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Changing Face of Shooters

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Newcomers—defined as those who have taken up target shooting in the last five years—are trending younger and female; also, they are city and suburban dwellers. In these ways, they are quite different from established participants and, as a result, are changing the face of target shooters in America. This influx of newcomers also underscores that the traditional pastimes of handgun, rifle and shotgun target shooting continue to have a broad appeal to new generations of Americans.

So what does this new face look like? Let’s look at some comparative data. For established shooters (more than 5 years of experience) the average age is 43. The average age for the newcomer (less than 5 years) is 33. And as we have reported in the past, women are one of the fastest growing groups. Among established shooters twenty-two percent are women. For the newcomer that number jumps to 37 percent.

There was a time when most people who participated in shooting sports lived in rural communities and hunted along with their target shooting. That number is shifting. About 34% of established shooters live in urban or suburban areas. That number increases to forty-seven percent for the young newcomer. Of established shooters, 56% hunted during the survey year 2012. Dramatically, only 29% of newcomers hunted during the same year.

What that figure tells me is there are opportunities for us as individual hunters to invite a target shooting friend to the field with us. Buy them the new NC Apprentice permit and take them squirrel, rabbit, grouse, or dove hunting! If they enjoy shooting there’s a good chance they will enjoy the fair chase of hunting. In fact there is a growing movement among 20-30 year olds to eat healthier by growing organic vegetables. What better way to supplement those vegetables than fresh, organic meat they harvested themselves.

The widest difference between the established and newcomer is when they got started shooting. Not surprisingly, most established shooters started at an early age. Only 19% got started after the age of 18. Conversely, among newcomers, a whopping 77% didn’t start shooting until after the age of 18. If you are of the established group, welcome the newcomers to the sport. Answer their questions, provide help when asked. And by all means, invite them to go hunting. They are the future of both shooting and hunting.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission implemented delayed-harvest regulations on 33 trout waters in 18 western North Carolina counties on Oct. 1. Before Oct. 1, hatchery-supported regulations applied to these waters. Under delayed-harvest regulations, no trout can be harvested or possessed from these waters between Oct. 1 and one half-hour after sunset on June 5, 2015. No natural bait is allowed, and anglers can fish only with single-hook, artificial lures. An artificial lure is defined as a fishing lure that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell.

The Commission stocks delayed-harvest trout waters from fall through spring with high densities of trout to increase anglers’ chances of catching fish. Delayed-harvest trout waters, posted with diamond-shaped, black-and-white signs, are popular fishing destinations for anglers who enjoy catch-and-release trout fishing. For a complete list of delayed-harvest trout waters, stocking dates, information on delayed-harvest regulations and trout fishing maps, visit the Commission’s trout fishing page on their website.

We’ve had our first hunting accident in the mountains. An archery hunter in Transylvania County accidently shot his friend while out deer hunting. The WRC is reminding hunters of their “Home from the Hunt” campaign for archery hunters. Some of the basic principles that apply to all hunting are the same. Most importantly always identify your target as game before raising your bow or crossbow. For crossbows, don’t cock them until you are in a fixed hunting position. We’ve still got a lot of hunting season ahead. Let’s be safe.

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