Hunting License Sales Remain Strong and Other Industry News

Hunting license sales remain strong; 2022 Field Nationals champions; NASP tournament participation numbers; and NWTF leadership change.

Hunting License Sales Remain Strong and Other Industry News

Hunting License Sales Remain Strong

The 2022 National R3 Symposium wrapped up recently in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The 220 participants representing more than 100 different organizations with a vested interest in hunting and shooting sports were the first to lay eyes on data released from the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sport, documenting a slight decrease in hunting license sales in 2021 compared to 2020. That said, the sales numbers remain strong. 

“It’s important to note that a hunting license sale does not necessarily equal a participant, but we often use sales as an indicator of participation trends,” said the Council’s Director of Research and Partnerships Charles ‘Swanny’ Evans, as he opened the session on hunting participation at the Symposium. Evans went on to present the findings of the Hunting License Sales 2020-2021 report. This study was the follow-up to the COVID-19 and Hunting License Sales report the Council released last year, documenting a 4.9% increase in hunting license sales from 2019 to 2020. To continue monitoring the pandemic’s impact, the Council revisited this study in early 2022 to identify ongoing changes and emerging trends in hunters’ rates of license purchases. Working with Southwick Associates, the Council collected monthly resident and nonresident hunting license sales data from 46 state wildlife agencies to quantify and compare 2021 to 2020 sales. Among the 46 reporting states:

  • Overall, hunting license sales decreased by approximately 1.9% in 2021 compared to 2020.
  • Resident license sales were down 4.0%.
  • Nonresident license sales increased by 12.9%.

“While there was a decrease in resident hunting license purchases in 2021, the surge in nonresident license sales blunted the overall effect and sales were still higher than pre-pandemic 2019 levels,” Evans said before turning the discussion to data from another source, the License Sales Data Dashboard. The License Sales Data Dashboard project will transition to a real-time dashboard in the near future, providing timely information to the public and R3 practitioners. Southwick Associates recently updated it to its current form. While it only has data from 20 states, the overall trends demonstrated were similar to the Hunting License Sales 2020 – 2021 report. In addition to those trends, the dashboards provide a more in-depth view into several categories when looking at hunting license sale changes from 2020 to 2021:

  • New recruits (bought a license in 2021, but none of the previous five years) were down 9%.
  • Churn, which demonstrates turnover in hunting (bought a license in 2020, but not 2021), increased by 1%.
  • The only monitored age range to show an overall increase was the 35 – 44-year-old group.

When asked about these projects after the Symposium, Council Executive Director Dr. Steven Leath said, “We are pleased that engagement in hunting is still higher than it was a couple of years ago, and we look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners to increase the number of states providing data to the License Data Dashboard as we transition it from the current form to a real-time resource available to everyone.” The License Sales Data Dashboard, which does not yet have enough states to be truly representative of national trends, but provides valuable information regarding finer scale categories than the previously mentioned report, can be accessed on the National Shooting Sports Foundation website.


2022 Field Nationals Champions

The 2022 USA Archery Field Nationals recently concluded in Yankton, South Dakota, awarding national titles among stiff competition. The weekend’s events also featured the U.S. Team Trials for the 2022 World Archery Field Championships, which will be held at the same location later this fall, and the recurve and barebow team trials for the 2022 World Games, also hosted stateside in Birmingham, Alabama, this July.

Reigning recurve women’s national champion Molly Nugent, who just began field archery last year, took the win again this year despite recent recovery from major foot surgery.

“I’ve been practicing at least once a week with my dad,” Nugent said, “going out and hanging FITA field targets to learn unmarked, and I just felt really good about it the last couple months. Last year I learned a lot about what you have to do with the hiking, measuring, and it paid off.”

Nugent’s 628 topped the recurve women’s field over Clare Maness’ 575, and also very experienced field competitors Savannah Vanderwier and Heather Koehl, who each finished with 555. This bronze win for Vanderwier marks her first major podium finish in field archery with a recurve.

World Champion Brady Ellison pulled out another national title for the recurve men, topping the field with a 762, ahead of Matthew Nofel’s 705 and Jackson Mirich’s 704. This was Nofel’s first field event and a strong showing to make the podium among a tough field of competition.

The compound men’s field was also stacked with multiple world champions and tough field competitors. Jesse Broadwater, who won his first world field title in 2012, was excited to return to this style of competition after several years away.

“Yesterday was awesome,” Broadwater said. “We had a good course as far as angles go, and today’s was stretched out pretty good and had a little bit of wind in there. I’m just happy to shoot this style of field archery again; it’s my favorite style and hopefully I’ll do well in the Trials and make the world team. I’d love to represent the USA at the world championships again.”

Broadwater added for those who have not yet shot a World Archery field event: “People shouldn’t be intimidated by FITA field, everyone’s more than willing to help you out, get a ranging system down, learn the angles, the cuts; I really think it’s the most pure form of archery and if you haven’t done it before you’re really missing out. Come try it out!”

World Field Champion Dave Cousins finished the day just two points behind Broadwater’s 835 with an 833, and Dan Jasa took bronze with an 818. Also, World Field Champion Paige Pearce claimed another national title for the compound women, finishing with 826 ahead of Toja Ellison’s 816 and Heather Gore-Smith’s 779.

2022 Field Nationals Compound Men division podium (left to right): Dave Cousins (second place), Jesse Broadwater (first place) and Dan Jasa (third place).
2022 Field Nationals Compound Men division podium (left to right): Dave Cousins (second place), Jesse Broadwater (first place) and Dan Jasa (third place).

The barebow field was deep with talent and day one leader Robby Weissinger held onto his lead to finish first with a 626. Ryan Davis took silver with 620 and reigning target national champion Matt Yacca finished with 617 for bronze. Christina Lyons topped the barebow women’s podium with a 599 while world field silver medalist Fawn Girard was second with 587 and Caelyn Briley claimed bronze with 486.

In the youth events, the U21 barebow and compound women’s divisions were the largest and most contentious. It was Lille Aguilar, shooting up in age class, who claimed the compound U21 women’s title in her first field nationals with a strong 767 ahead of Rendyn Brooks’ and Gracelyn Chambers’ 754s. Maggie Brensinger and Laura Hughes battled it out for the U21 barebow women’s title, but Brensinger came away with the win 551 over 540 with Olivia Artz taking bronze at 459.

Brensinger said, “We shot the mountain course today and it was brutal; I came out on top after today, which I’m surprised at because Laura had me sweating. At my home range I sometimes shoot on flat ground, but we don’t have anything like what we faced here today. This is so much fun, it can be frustrating, but it’s fun.”

Notably, Hunter Longest and Ryan Booth both finished with 750 in a tight race for the compound U21 men’s title, with Longest taking the win on 6s. Mark Hodges and Tracey Francis were standouts in the barebow 50+ divisions, taking gold with significant margins.

Click here to view complete results from the competition.


NASP Tournament Participation Numbers

NASP in-person competition numbers returned to near pre-pandemic levels with 12,213 student archers from 32 states gathering at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Once inside the familiar tournament site, student archers competed in the largest bullseye and 3D archery tournament held since the pandemic cancelled almost all in-person NASP events. In the NASP Eastern National Bullseye Tournament, 11,303 archers from 32 states demonstrated their proficiency with the 80 cm round bullseye targets. Click here for final Eastern National Tournament bullseye results.

NASP will begin notifying randomly selected national participants that will receive one of the (120) $500 scholarships as a result of competing in one of the national NASP events. For a complete description of the NASP scholarship picture for 2022, click here.

The bullseye competition wasn’t the only tournament contested at this year’s Eastern Nationals. The International Bowhunting Organization’s NASP IBO 3D Challenge was nearly back to pre-pandemic numbers as well with 4,974 archers participating from 30 states. Archers competed on foam replicas of North America’s big game animals such as turkey, coyote, bear, pronghorn, whitetail and bighorn sheep. Eastern National NASPIBO 3D Challenge results can be found by clicking here.

NASP also experienced another first at the Kentucky Exposition Center with the first-ever JROTC Eastern National Tournament. Competition included 124 JROTC cadets from sixteen schools representing seven states. For JROTC Eastern National Tournament results, click here.

NASP thanks its medal level sponsors for their contributions to this year’s Eastern National Tournament. These dedicated sponsors make events like our national tournaments possible. Click here for more Information on this year’s NASP tournament sponsors.

Looking ahead, the NASP Open Championship Tournament will be held June 23-25, 2022, at the Kentucky Exposition Center.


NWTF Leadership Change

The National Wild Turkey Federation recently announced that Becky Humphries, its CEO since 2017, will retire in February 2023 as the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary. To succeed her, the NWTF Board of Directors has appointed Jason Burckhalter and Kurt Dyroff, two of the organization’s top staff executives, as co-CEOs, effective immediately. Humphries will serve with them until she steps down.

“Building on Becky’s accomplishments and to prepare the NWTF for the future, the Board decided, after careful consideration, to tap the unique experiences and energy of not just one but two of the organization’s top executives,” said Bryan Perry, president of the NWTF Board of Directors. “Kurt and Jason have established proven track records as effective, forward-thinking senior executives and strong collaborators in managing the organization’s key operations. We believe Jason and Kurt will make an effective team to lead the NWTF.”

Under the NWTF’s co-CEO model, Dyroff will lead the organization’s mission-related activities, including conservation, finance and accounting, and general business support (legal, human resources and land holdings). Burckhalter will oversee membership and fundraising-related duties, including field operations and development, marketing and communications, membership, information technology, and facility management. Humphries will continue as part of the NWTF leadership team, overseeing government affairs until her retirement when those duties will transition to Dyroff.

Burckhalter has been the NWTF’s chief information officer for the past three years and before that served as its vice president of finance and controller. Prior to joining the NWTF in 2013, he held various executive roles with for-profit entities, including as CIO/COO of a national multi-site operation. Burckhalter is a graduate of Lander University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance/economics. He received an MBA from Augusta University and an accounting degree from Auburn University.

Dyroff has been the NWTF’s chief business and finance officer for the past three years, and previously held positions as director of business development, acting chief of conservation, and as western director of conservation operations. Before joining the NWTF in 2014, he served in various conservation-focused executive capacities at Ducks Unlimited for nine years. Dyroff is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a minor in environmental engineering.

In a joint statement, Burckhalter and Dyroff outlined their priorities for the organization:

“We look forward to building upon the NWTF’s nearly 50 years of success. The future is bright and reminds us how the NWTF achieved it: our mission and people. The NWTF will increase focus on our membership and member experience and bolster research and habitat delivery in areas experiencing wild turkey population decline. Our mission, as ever, is to ensure robust wild turkey populations, while benefiting healthy forests, waterways, and communities, and championing the soul of the American hunting lifestyle. This requires a nimble organization, built on a solid financial foundation, capable of retaining and attracting the best and brightest minds.”


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