Experts believe that America’s decline in hunting is directly linked to the negative public attitudes towards guns and hunting by today’s generation. In fact, studies confirm that the millennial generation is less likely to be involved with shooting sports than previous generations because of their negative perceptions about guns and harvesting game animals.
That’s why it’s very unlikely that many R3 programs that tell young people to, “go hunting”, or “try shooting” will result in changing those attitudes or be successful at recruiting a new hunter. Most R3 professionals in state and federal agencies agree that recruitment into hunting is more of a stepping-stone process that first requires a young person, using their own value system, to decide for themselves that a shooting sport could be a fun and safe outdoor activity they would like to try. Then they need realistic pathways to expand their shooting sports interests into actually hunting.
So if the process of recruiting young people first begins with them deciding for themselves to try shooting sports or hunting, what tools can effectively make that impression? Research supports that today’s youth are greatly influenced in their lifestyle and recreational decisions in two ways: 1) Peer-hosted media that entertains, engages and educates them, 2) Peer-driven classroom activities where they share in a process of discovery and self expression. And once kids form their own value-based decisions, they have a major influence on their family’s recreational activities.
Unfortunately, most R3 agencies or organizations simply don’t have the multi-million dollar staff, media infrastructure, an Emmy-winning syndicated broadcast television and digital networks, or today’s technical experience to produce and nationally distribute television programs and classroom educational curriculum that can inspire millions of kids to want to explore shooting sports or to go hunting some day.