If You Hunt and Fish, Get Familiar with R3
While at SHOT Show back in January, I attended a seminar on R3 hosted by the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
During this discussion, the presidents from both organizations gave their pitches in support of R3 and how their respective organizations are working to implement it. I had previously seen a similar presentation at ICAST in Orlando, FL last summer. I was pleased to see this seminar find its way to SHOT Show too.
I first became familiar with R3 in late 2016 when my friend Cyrus Baird of Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports (CAHSS) introduced me to it. Explaining it as marketing for the outdoor industry, R3 is an initiative geared towards recruiting, retaining, and reactivating (R3) participation in hunting. State wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and similar groups have started to get on board too. There's a similar initiative in the fishing industry called "60 in 60" put on by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) to similarly enhance participation in recreational fishing and boating. Both organizations hope their respective industries embrace these plans.
Given the latest findings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, it's important for R3 to take off and be successfully implemented across the country. The full report can be found here.
From 2011-2016, hunting participation fell 2 million hunters and now hovers around 11.5 million total. In 2011, the number of hunters hovered at 13.7 million—or a 16.1 percent decrease. This time period saw total expenditures for hunting drop 29 percent from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion. This is alarming. Here's more from the same report:
Almost 39.6 million Americans participated in fishing, hunting, or both sports in 2016. These sportsmen and women spent $41.7 billion on equipment, $30.9 billion on trips, and $7.8 billion on licenses and fees, membership dues and contributions, land leasing and ownership, and plantings for hunting. On average, each sportsperson spent $2,034 in 2016
As of February 2018, that outdoor recreation now accounts for two percent of the GDP with an economic value priced at $373 billion.
A recent article from NPR similarly made the argument that declining hunting numbers are bad for conservation:
State wildlife agencies and the country's wildlife conservation system are heavily dependent on sportsmen for funding. Money generated from license fees and excise taxes on guns, ammunition and angling equipment provide about 60 percent of the funding for state wildlife agencies, which manage most of the wildlife in the U.S.
This user-play, user-pay funding system for wildlife conservation has been lauded and emulated around the world. It has been incredibly successful at restoring the populations of North American game animals, some of which were once hunted nearly to extinction.
Alternatively, fishing participation saw a 8.2 percent increase between 2011-2016 or total participation at 35.8 million (up from 33.1 million in 2011). During this same time period, total expenditures grew from $45 billion to $46.1 billion. While this is encouraging, the fishing industry is determined to grow their numbers more.
Here's a video overview of R3 for your viewing pleasure:
A good example of R3 being applied beyond is packaging it as lifestyle branding, as the fellas of Northwood Collective —the company behind "Project Upland"— are doing:
Applying this model of lifestyle branding has proven to work in a non-commercial environment, as well. For two years we applied our model assembling the Ruffed Grouse Society #HealthyForests campaign aimed at diving new memberships and taking a massive step to protect the future of young forest habitat. This hugely successful campaign was further proof that while all forms of hunting, angling and shooting sports have struggled with effective PR, there is no better time than right now to take advantage of the evolution of media.
Does R3 peak your interest? Consider learning more and getting involved. If you are serious about learning more about R3, consider attending their inaugural National Symposium in Lincoln, Nebraska this May. Register here.