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NEWTOWN, Conn.â€• Forty million Americans today are active in shooting sports and hunting. During their lifetimes, the total retail value of their recreational activities will top $4 trillion, projects the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a nonprofit trade association for the firearm industry.
The giant figure, based in NSSF-commissioned research on average lifetime spending by hunters and shooters, illustrates the economic incentive behind efforts to recruit and retain participants.
“Every hunter and sport shooter is a tremendous asset to the firearm industry, but also to the travel industry, conservation agencies, rural economies, even the agriculture industry, since fee-hunting now provides critical revenue for farmers and ranchers,” said Doug Painter, president of NSSF.
NSSF’s study looked at hunters and shooters’ expenditures from age 16 to 75.
Researchers found the average lifetime outlay for firearms, ammunition and other gear totals $20,219 per person. When purchases for licenses and lodging, food and fuel, magazines and meat processing, dues and contributions, and other associated items are added, the average lifetime grand total rises to $109,568 per person.
“Multiply $109,568 by 20 million hunters and 20 million shooters, and the cumulative retail valueâ€•assuming we maintain those participation levelsâ€•could actually reach $4.3 trillion,” said Painter.
Founded in 1961, NSSF administers a variety of programs to keep hunters and shooters safe, active and more numerous. Its major recruitment and retention programs include:
>> Families Afieldâ€•Encourages removing legal barriers to youth hunting.
>> First Shotsâ€•Offers “Handguns 101” courses for new and novice shooters.
>> STEP OUTSIDEâ€•Reminds veteran hunters and shooters to invite newcomers.
>> Scholastic Clay Target Programâ€•National shotgun sports league for students.
>> Hunting Heritage Partnershipâ€•Grants funds to state agencies working to improve hunting opportunities, awareness and access.
>> Hunt and Shoot.orgâ€•An online portal of information, databases and directories of places to enjoy hunting and shooting.
At $4.3 trillion, the total lifetime retail value of hunters and target shooters would be equivalent to nearly 25 percent of the United States’ 2005 gross national product, and greater than the entire gross national products of 222 other countries.
Painter reiterated that hunters and shooters, through license fees and federal excise taxes on firearms and ammunition, are the primary financiers of conservation in America.