At a time when the hunting and shooting sports community is unified in its focus to create new hunters, Families Afield, an alliance of several of the nation’s top hunting and industry groups, announced today in Las Vegas at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) that more than 2 million apprentice licenses have been sold as a result of the work of the partners. Families Afield was created in 2005 by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation to tear down the barriers that prevent people from attracting new hunters. The National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation joined the effort soon thereafter.
"More than 2 million individuals have bought apprentice licenses, a huge milestone. The National Wild Turkey Federation partnered with the Sportsmen’s Alliance early on to remove barriers and make sure we’re getting people in the out-of-doors and doing it safely. We’re very proud to be part of the announcement that we’ve exceeded 2 million apprentice hunters. We look forward to continuing to work to remove barriers in the future," said Becky Humphries, NWTF CEO.
The primary focus of the coalition has been the creation of apprentice licenses across the United States. The Families Afield partners compile participation numbers and other important data about the program each year beginning in 2006. In 2018, the partnership achieved its greatest milestone when the data revealed that 2,233,338 apprentice licenses had been sold.
Apprentice Licenses, now sold in 40 states as a result of Families Afield, allow a newcomer to try hunting under the supervision of an experienced mentor. This “try before you buy” approach has proven to be a successful recruiting tool for kids, women and girls, and people who live in urban and suburban areas; all highly sought after demographics by hunting and shooting sports organizations along with the fifty state fish and wildlife agencies. Most important, apprentice hunting has proven year after year to be incredibly safe, nearly 8 times safer than regular licensed hunting. Closely supervised hunting is safe, and an effective means of attracting newcomers.
Families Afield has been a great collaboration that continues to produce even better results, year after year. The program has consistently produced quantifiable data for hunting recruitment, the key ingredient in measuring the success of programs intended to attract new hunters. We have been thrilled to be a part of Families Afield because they know it produces new hunters of all ages in a safe environment. It has been successful because mentors are free to take newcomers on their favorite types of hunts which encourages mentoring, the essential element of successful recruitment. At the same time Families Afield works at nearly no cost to state wildlife agencies, who simply need to make the license available and then promote its existence to current hunters. The secret to the success of Families Afield is that apprentice licenses harness the enthusiasm of current hunters and empowers them to take people hunting, even on a moment’s notice. We’re proud of this milestone and look forward to many more successes.
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative – a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org.