How do we get more people hunting & shooting? Just Ask.
The 8th Annual Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic is in the books. This was the first time I had personally attended the event. I had heard what a great time this outing was, and the reports were absolutely correct.
The town of Colby, Kansas, was incredibly welcoming to all the hunters who had gathered. The farmers who offered up their private lands for us to hunt explained that no one else had hunted on them the first two weeks of the season, as they wanted to ensure there’d be plenty of wild birds.
The local Ford dealership hosted an opening reception for us to meet, greet and enjoy the mutal fellowship as we got to know the other hunters, guides and the local citizens who helped with the event.
Friday we enjoyed some of the sights of Colby, including the largest barn in Kansas, before we spent the afternoon participating in the Governor’s Sporting Clays Tournament. We laughed often as the wind would carry clay pigeons in what we considered to be the wrong direction, but also because we were enjoying the company and sharing our passion for the shooting sports and the outdoors.
We met our guide after shooting clays and made a plan for the following morning. During dinner we had a chance to meet other hunters and check out silent and live auction items, whose proceeds would go to benefit the future of bird hunting in Kansas.
Saturday morning’s hunt would prove a bit challenging. The temperature was just below freezing, but with a biting wind moving at 18 miles per hour, it was downright cold. However, as we walked, the dogs romped and the birds were harvested, the enjoyment of the day was felt by all in our group. The six hunters in our group took 17 birds before the day was done, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
As I mentioned, this was the 8th Annual Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic. This event was a little different than the previous seven in that of the 70 hunters this year, 11 were female. Why is this a big deal? It shouldn’tt be, but it is.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation recruited an all-female team for the event. The team consisted of ladies from different backgrounds, and varied aspects of the shooting industry: Dianna Muller, 3-Gun competitor and Founder of the DC Project; Sharon Cundiff, of Range Allies, a guide and rifle instructor; Yim Szeto, Marketing Coordinator of Blaser USA; and myself, the Regional Member Services Manager for NSSF. Along the way, we also collected Julie McQueen, Content Director at CarbonTV, and Cheyenne Dalton, an up and coming teenage 3-Gun shooter.
Aside from that little bit of background of information, our hunt was no different than the hunt of the 59 male hunters who also participated. We carried our own guns and ammunition, we walked the fields, we cut-up with our guides and we harvested birds as all hunters do.
Historically, when it is time to go hunting, men would gather up along with the male children and off to the field they’d go, leaving the women and girls home. Those days are gone — but not far gone. I engaged in conversations with several people on the hunt, and they asked why there weren’t more women or people of color hunting and attending the event. My question to them: “Did you invite any women or people of color to the event?”
That is what we as sport shooters and hunters need to do — invite people to go out with us, invite them to the range, invite them to shooting events. If we extend invitations to new shooters, new hunters and those who do not look like us, we will grow the number of participants and increase the number of dollars spent on excise taxes for conservation. That will be a big win for all concerned.
So, do you want to go hunting or to the range with me? It really is that simple.
About the Author
Tisma Juett is an NSSF Regional Member Services Manager for the Northeast region of the U.S. Juett’s enthusiastic passion and desire to grow the shooting sports is her driving force behind getting others involved and serving NSSF Member businesses at the highest level. Tisma is an NRA-certified pistol instructor who enjoys sporting clays, bass fishing, motorcycles and baseball.