginning hunters might receive ideas for future hunting opportunities, whereas experienced hunters might be prompted to mentor someone new.
3. Helping State Agencies Effectively Recruit and Retain the New Locavore Audience
The ATA and several partners, including several state agencies, DJ Case & Associates, the Association of Conservation Information, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, applied for and received a grant to update the Locavore.guide website, which was created in 2016. The content, including new resources and information, will be organized in three tracts: a planning track that helps state agencies and other organizations develop a locavore-oriented program; a teaching track that allows educators to take online and in-person training to strengthen their locavore programs; and a self-training track to help individuals teach themselves how to hunt for wholesome, wild protein. The grant will provide tools and techniques needed to help states and other organizations or businesses effectively recruit the locavore audience and help them build confidence and learn to hunt.
4. Leveraging Influencers and Content Marketing to Recruit Bowhunters
The ATA is helping state agencies grow their digital and content marketing strategy by employing influencers, such as representatives from MeatEater. The partners will help states create articles and videos about conservation and bowhunting participation that encourage newcomers to buy a bowhunting license. The goal is to increase bowhunting license sales, which generates revenue for the agency.
5. Converting Target Archery Participants through R3 Efforts
The ATA partnered with USA Archery, the Archery Shooters Association, and the National Field Archery Association to study bowhunting interest and participation among current archery tournament participants. The goal is to gauge a target archer’s level of bowhunting participation to determine which R3 message resonates best with that audience.
6. Transitioning National Archery in the Schools Program Participants into Bowhunters
The ATA partnered with Archers USA to apply for a grant that would fund equipment purchases for NASP secondary schools. The grant is pending approval, but it will help transition target archery participants into bowhunters using the Individual Shooting Code and ISC custom equipment created by Archers USA. Archers who shoot instinctively with fingers would use the ISC system to become familiar with sights, release aids and other advanced gear. The process introduces beginning archers to modern archery equipment. NASP schools in six states would receive the equipment.
To learn more about ATA’s partnerships and efforts to grow archery and bowhunting participation numbers, please contact Mazur at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, at email@example.com.