U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- The NRA knows how to measure success. Nearly a year since announcing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) now allows states to use the NRA’s free Online Hunter Education Course as Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Act match dollars, the NRA is pleased to follow up that good news with the fact the course has raised more than $150,000 for state wildlife agencies through matching federal P-R grants to date.
This is an impressive and welcome update since the USFWS announced its new policy 11 months ago, particularly as America works to do more with less amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is truly a win-win for everyone,” said Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr., executive director of NRA General Operations, who acknowledged that the NRA course is one of the most important things the association has ever done for hunters and hunting. “With no financial investment of their own, states can now access match money and new hunters will receive top-notch free education and certification.”
As covered on this website, the much-celebrated P-R Act, also called the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, is what established a funding mechanism for wildlife conservation, habitat enhancement, and related activities through imposing an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition. Sponsored by (and later led to a similar tax on archery equipment and handguns). The act was prompted by the knowledge that populations of many wildlife species, particularly game species, had declined due to poor or no management.
Years later, P-R funds continue to be collected by the USFWS and are then appropriated to state fish and wildlife agencies based on a state’s size and number of license holders. The P-R Act stipulates that the funds only can be used by a given state’s wildlife agency specifically for wildlife conservation and hunting management.
The big winners in tapping a combined total of $151,880 in P-R funds are Florida and Oklahoma. First up, as the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website shared in November, the Sunshine State moved quickly to adopt the free NRA online hunter education course and, by then, had already received $70,000 in federal matching funds for its wildlife conservation efforts based on the number of Floridians who took the online course. Funds add up quickly when the going rate for such a course on the open market averages from $14 to $30 per person.
The Sunshine State was the first to take advantage of the new USFWS policy in support of the NRA’s free online hunter education course, which paid welcome dividends.
“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is committed to providing a variety of educational formats and opportunities to satisfy the needs of those interested in learning how to be safe, knowledgeable, responsible and involved hunters,” said Bill Cline, FWC’s section leader for Hunter Safety and Public Shooting Ranges. “We appreciate NRA’s support of our program and their investment in producing a high-quality course that students can take for free.”
Also quick to act on the USFWS policy and take advantage of the new revenue source was Oklahoma—to the tune of $81,880.
“Thanks to our partnership with the NRA and NRA-ILA, thousands of Oklahomans have taken the NRA free on-line hunter education course,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation (ODWC). “Our transition from our own on-line course to the NRA course was smooth and flawless. In addition to great content—delivered at no cost—the ODWC has already received $81,880 in federal matching funds due to the NRA’s donation of the course.”
“We always believed a free, quality online hunter education course would reduce the barriers of entry for first time hunters while helping state agencies recover P-R dollars,” said Peter Churchbourne, a director with the NRA Hunters Leadership Forum. “Our hope is more states follow Oklahoma and Florida’s lead and expand their hunter education and wildlife conservation programs for all to enjoy.”
Once state wildlife agencies evaluate the dollars and “sense” of it all, what state wouldn’t want to take advantage of the USFWS’ new policy and the free NRA Online Hunter Education Course—the most comprehensive online hunter education course nationwide—as a brand new funding opportunity? Thank you, USFWS, for underscoring the NRA’s $3 million investment in hunting’s future in creating the most comprehensive, free online hunter education program nationwide. To check out the program firsthand, visit NRAHE.org.
For information on getting the NRA course approved for use in your state, email [email protected] or call 800-492-4868. For an added bonus, the NRA course goes far to support the R3 (recruit, retain and reactivate) movement to engage new and lapsed hunters while boosting hunter funding for state wildlife agencies that rely on hunters’ dollars to advance vital wildlife conservation goals.
While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. Visit: www.nra.org