The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) recently released new research, compiled by Mile Creek Communications, demonstrating the vast impact that the Families Afield program is having across the country. Since the launch of the program in 2005, 782,604 “Apprentice Hunting Licenses” have been sold. Demand for the licenses, which permit experienced hunters to take a newcomer hunting under close supervision prior to the completion of hunter education, has increased every year.
This past year continued the record breaking trend with 176,080 apprentice licenses sold. The program was originally founded to focus on young people, however the Families Afield partners quickly realized that the opportunity to purchase an apprentice hunting license should be made available to people of all ages. States that took this approach found that one-third of their apprentice licenses were sold to adults. In 2011, states reported that 52,851 adult apprentices took to the field.
“This new data on apprentice buyers is extremely encouraging,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s director of state services. “While youth will certainly play a significant role in the future of our hunting heritage, our recruitment and retention efforts must evolve beyond just that age group. Whether an apprentice is 8, 18, or 68, they are still a potential new hunter and our community should do everything in our power to eliminate barriers and welcome those individuals into our ranks.”
The Families Afield partners, which include the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the US Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, have worked to pass Families Afield bills in 32 states.