These people have never tried hunting or shooting because they have no interest in it. A few of these folks may be opposed to hunting or gun ownership, but most of them are indifferent. They feel about hunting and shooting the way that I feel about golf: I know it exists, but I could care less.

In developing awareness and interest to people who have no desire to be involved, our primary goal should be to develop respect. We need to give the general public a reason to entrust us as subject-matter experts and destroy the “dumb fat bubba” stereotype. Every well-organized sport has their champions. The best organizations promote and advance these champions relentlessly. I believe this is why the pro-gun lobby hasn’t been able to vanquish the anti-gun forces, despite our overwhelming numbers. The progun side has failed to advance “heroes” that the public can look up to. Our focus in working with the uninterested should be to demonstrate that hunting and shooting is a safe, honorable, and worthy pursuit. Here is yet another example of how traditional recruitment schemes fail. Typically, recruitment focuses on getting someone with a potential interest to get involved. This does nothing for folks who personally have no interest in pursuing game or winning tournaments. Consider that the most football fans will never pick up a football after high school, but the NFL doesn’t let that stop their promotion efforts.

By publicly demonstrating skills in an organized manner people will have a chance to observe, first hand, what skills are really involved. This would effectively satisfy the Trial stage because the spectator would have first hand experience by observing. I’m convinced that the reason traditional ball sports fair so well is because most of the general public has personally been involved in the games (through tax-payer funded high school teams), and the sports organizations effectively promote the skill of the stars. In other words, the Joe and Jane Public have learned to appreciate the abilities of ball players. For someone who has never attempted to hunt game or attended a shooting match there is no frame of reference and they haven’t been taught to appreciate the skill involved. Add in the fact that shooting sports only promotes to those currently active, and even this promotion is ineffective.

Am I saying that the promotional efforts of shooting and hunting organizations for the past 150 years or so have been largely ineffective? In a word, YES! At least they have been ineffective when compared to the success enjoyed by professional ball sports. Shooters have made numerous important advances and created a plethora of interesting programs. The problem is, even though raw numbers of hunting/shooting participants are rising, the percentage of the general public participating is decreasing. Consider the National Rifle Association. They are the oldest, largest, most active, most recognizable, and single most important marksman’s organization on the planet. Yet, since 1871, just over 4 million people have signed up. With 1¼ centuries of experience in the field, in a country with 80 million people owning firearms, the NRA still can’t convince 95% of gun owners to participate. Less than 3% of the NRA membership is classified in a NRA discipline!