Launched in 2004, Families Afield was developed to increase the number of hunters to ensure a promising future for the tradition of hunting and conservation. Hunters provide the lion’s share of support for conservation through the purchases of hunting licenses and excise taxes paid on sales of firearms and ammunition.
“I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be a hunter, so my dad told me we can get this apprentice hunting license and we can see if you like it,” said youth apprentice hunter Seth Wasilewski in a new Families Afield video that features youth and parents who have taken advantage of the program. Seth, who took his first deer that day, went on to complete his hunter education course and continues to hunt—a progression followed by so many other mentored hunters.
Families Afield is a model of cooperative effort by several major organizations. The program was founded in 2004 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. The National Rifle Association and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation are also coalition partners in the Families Afield program.
To achieve its mission, Families Afield focused on removing barriers such as age restrictions that were preventing sportsmen and women from passing hunting on to the next generation. Families Afield also encouraged states to establish an apprentice hunting license—a “try before you buy” concept that allowed newcomers to go afield with an experienced mentor before completing a hunter education course. Cumulative sales of apprentice hunting licenses have surpassed 1 million.