Public support for hunting in America has reached an 18-year high, as revealed in a recent NSSF-commissioned survey, with 79 percent of the U.S. population showing approval for hunting. That’s the highest approval rating since 1995, according to data compiled by the independent research firm Responsive Management.
“Approval of hunting among Americans is fairly stable and bounces between 73 and 79 percent,” said Mark Damian Duda, Responsive Management executive director. “The reasons for this increase are still unclear, but it is probably related to the increase in hunting and shooting participation.”
The survey shows that public support of hunting has risen 5 percent since 2011, indicating a very agreeable climate for dealers to increase their hunting sales. More than half of those surveyed indicated strong approval of hunting, while only 12 percent registered disapproval of hunting. About 8 percent gave no opinion either way.
“Since 2006, hunting participation has increased by 9 percent while shooting participation has increased 18 percent since 2009,” Duda said. “Other studies we have conducted on public opinion on hunting show that the strongest correlation for approval of hunting is knowing a hunter — over and above demographic variables or anything else.”
This increase in hunting approval translates to more Americans taking up hunting and is reflected in their purchases. The latest Hunter Shooting Trends report released from Southwick Associates reveals that 52 percent of those surveyed received or gave a hunting or shooting item as a holiday gift in 2012, with 66 percent of those gifts used for hunting.
Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed purchased a hunting rifle from a local shop in January and February 2013. In addition, 53 percent purchased a traditional rifle, with 55 percent choosing a semiautomatic; .223 was the preferred caliber. Savage accounted for 11 percent of purchases, making it the most popular rifle brand.
In shotguns, 34 percent of those responding to the Southwick survey made purchases at a local shop for hunting in January and February, with 22 percent choosing the Remington brand. Forty-four percent preferred semiautomatic shotguns, and 74 percent chose 12-gauge models.
Of those who went hunting in the early months of 2013, 50 percent hunted whitetail deer and 9 percent hunted out of state.
“With the increased number of hunters in the field and sport shooters at the range, it is possible that this is being reflected in this uptick in support for hunting,” Duda said.
Based on the growing public approval for hunting in America, dealers can expect to see a continued upswing in new customers who want to hunt.
NSSF provides a lot of information on hunting on its website www.nssf.org/hunting.
Savage’s Program Offers Dealers Free Firearms
Davidson’s is promoting Savage Arms Stocking Dealer Programs, which runs through Nov. 30, 2013. Highlighted by great perks for participating dealers, the program has three levels: gold, silver and bronze, with something for big and small dealers alike.
Gold Stocking Dealers receive a free Savage Model 10 FCP in a .308 Win, valued at $1,250, when they purchase 17 centerfire rifles (maximum of five Axis rifles allowed) and eight rimfire rifles. Purchases must be within a 90-day period between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2013.
Silver Stocking Dealers receive a free Savage Hunter Max 1 (choice of .223, .22-250 or .243), valued at $945, when they purchase nine centerfire rifles (maximum of three Axis rifles allowed) and five rimfire rifles, also within a 90-day period between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2013.
Bronze Stocking Dealers receive a free Savage Mark II F in .22 LR, valued at $220, when they purchase four centerfire and three rimfire rifles within a 60-day period between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2013.
Dealers at these levels also benefit from a seminar for store personnel provided by Savage sales reps and receive a listing on the Savage Arms website, Savage customer service referrals, support materials and consumer catalogs.
Visit www.davidsonsinc.com, or call 1-800-367-4867.
By J.K. Autry
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