hunting

Southeast: States Provide Hunter Education Course Options and Ease Restrictions during COVID-19 Pandemic

As the nation continues to adjust to social distancing requirements, some state fish and wildlife agencies are providing alternatives to hunter education course requirements while other states are easing access restrictions for anglers that were imposed due to COVID-19.

These waivers and revisions allow sportsmen and women to participate in hunting and fishing activities as long as the necessary social distancing requirements are maintained. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and conservation partners are promoting the #ResponsibleRecreation social media campaign that encourages people to hunt and fish while adhering to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. In a related effort, CSF and other members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners sent a letter to governors to encourage them to maintain open access for hunters and anglers.

Kentucky

The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources altered the range day requirement for their internet-based hunter’s education course. In response to the COVID-related restrictions, a “virtual range day” has been instituted for those wanting to complete the hunter education course prior to May 15. A few different vendors offer an online hunter education course, including one that offers the course for free. Interested individuals can access the courses and the virtual range day here.

North Carolina

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) waived the field day component for their hunter education course for individuals who want to purchase their hunting license during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WRC offers three online hunter education courses, ranging from $13.00 to $29.00, as an alternative to the traditional classroom course. Upon successful completion, the hunter can print the temporary hunter education card to purchase their license. Those interested in this convenient alternative can access the online course offerings here.

Mississippi

In an effort to ease restrictions for anglers in Mississippi, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Tate Reeves issued Executive Order 1473, which allows the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) to reopen state lakes and state park lakes for fishing and boating on April 20. The MDWFP announced that bank fishing will also be permitted on these lakes as long as social distancing requirements are observed.

South Carolina

In similar fashion, Governor Henry McMaster granted authority to local governments or managing authorities to reopen public boat landings and ramps for launching and retrieving boats on April 17. Executive Order 2020-25 also clarified that while public access may be reopened for lakes, the rafting or beaching of boats is still prohibited for the duration of the State of Emergency.

With turkey seasons and fishing seasons underway across the South, CSF commends these efforts to ease restrictions for hunters and anglers during this time.

NRA Urges Governors to Keep Public Lands Open

The National Rifle Association, along with other pro-hunting organizations, sent a letter to governors of all 50 states on Friday urging them to keep public lands open for hunting and fishing during the COVID-19 pandemic.​

“Now, perhaps more than ever, families need access to hunting and fishing grounds so they can put food on the table for their families,” said Jason Oumet, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “There is no reason why people should be prohibited from spending time alone in America’s wide-open spaces. At its core, hunting is the original social distancing.”

The NRA teamed with the Dallas Safari Club, Hunter Nation and Safari Club International in the effort. The letter outlines the reasons why keeping public lands is crucial during this period while strongly supporting efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing.

In part, the letter reads:

“Closing these areas significantly limits the ability of our nation’s millions of sportsmen and women who take to our woods, waters, and wild lands every year to pursue their passion for the outdoors — an activity that is, at its core, America’s most traditional form of “social distancing.” Further, given the economic effects of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to allow hunters and anglers access to healthy and inexpensive sources of food to support their families.”

The letter was sent to governors of all 50 states Friday morning.

NSSF Celebrates President Trump Signing ‘Range Bill’

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, celebrates President Donald Trump’s signing of H.R. 1222, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, at The White House. The President signed the NSSF-priority bill May 10, just two weeks after the bill was passed by Congress.

We deeply appreciate President Trump’s swift enactment of this legislation that will give state fish and game agencies greater flexibility to build new recreational shooting ranges and expand and improve existing ranges,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “This administration understands the value and investment the firearms and ammunition industry makes to safe recreational shooting and to sustained conservation to benefit wildlife and habitat restoration across the United States. Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight in rifles and pattern shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses and for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport.

The “Range Bill” has been a sustained-effort priority for NSSF and is a crucial step forward in promoting, protecting and preserving hunting and the shooting sports. In the course of more than a decade, versions of the bipartisan legislation were introduced as 29 different numbered bills and 15 separate legislative packages, starting with the 110th Congress. While it had broad support from both Republicans and Democrats in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, previous attempts to pass the legislation were derailed for reasons unrelated to the actual legislation.

The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, also known as the “Range Bill,” allows states to use their Pittman-Robertson Fund allocations to begin construction of new ranges, or improve existing state-run public recreational shooting ranges. Prior to this law’s enactment, states were required to put up 25 percent of the cost of range construction projects to access the matching 75 percent of Pittman-Robertson funds. Now, states can access those funds with a 10 percent match and will have five fiscal years to acquire land for range construction or expansion projects.

Pittman-Robertson funds are derived from an excise tax paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers. Since 1937, the fund has generated more than $12.5 billion funding wildlife conservation and safety education programs in all 50 states. NSSF estimates more than 80 percent of Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions are generated by sales attributed to recreational shooting. This means today’s recreational target shooter is an overwhelming contributor to conservation through excise tax support.

A recurring concern of recreational shooters, and those considering entering the sport, is proximity and access to a safe range. This new law would make it easier for states to enable recreational target shooters to enter the sport, which in turn would generate continued contributions to Pittman-Robertson funds and the conservation programs which it supports.

NSSF is especially grateful to U.S. Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), as well as U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Boozman, (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). All are original co-sponsors on both the House and Senate versions of the legislation.

NSSF Program Hunting Works for America Expands Again

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms industry, is proud to announce that the Hunting Works For America footprint has grown to include Maryland. Hunting Works For Maryland joins 18 other states, including most recently Ohio, as the 19th state to be included in the award-winning Hunting Works For America program.

Hunting Works For America, through its state chapters, is an initiative that seeks to bring a broad range of stakeholders together in order to educate the public and elected officials about the importance of hunting. Shooting sports organizations, conservation groups, businesses, and other non-traditional hunting entities such as chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and other trade associations, have come together to form Hunting Works For Maryland and share their interest in the economic impact of hunting.

The newly formed Hunting Works For Maryland partnership has more than 65 partner organizations and will be adding dozens more in the weeks and months to come.

“A strong appreciation for the outdoors and outdoor sports is evident in the money spent by the 88,000 people who hunt in Maryland every year,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for NSSF. “Hunters contribute $32 million in state and local taxes each year, thanks to their considerable spending on their favorite pastime. The average hunter in Maryland spends $3,000 a year, which translates into $128 million in salaries and wages and an economic ripple effect of $401 million.”

Taxes, fees and surcharges that hunters pay when they purchase licenses, tags and equipment fund Maryland’s conservation efforts, which benefit game and non-game species, as well as anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

Hunting Works For Maryland launched today with a press conference across the street from the State House in the Annapolis Visitors Center. It is co-chaired by Deb Carter, Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds; Ruth Toomey, Executive Director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition; Senator John Astle representing District 30; and Delores Jones state, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Chestertown.

Hunting Works For America launched in 2010 with just three states: Arizona, Minnesota and North Dakota. Since then the program has grown, adding chapters in Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alabama, South Dakota, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Utah. All totaled, the Hunting Works For America program now represents more than 1,500 businesses, organizations and associations representing tens of thousands of stakeholders.

Becoming a member of Hunting Works for Maryland is absolutely free of charge. Visit www.HuntingWorksforMD.com to learn more about becoming a partner and the program, including leadership, members, social media opportunities and local hunting seasons.

NSSF Expands Hunting Works for America

Award-winning program adds newest chapter in Ohio

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms industry, is proud to announce that the Hunting Works For America footprint has grown once again. A new chapter was launched in Columbus, Ohio, today. Hunting Works For Ohio joins 17 other states in the award-winning program, which brings a coalition of partners together to advocate for hunting and the shooting sports.

Hunting Works For America has consistently brought diverse stakeholders to the table when it comes to outdoors issues in all the 17 states it has launched to date. The state organizations are frequently made up of groups that people do not always consider when thinking of hunting, such as chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and trade associations. Through a shared interest in the economic impact of hunting, these groups, along with sportsmen and conservation groups, work together to educate the public and elected officials on the importance of hunting to state and local economies.

“Hunting in Ohio is a powerful economic engine that supports jobs as well as conservation,” said Chris Dolnack, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for NSSF. “Hunters spend $850 million a year in Ohio, about $320 million on trip-related expenses and $274 million on equipment.”

Taxes, fees and surcharges paid by hunters when they purchase licenses, tags and equipment fund Ohio’s conservation efforts, benefiting game and non-game species as well as anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

Hunting Works For Ohio launched today with a press conference in the Statehouse, and was attended by the program’s co-chairs, Mike Goschinski and Ron Schuller, Fin Feather Fur Outfitters; Tom Vorisek, Vorisek Financial Corporation; Beth Ellis, Cherrybend Pheasant Farm; Melinda Huntley, Ohio Travel Association; and Andy Good, Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce. In addition to these co-chairs, the newly formed Hunting Works For Ohio partnership has nearly 50 partner organizations and will be adding dozens more in the weeks and months to come.

“We’re excited to have NSSF bring Hunting Works For America to Ohio,” said Ron Schuller, President of Fin Feather Fur Outfitters and Hunting Works For Ohio co-chair. “Whether at a hotel, resort, grocery store, gas station, restaurant or countless other businesses, you’ll find employees working who are being supported by the hunting and shooting economy. This hunter-led spending translates to $490 million in salaries and wages and over 20,000 jobs for Ohioans.”

Hunting Works For America initially launched in 2010 with Hunting Works For Arizona, Hunting Works For Minnesota and Hunting Works For North Dakota. These states have since been joined by chapters in Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, Alabama, Maine, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and New York. All totaled, the Hunting Works For America program now represents more than 2,000 businesses, organizations and associations representing tens of thousands of stakeholders.

Becoming a member of Hunting Works For Ohio is free of charge, so please visit www.HuntingWorksforOH.com to learn more about how to become a partner and about the program, including leadership, members, social media opportunities and local hunting seasons.

Gear Up for SHOT Show 2017 with GunLink

shotshow-logoThe National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) annual Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) is just around the corner and, as usual, the GunLink team will be there to cover it all.  From the opening shots of the pre-show Industry Day at the Range through the last booth of the show floor, be sure to follow our coverage on our family of websites and social media outlets.

Join the discussion on the GunLink Forums in the 2017 Industry Day at the Range thread and in the 2017 SHOT Show thread.  For more in-depth coverage, reviews and more, stay right here on the GunLink Blog.  If instant gratification and up-to-the-second updates, photos, and reports from the range (as if there was cell service out in the desert) and SHOT Show floor is what you are looking for, find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  Don’t forget that you can use all of these avenues to connect with us to let us know what type of shooting and firearms news you want to see covered from the show.    Continue reading

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