By Jack McCormick, President, SCI Northern New Mexico Chapter and Herb Atkinson, Region 10 Representative
Like other wildlife agencies across the country, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is concerned about the numbers of new hunters and shooters being recruited to those activities. One study showed that nationally only 67 young hunters and shooters are replacing every 100 hunters and shooters who stop being active.
The NM Game Department’s shooting program is one response to help reverse that trend.
This year, department officer, Mark Gruber, took the job as the full time Shooting Program Coordinator. Mark is an avid hunter and shotgun shooter, and has previously been active in the program.
In the early stages of the program, the Department concentrated on training youth shotgun coaches, providing ammunition to the shooting teams, and sponsoring an annual youth fun shoot. Now that the program has a full time manager, the agency wants to recruit more youth shooters by conducting several “First Shot” events. “First Shot” is a program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation designed to introduce as many interested youth as possible to the shooting sports.
Always in a need for funding, the Department approached Jack McCormick, President of the Northern New Mexico Chapter of SCI, about the possibility of financial help for the program. The plan is to assemble an enclosed trailer that can be taken all over the State of New Mexico to conduct “First Shot” events. The Game and Fish Department is going to purchase the trailer and the Northern New Mexico Chapter is donating the money to purchase a very colorful wrap for the trailer. In addition, the chapter is purchasing ten shotguns and a ProMatic clay target trap. Ron Peterson Firearms of Albuquerque has also generously donated $1000.00 to the program.
The total chapter financial contribution to the program is $6,790.00!
Other state Game Departments have similar shooting trailers and find them a great way to attract new shooters. The NM Game Department has had great success using seven archery trailers across the state. The trailers have the same bows, arrows and targets used in the National Archery in the Schools Program. Summer camps and schools that have trained archery instructors, but no equipment, use the trailers until they are able to purchase the supplies and equipment they need.
With the help of Pittman-Robertson Act funds, the department also has plans to help communities build shooting ranges in areas that currently do not have formal places for shooters to sight in their rifles or practice their wing-shooting.
Working with the two Safari Club Chapters in New Mexico, the Department will be investigating new avenues to attract more shooters and hunters to the sport. We cannot think of a better goal than introducing new shooters to the sport that we all love!