Author: Cassie Scott
Protecting white-tailed deer. Increasing access for outdoor recreation. Boosting hunter participation.
Nationwide issues like those are critical to hunting’s future, and they’re at the forefront of initiatives sponsored by outdoor-industry leaders. How, though, do these initiatives affect Archery Trade Association members and our sports?
“The ATA is engaged in bowhunting activities and works on specific wildlife initiatives that benefit all or parts of our membership,” said Dan Forster, ATA’s director of government relations.
Those initiatives include programs and policies that influence laws and regulations on national, regional and state levels. The impacts of those initiatives can be positive, such as states working to remove barriers to bowhunting participation; or negative, such as states banning deer-urine scent usage, even though ATA-member manufacturers follow rules that ensure their products are as safe as possible.
“The principal role of ATA government relations is to grow bowhunting participation,” Forster said. “We do that by aligning ourselves with strategic partners and organizations, and by taking interest in archery and bowhunting initiatives nationwide that can affect our members and the industry.”
Perhaps just as important, the ATA won’t help any program that doesn’t support the industry’s goals.
“The best approach is for us to engage with leaders on the front end of these policies, regulations and developments to help ensure we provide robust opportunities for bowhunters,” Forster said. “We want to support and encourage wildlife agencies and their programs, while also recognizing potential threats to archery and bowhunting that we can address in a constructive way.”
ATA’s involvement with bowhunting and wildlife-management initiatives varies by the situation. Sometimes the ATA drives the initiative, sometimes it’s a facilitator, and sometimes it simply weighs in with opinions.
No matter what the ATA’s involvement, Forster and other ATA staff represent the ATA and its members’ interests. Let’s review seven current initiatives that require professional expertise to ensure archery and bowhunting’s well-being.
The Archery Trade Association assists in reviewing bowhunting regulations in all 50 states in hopes of removing barriers to bowhunting participation.
1. Review State Bowhunting Regulations
The ATA takes responsibility for this initiative by reviewing bowhunting regulations in all 50 states in hopes of identifying rules or laws that create unnecessary barriers to bowhunting participation. The ATA will use information from this analysis to work with states to develop or adopt customized, easily understood regulations that boost bowhunting recruitment and participation.
2. Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Programs
The ATA and other organizations launched the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports in 2010 to develop a national hunting and shooting recruitment plan. CAHSS is working to reverse declines in those sports through its recruitment, retention and reactivation plan, aka R3.
The ATA is working with CAHSS, the National Deer Alliance, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and other partners to encourage and support national, regional and state-level efforts to develop R3 plans and programs that boost bowhunting growth and participation. Members of the collaborative group provide states professional expertise, guidance and advice on how to grow bowhunting participation.
By understanding who bowhunts, how many days they bowhunt, and what equipment they use, the ATA can provide resources to help retailers adjust to the changing market.
3. Comprehensive Bowhunting Participation Survey
Each year the ATA conducts research, writes reports, and surveys individuals to provide its members and the industry relevant information and resources about archery and bowhunting. The ATA partnered with state wildlife agencies this year to conduct a comprehensive bowhunting study in 11 states to learn more about individuals with bowhunting licenses.
The data should help clarify who bowhunts, how many days they bowhunt, what equipment they use, what shooting activities they participate in, and which bowhunting-specific equipment they buy. The information should bolster bowhunter recruitment efforts, and inform the industry’s marketing efforts into how and where bowhunters spend their money.
4. Deer Protection Program
With the continuing spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer, elk and moose in North America, some state wildlife agencies banned the use of urine-based scent products in hopes of slowing CWD’s spread.
The ATA created the Deer Protection Program to address this issue. The program strives to ensure the health of wild deer herds while helping ATA-member scent manufacturers stay in business by following protocols that ensure their products’ safe collection and use in the field. In turn, hunters who like to use these products can continue to do so, with confidence that they won’t harm wild deer.
The ATA’s Deer Protection Program works to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer, elk and moose in the United States.
5. National Conservation Leadership
The ATA is working with several partners to support and develop the National Deer Alliance into a nationally recognized advocate for deer hunting and conservation. The ATA team, and Forster specifically, helps develop policies that address critical issues such as wildlife diseases, predation, access, deer conservation, and state and federal land management. The ATA also helps plan and coordinate the NDA’s National Deer Summit agenda and program.
6. National Policy Advancement
By positioning itself with strategic partners, the ATA can leverage its influence to do greater good nationwide. The partnerships include the AFWA, Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and American Wildlife Conservation Partners. Those relationships, coupled with ATA’s industry support and longstanding credibility, help it develop national policies that benefit bowhunting and related issues, which includes retaining public lands, enhancing infrastructures, and crafting conservation policies as a new administration transitions into office.
The Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations, joined forces this year to promote policy and legislative reforms that help grow outdoor recreation’s substantial economy.
7. Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable
The ATA joined ORIR, a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations, to promote policy and legislative reforms that help grow outdoor recreation’s substantial economy. The group works under new leadership on Capitol Hill to ensure archery, bowhunting, fishing, shooting, boating, RV-driving, ATV-riding and other outdoor activities keep contributing to our economy. ORIR works to ensure that tightening federal budgets don’t reduce access to public lands and waters, or diminish the quality of outdoor experiences.
The ATA’s involvement in these initiatives helps ATA members and the industry on a larger scale, while also ensuring archery and bowhunting remain strong locally and in the field. To that end, the ATA keeps expanding its programs and initiatives that help ATA members locally and in the field. Check them out here.