by Phil Phillips - Friday, March 13, 2020
This week delivered another unfair blow to hunters, who continue to be blamed for the actions of armed, violent felons. On Tuesday, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced plans to pull its hunting departments from 440 more stores, one year after it shut down firearm sales in 125 of its 700 locations following a mass shooting in Florida. While the Washington Examiner and other media outlets said the list of affected stores was not yet released, hunters can expect hunting gear to disappear from shelves sometime in fiscal year 2020.
The irony? This is happening despite that statistics show hunting is one of the safest sports in America. In the article “Hunting is Safer than Golf, Hiking…” last February, NRAHLF.org reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the injury rate for hunters is well below almost every other sport in America, including sports considered to be very safe. “For example, if your daughter is in cheerleading, she’s about seven times more likely to get hurt than if she were hunting. What about ‘America’s favorite pastime?’ Sorry, baseball is five times more dangerous than hunting. Even tennis is about twice as dangerous as hunting.”
For more stats, that article referenced American Sports Data, Inc., which shared, “People who play basketball have a 13.8 percent chance of injury, joggers have an 8.2 percent chance, golfers have a 1.4 percent chance of injury and hunters have a 1 percent chance of getting hurt.” It also explained that the number of hunting injuries, especially to those 18 years of age and younger, is so minuscule that there actually are not many statistics to use for comparisons.
Why is hunting so safe? The answer is clear: Hunter-backed groups like the NRA are on the front lines, not just defending hunting through legislative and political action, but by offering a slew of hunter safety and education programs. From launching America’s first-ever hunter safety course in 1949 and America’s most comprehensive and free online hunter education course in 2017 to offering programs like the NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge and unveiling a brand new online Experienced Hunter Education course just this week, the NRA is busy. And American hunters benefit—NRA members and non-members alike. (For more information on any of the NRA’s programs and services for hunters, email NRA Hunter Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
For more irony, Dick's is slamming hunters at a time when groups from the NRA to the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports to the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are pressing harder than ever to build the R3 movement to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters. All while state game agencies scramble to address the national drop in hunter numbers. Considering hunters’ dollars fund wildlife conservation, we need more hunters, not fewer.
It is as if law-abiding gun owners and hunters take one step forward, thanks in part to NRA hunter safety programs, and then take two steps back when the other side turns around and blames us for the acts of armed violent felons. Criminals, by definition, do not follow laws. You’d think that truth could factor in and that hunters—and the NRA—could receive credit where it is due for once.
The Washington Examiner article included a comment from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the national trade association for the firearms industry, which expelled Dick's from its membership in 2018 following its decision to halt firearms sales. As the NRA has said, the NSSF noted it is unfortunate that America’s law-abiding gun owners, hunters and shooters are blamed for the actions of criminals.
The NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum website covers news relevant to hunters on the local, national and international fronts. We track how hunters' dollars are spent and we celebrate our long and rich hunting tradition, exposing those who seek to destroy it. Follow NRAHLF.org on Twitter @HuntersLead.
About the Author
NRA Life member, award-winning outdoor TV host and recreational real estate associate broker Phil Phillips of Hayden Outdoors has hunted five continents, taking more than 200 big-game animals and nearly 60 species worldwide. Prior to hosting hunting programs, he started Colorado's first Ranching for Wildlife Program for antelope, which he ran for 15 years. Working alongside professional land managers to restore and protect habitat, Phil went on to guide clients to 500-plus big-game animals that have qualified for the record book. In 1992 Safari Club International honored him as the North American Bowhunting Outfitter of the Year. Email Phil at email@example.com.
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