June 26, 2023

Sporting Goods Stores Help Sportsmen Fill Tags, Live Wells, and Agency Coffers

Article Contact: Bob Matthews,

Why It Matters: Sportsmen and women, as well as outdoor gear manufacturers and retailers, are responsible for funding state fish and wildlife management agencies through license sales and excise taxes on outdoor goods. Visiting a sporting goods store in preparation for your favorite season benefits not only hunters and anglers, but fish and game, as well.

  • In addition to local mom-and-pop shops, stores like Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, and Scheels provide sportsmen and women a familiar place to stock up on essentials.
  • Purchases of licenses and certain outdoor goods provide funding for state fish and wildlife agencies – often accounting for more than 80 percent, and in some cases even 100 percent, of an agency’s annual funding.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is proud to support the immense role that sportsmen and women, and their favorite gear manufacturers and retailers, play in funding the agencies that conserve America’s storied habitats, species, and outdoor heritage.

Sportsmen and women can confidently say that they support their pastimes like no other group in America. The “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding relies on revenue from hunting and fishing license sales, as well as excise taxes on outdoor equipment such as firearms, ammunition, fishing rods, bait and tackle, and motorboat fuel. State fish and wildlife management agencies then use the money generated by this system for habitat management, fish and wildlife research, hunter education, constructing shooting ranges or boat launches, and much more.

This makes sporting goods stores the center of the universe for supporting outdoor pursuits. The Midwest has a particularly special relationship with these stores, as Springfield, Missouri is home to the first Bass Pro Shops location; Sidney, Nebraska is home to the first Cabela’s store; and Scheels, which started as a hardware store in Minnesota but opened its first location dedicated to sporting goods in Grand Forks, North Dakota, now has locations throughout the Upper Midwest. Just stepping into one of these stores can turn any stern-faced hunter and angler into a kid in a candy shop; and can get kids excited to explore the great outdoors, as well.

Remember, the perfect response to any flak you might catch for buying yet another gun or filling a new tackle box with more of the latest and greatest lures will always be, “I’m supporting fish and wildlife management efforts in my state!” Each trip to a sporting goods store here in the Midwest is not only an opportunity to improve your own personal collection of hunting, fishing, trapping, or shooting gear, but these trips also serve as a contribution to the management of the fish and wildlife populations that inhabit the fields and waters you love, and the CSF will continue to support the leading role that sportsmen and women, America’s original conservationists, have so selflessly accepted.

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