Quail whistled between shotgun blasts as shooters gathered at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) new Palmetto Shooting Complex for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) inaugural Southern Sporting Clays Classic.
Gathered to advance sportsmen’s policies and conservation efforts, South Carolina and Georgia state legislative sportsmen’s caucus members joined over 100 members of the sportsmen’s community from state and national organizations in shooting a full round of clays before retiring to an evening of barbecue over discussion of sportsmen’s policies affecting the southeastern region.
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation stands between our privileges as hunters, anglers and trappers and the loss of those privileges,” declared South Carolina State Representative Mike Pitts, speaking before the crowd. “Without the support of NGOs like the NWTF and other organizations that support us, we would not be able to carry out our work.”
“We are really proud to have the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation here at the Palmetto Shooting Complex,” said NWTF’s CEO Becky Humphries. “They are working to protect our hunting, fishing and shooting rights across the country through their efforts in D.C., and also by heading up the sportsmen’s caucuses at the national and state levels. Their work is absolutely crucial for the lifestyle we believe in.”
Hunting and fishing are vital components of South Carolina and Georgia’s economies, with almost two million sportsmen and women supporting 80,000 jobs across the two states. “Sportsmen and women spend $3.8 billion combined annually in South Carolina and Georgia, and are an indispensable part of the American System of Conservation Funding. During the 80th anniversary of the Pittman Robinson Act, it is uniquely fitting to host an event at this wonderful complex that was partly made possible through Pittman-Robinson funds through the South Carolina DNR,” said CSF’s Southeastern States Director Bee Frederick.
The NWTF, with a mission dedicated to conserving the wild turkey and protecting our hunting heritage, has been essential to the restoration of wild turkeys in North America since its founding in 1973. The Palmetto Shooting Complex, offers a variety of shooting facilities, including trap and skeet fields, rifle and pistol ranges and sporting clay courses. Open to the public, the Complex was formed through a partnership between the NWTF and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and is scheduled to be expanded to accommodate additional shooting, archery and outdoor amenities.
“The Palmetto Shooting Complex is an incredible facility that has few rivals, if any at all, and was the perfect place for our event,” Rep. Pitts added.
The South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the largest caucus in the South Carolina Legislature, was instrumental in the planning and success of the event. The Caucus is currently chaired by Representative Russell Ott with Representative Alan Clemmons serving as the Vice-Chair in the House. Senators Chip Campsen and Thomas McElveen lead the Senate side. Previous Chairs Representative Brian White and Representative Mike Pitts serve on the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council as Secretary and Past President respectively.
The Southern Sporting Clays Classic was supported by a group of Title Sponsors including National Wild Turkey Federation, American Suppressor Association, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Ducks Unlimited, and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association of South Carolina.
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?