Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States, Assistant Manager
Why It Matters: The outdoor sporting community is the unrivaled financial backbone of conservation efforts of both game and non-game species across the United States. By hosting educational events with hands-on activities, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and our outdoor sporting conservation partners hope to be able to dispel misinformation and provided attendees with the knowledge and personal experience to make informed decisions moving forward.
For over 80 years, the outdoor sporting community has played a crucial role in funding conservation efforts in the United States through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). The American System is a “user-pays, public-benefits” structure, unique to the rest of the world, in which those that consumptively use public resources pay for the privilege, and in some cases the right, to do so. This funding System has allowed the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to become recognized as the most successful conservation framework in history.
The Wildlife Restoration Act, often referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Act, was supported by the firearm industry and approved by Congress in 1937. The Pittman-Robertson Act levied a federal tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment at a rate of 10% for handguns and 11% for long guns, ammunition, and archery equipment. The funds are collected from the manufacturer quarterly and distributed to the states on an annual basis.
The funds benefit both hunters and non-hunters alike, supporting wildlife conservation projects, management of public hunting lands and wetlands, as well as game and non-game species. Since the inception of the Pittman-Robertson Act, firearm and ammunition manufacturers have contributed more than $14.7 billion to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. In 2021 alone, the firearm and ammunition industry brought in more than $1.1 billion for conservation.
Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation hosted Front Range Field Day at Colorado Clays Shooting Park where attendees were given hands-on opportunities to learn about firearm suppressors, archery, and trap shooting. Colorado Clays Shooting Park was recently purchased by Colorado Parks and Wildlife with grant funds awarded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through its Office of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs (90%) along with Great Outdoors Colorado and the Colorado Lottery (10%). Front Range Field Day provided attendees from Colorado, Arizona, Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico, Montana, Alaska, and more with an excellent example of the American System of Conservation Funding at work within 40 minutes of downtown Denver.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation would like to thank the event sponsors, American Suppressor Association, Boone and Crockett Club, Colorado Bowhunters Association, Colorado Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, Ducks Unlimited, Muley Fanatics Foundation, Silencer Central, and Reynolds for their support of this event. Lastly, we would like to give a special thank Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the staff at Colorado Clays Shooting Park for their immense help with the event. Front Range Field Day was a wonderful example of the unity that exists within the outdoor sporting community, our collective desire to educate people on our role in conservation, and our hope to recruit new members to the outdoor sporting and conservation community.
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?