R3 Forum Recap

Stakeholders from across the country recently met to discuss the future of hunting and shooting sports and how changing demographics are impacting communication techniques.
Photo Credit: CAHSS

Author: Jackie Holbrook

The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports recently held a National R3 Symposium. The event included over 200 R3 professionals from more than 100 agencies and organizations, including two Archery Trade Association staff members. The event was held May 2-5, 2022, at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

“There was a wealth of information, dialogue and ideas exchanged throughout that symposium,” said Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer. “It will hopefully help integrate, motivate and direct the work of the community at large to grow participation in hunting and shooting sports.”

Panelists discussed the stereotypes of minorities in the media and the importance of the industry reflecting the changing demographics as more women, young adults and people of color take up hunting. Photo Credit: CAHSS

Forster represents the ATA on the council board of directors. The board held a meeting during the symposium. Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations, also was in attendance. Gold sits on The Assessment Group, a group that is assessing the National Hunting and Shooting Sports Action Plan and additional R3 resources. TAG also held a meeting during the symposium. This was the first in-person National R3 Symposium since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This symposium was a chance for R3 practitioners to get together in person to compare notes and shine a light on things that are working so that others can replicate them,” Forster said.

R3 stands for “recruit, retain and reactivate.” It’s a movement targeting new, current and lapsed hunters, anglers, target shooters and other outdoor recreationists. By engaging these individuals, retailers and manufacturers attract, maintain and grow more customers — thus providing robust funding for state wildlife agencies. R3 efforts can be done on a local, state and national level. The symposium is an opportunity for interested individuals and organizations to meet, track trends, address issues and swap ideas on how to improve.

“The information discussed will help guide strategic efforts in the coming years,” Forster said.

Panelists discussed the stereotypes of minorities in the media and the importance of the industry reflecting the changing demographics as more women, young adults and people of color take up hunting. Photo Credit: CAHSS

One of the main topics at the symposium was the influx of new hunters during the pandemic. Additionally, in recent years, more women, minorities and young people are taking up hunting. Retailers, manufacturers and state agencies must reflect these changing demographics. One panel, titled “Portrayal of People of Color – Stereotypes and Opportunities,” discussed the stereotypes of minorities in the media. It addressed how to break down preconceived perceptions and replace them with factual and thoughtful narratives.

“They talked about the importance of storytelling, both in talking about the participants and programs,” Gold said. “Storytelling is important when it comes to looking at new participants coming in and what state agencies and others can do to retain these audiences and also recruit more authentically.”

Proper messaging is critical to R3 efforts. It’s important to keep people informed and engaged. As communication methods become more advanced and widespread, people involved in R3 need to learn how to tailor the messaging through the proper channels and methods.

State agencies and retailers should expand range opportunities. Photo Credit: CAHSS

The symposium also addressed audiences that may not get enough attention: nonhunters like recreational shooters and people who own firearms for home protection, for example. These groups are growing. Agencies need to be relevant to these individuals, and one way to reach them is through increased range access.

“States and others should be looking strategically at how we expand range opportunities to benefit customers that are contributing financially through equipment purchases but aren’t hunting and aren’t necessarily interested in the conservation work of state fish and wildlife agencies,” Forster said.

ATA has several resources available to members to help with R3 efforts.

The ATA’s Archery Range Guides are a great resource for agencies and organizations. They include the Community Park Guide, Temporary Range Guide and Retail Guide. In addition to the Archery Range Guides, ATA has launched the Archery Range and Program Call for Projects to facilitate efforts across the country.

The Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports has also developed a National R3 Community website, which allows stakeholders to share ideas and resources. The website is a great resource to learn about the importance of R3 efforts and track trends. In 2021, hunting license sales were down by 1.9%, but they remain about pre-pandemic levels. Hunting license sales were up 4.9% in 2020, according to CAHSS. To learn more and take a look at these trends, request an invite here.

For more information about R3 initiatives, you can also contact Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations, at or (507) 233-8145.

The best and most effective way to get involved in R3 is to work with your local R3 coordinator. You can find contact information for R3 coordinators and national partners here.

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