The recruitment, retention and reactivation effort has come a long way since its inception in 2012. Now, almost every state has an R3 coordinator and strategic programs that encourage and support new, current and lapsed hunters, anglers, target shooters and other outdoor recreationists.
Let’s learn the specifics of R3, recap a few recent R3 projects and discover how ATA members can get involved alongside ATA staff and partners.
All outdoor entities and organizations are working to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and target shooters, but before the official R3 initiative, they mostly did it individually. Thanks in part to ATA’s leadership and the establishment of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, which provides direction and facilitates R3 activities across industry, agency, and NGO sectors, businesses, nonprofits, and state and federal agency partners are now working together on coordinated efforts to help ensure significant improvements in participation numbers. As a result, retailers and manufacturers have a stronger customer base, and there are more federal excise tax, or FET, funds for state wildlife agencies. The R3 movement is good for the environment, ATA members, state wildlife agencies and everyone who is passionate about hunting and conservation.
Since 2017, Pittman-Robertson grants have funded more than 150 R3 projects across the country, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Those projects include hosting mentored hunts, teaching how-to educational classes, building new ranges, conducting marketing efforts and more. Thanks to recent legislative updates, states have been able to expand their R3 efforts.
For example, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources used grant funds to run an R3 campaign focused on attracting and increasing the number of nonresident hunters within the state. People who hunt in their home state and also travel out of state to hunt become more enthusiastic about the sport, which creates a higher likelihood of retention. The VDWR used social ads with a “Shop Now” call to action to reach 679,216 out-of-state residents who didn’t currently hold a Virginia hunting license but had previously purchased one, had hunting selected as an interest on Facebook, or looked like the target audience on Facebook. Virginia’s licensing system had an overall 22.4% increase in nonresident hunting license revenue compared with the previous year. The campaign had a 6.69 return on investment rate. The VDWR will include future campaigns in its ongoing digital advertising strategy. Click here to learn more.
These changes provide state fish and wildlife agencies with added flexibility regarding range construction or improvement over time, providing the public with more opportunities to practice safely as they embrace hunting and shooting sports. Thanks to new grants submitted since the Tar-Mark Act, the Partner with a Payer website states that 28 new ranges are underway and 137 ranges are receiving upgrades.
The ATA helps coordinate R3 efforts nationwide through leadership efforts and close collaboration with state fish and wildlife agencies, federal agency staff and other strategic partnerships. ATA’s Dan Forster and Josh Gold attend meetings, and they share ideas and advice while representing ATA on a multitude of committees, working groups and boards on behalf of ATA members.
For example, Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, provides leadership and direction to the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports as a member of the board of directors and executive committee. Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations, is one of 14 members of The Assessment Group for CAHSS. TAG members have several responsibilities, but one of the tasks is to review and provide revisions for the National Hunting and Shooting Sports Action Plan, which explores and outlines ways to reverse the decline in participation among hunters and target shooters.
Your ATA staff is also providing leadership and direction through:
The ATA’s States Contacts page lists contact information for state R3 representatives and program coordinators. CAHSS also remains focused on the R3 movement and created a new website, complete with an R3 coordinator webpage, to help states, nonprofits and industry organizations more easily find contact information and practical resources. The organization also worked with R3 partners to create the two following resources:
1. National R3 Community, an online platform that allows over 3,000 R3 professionals to communicate and collaborate daily about R3 news, concepts and projects.
2. National R3 Clearinghouse, a digital repository for hunting, recreational target shooting, angling, boating and other outdoor-recreation materials.
ATA members play a vital role in R3 efforts, providing products, technical assistance and support for new, current and lapsed archery and bowhunting participants. Get involved to help amplify current and future R3 projects by:
Need assistance? Contact Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations, to learn more or get involved. He’s available at (507) 233-8145 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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