On May 22, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 226 into law, making Colorado the 38th state to authorize the adoption of an apprentice hunting program based on the Families Afield™ model.
When fully implemented, Senate Bill 226 will allow individuals, age 10 and up, to hunt under the supervision of an adult mentor prior to completing a hunter education course. Central to the Families Afield model, apprentice programs seek to minimize the barriers that prevent prospective hunters from trying out the sport before they commit to spending a significant amount of their time in a hunter education course.
“For many Coloradans, hunting is a time-honored autumn ritual. However, participation in the hunting sports has declined over the last four decades. SB15-226 is aimed at reversing that trend by attracting new outdoor enthusiasm into the hunting sports by offering ease of access to first time hunters,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “Sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts also play an important role in the state’s economy, generating an estimated economic impact of $5 billion annually while supporting an estimated 50,000 jobs. This bill is also an important step toward our broader goal of engaging our next generation with Colorado’s remarkable outdoor opportunities and natural resources.”
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds Governor Hickenlooper for his role in establishing a Families Afield-style apprentice hunting program in Colorado. In a state with a longstanding and rich hunting heritage, it’s critically important that we welcome as many newcomers as possible to the outdoors,” said CSF Western States Director Andy Treharne. “Signing Senate Bill 226 moves us closer to achieving this goal.”
Launched in 2004, Families Afield is a joint legislative effort led by CSF, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the National Rifle Association. Since its inception, Families Afield has allowed nearly 1.5 million hunters to participate in the sport through apprentice hunting programs nationwide.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?