National R3 Symposium Aims to Bolster Hunter Numbers

National R3 Symposium Aims to Bolster Hunter Numbers

In its efforts to reverse the decline of hunter numbers, NRA’s Hunters’ Leadership Forum has posted several articles in recent months on the nationwide R3 Program (Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation), its activities, growth success and the “National Hunting and Shooting Sports Action Plan.”

In January, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (CAHSS), its partners and the R3 community announced the National R3 Symposium to be held May 21-23, 2018, in Lincoln, Neb., at the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel.

The National R3 Symposium is the first nationwide event solely focused on resources and partnerships needed to secure the future of hunting, angling, target shooting and boating. This meeting is the premier venue for the outdoor community to advance the field of outdoor recreation recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) in the United States. “The Symposium will provide an unparalleled opportunity for agencies, industries and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to share, learn and develop the limitless opportunities [the] community now has to advance and accelerate the current state of R3 effort and impact,” said CAHSS President and CEO, John Frampton, noted conservationist and winner of the 2017 NRA Distinguished Hunters Leadership Award.

Organizers say anyone with a “vested interest in increasing participation in outdoor recreation”—including CEOs, directors, presidents, R3 coordinators, marketing, communication and IT professionals and any others who are interested or actively working on R3 efforts for their organizations—will benefit from attending.

The NRA is one of those organization with an undeniably vested interested. Peter Churchbourne, head of the NRA Hunter Services Division, pointed out that the NRA has “…always been a proponent of providing services and programs that mirror the R3 movement. In fact, it’s in our 1871 foundational bylaws that the NRA promote hunter safety and defend the shooting sports.”

Churchbourne further observed that the NRA recognizes the need for an industry-wide plan to unify state agencies’ and NGOs’ efforts to recruit new hunters, retain current hunters and reactivate those who have dropped out of hunting. “Among other programs, one of our newest efforts is creating the most encompassing, modern, fun—and free—online hunter education course in the world. This will reduce barriers to hunting by making it free of charge and, obviously, more readily available to new hunters to get their required education, eliminating one of the most frequently recognized ‘roadblocks’ to recruiting new hunters.”

The R3 Symposium will include a plenary session with well-known and influential speakers from industry, agency and outdoor media and will offer reflections of recent advancements in R3 from various organizations spanning the conservation community. Presentations will also focus on R3 and data, R3 and marketing and discussions on opportunities to engage sportsmen in strategic R3 efforts, such as mentoring and program evaluation. At the conclusion of the event, the CAHSS and its partners expect the outdoor community will have an increased understanding of the current state of R3 efforts, challenges and partnerships. In addition, it will showcase opportunities available to effectively advance R3 at the national level.

Following is the list of key agenda topics and special sessions.

 Plenary Session: R3 is changing the way in which organizations view conservation. Now is the time for our community to come together to share, learn and develop the opportunities we have to accelerate the current state and impact of R3 efforts. During this session, speakers will convey the importance of R3 and offer expert opinions on how the collective outdoor community can work together to ensure hunting, angling, boating and target shooting have a strong future. The plenary will conclude with a roundtable of high-ranking industry leaders to discuss and answer questions about R3.
• The Significance of R3 in Organizational Change: The session includes a comprehensive presentation on how conservation community leaders have used R3 to advance their organizations.
• Marketing and R3: Marketing is an integral part of R3 efforts, which can increase its effectiveness and advance R3 in ways not yet explored. This presentation will highlight the power marketing can provide.
• Mobilizing Sportsmen in R3: This session will offer ideas to engage sportsmen and other outdoor recreation participants as key elements in R3 efforts. Topics will include mentoring, cultural shifts and much more.
• Impact through Strategic Partnerships: The future of R3 depends on the collective effort of the conservation community. Where does your organization fit in the big picture? A presenter will address concepts such as maximizing partner value and building synergies throughout the conservation community followed by an audience discussion. The results of this discussion will be used to inform those involved in future R3 efforts.

The CAHSS invites everyone who wants to see a stronger future for America’s traditional outdoor pastimes to attend and actively participate in the Symposium, thereby helping to “chart the path forward for the collective benefit of wildlife conservation and the American outdoor heritage.” For more information on registration or sponsorship, or to view the full R3 Symposium agenda, visit or contact the Registration Office at 802-865-5202; [email protected].

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About the Author
Chris Chaffin has been an outdoor communicator, educator and partnership manager for more than 40 years. He has worked on the national scene representing several prominent components of the outdoor community promoting hunting, fishing, the shooting sports and conservation. He served two terms as Treasurer for the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), eventually taking on roles as vice-president, President and Chairman of the Board.

In 2007, he launched Chaffin Communications, Inc., a communications consulting company focusing on the outdoors. In 2012, with support from the Outdoor Adventure Dream Giveaway, Chaffin founded and currently manages the Outdoor Adventure Conservation Fund, a Florida non-profit established to encourage and facilitate more people participating in traditional outdoor activities. For more information, click here.