Author: Patrick Durkin
The Archery Trade Association (ATA) is working with 36 other hunting and conservation organizations to update the way state wildlife agencies can use federal funding, a move that would strengthen recruitment efforts in archery and bowhunting.
The vehicle for those changes is the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act – H.R. 4818 in the House and S. 2690 in the Senate – which would change how conservation dollars generated by federal excise taxes (FET) can be used by state wildlife agencies. Pittman-Robertson taxes are collected in part through sales of archery equipment.
State wildlife agencies currently are restricted on how they use Pittman-Robertson funds for hunter recruitment. With the exception of some hunter-education activities and other minor recruitment efforts approved in 2000, the law’s guidelines haven’t changed since its enactment in 1937.
These revisions to the Pittman-Robertson Act (as proposed in H.R. 4818 and S. 2690) wouldn’t change how FET are charged or collected, said Jay McAninch, ATA president/CEO. They would simply give state wildlife agencies the option of using Pittman-Robertson funds for recruitment, an area desperately needing financial support.
“Many in our industry are feeling the recent downturn in hunting participation, and they’re very concerned about its impact on bowhunting,” McAninch said. “This legislation is a major step in reversing those declines. Every individual in every one of our companies needs to send a personal email to their senators and congressional representatives, and follow up with a call to their offices to ask if they will co-sponsor these bills.”
McAninch emphasized this urgent need for action by ATA members. “Many of our industry members have never engaged in the political process, but with the industry in a downturn, now is the time to ask for help,” he said. “If not now, then when will we take action to build a better future for archery and bowhunting?
“Our industry; all 50 state wildlife agencies; and all shooting, hunting and conservation organizations recognize the need to aggressively recruit, retain and re-engage hunters and recreational shooters,” McAninch continued.
He said this change to the Pittman-Robertson Act would allow state wildlife agencies to use their primary funding source – FET paid by the archery industry – to recruit and train the next generation of archers and bowhunters. In addition, the agencies could continue working to manage, protect and conserve the nation’s wildlife resources.
The ATA, which focuses in part on legislative efforts to help the archery and bowhunting industry, strongly urges all of its members to contact their representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to request they support H.R. 4818 and S. 2690.
“The success of this legislation has the potential to give a big boost to recruitment efforts for archery and bowhunting,” McAninch said.