New Agreement to Help Preserve the Bowhunting Tradition

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The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has signed an agreement with the Archery Trade Association and its two foundations – ArrowSport and the Bowhunting Preservation Alliance -- to increase archery and bowhunting opportunities while increasing long-time support from Tennessee bowhunters for wildlife conservation.

“Tennessee has a rich archery and bowhunting tradition, and by partnering with the Bowhunting Preservation Alliance, we can do even more to serve the long-term interests of our archery and bowhunting communities,” said Gary Myers, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “This partnership allows us to work even more efficiently together. We’ve always had a good relationship with archers, bowhunters and their organizations, but this agreement formalizes those partnerships to ensure we develop programs that recruit and retain more archers and bowhunters.”

The agreement, known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), was signed Tuesday, Sept. 28, in Atlantic City, N.J., during the annual conference of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The ATA also signed MOUs that day with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and wildlife agencies from Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. The BPA and AS, both nonprofit foundations, receive substantial funding and support from the ATA, the archery and bowhunting industry, and archery and bowhunting organizations.

The new agreement expands and encourages archery and bowhunting participation -- wherever compatible in Tennessee -- by helping the state secure federal funding and private expertise to develop archery ranges, archery education, and bowhunting education and bowhunting programs. Myers said that although it’s relatively easy to learn and shoot archery in rural Tennessee, he hopes to see more work go into the construction of archery ranges in metro areas. He also wants the state to expand programs that work with bowhunters to manage metro deer herds.

Myers’ comments were echoed by Jay McAninch, CEO and president of ATA, BPA and AS. “This agreement goes well beyond the archery industry and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency,” McAninch said. “We want to work with Tennessee to include all of its many archery and bowhunting interest groups. This agreement underscores bowhunting as a conservation tool that is vital for recreation and wildlife management across the country.”

Based on its sales of hunting and fishing licenses, Tennessee receives federal funding through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from excise taxes collected on the sales of bows, arrows and other archery equipment nationwide. This money can then be used on programs such as archery-range construction; bowhunter education and training; archery education in schools; mentoring programs; and urban, youth and special hunts. Nationwide, this Wildlife Restoration Program allocated nearly $204 million from excise taxes, collected under the Pittman-Robertson Act, to state fish and wildlife agencies in fiscal year 2004.

Pat Ruble, the BPA’s director of governmental affairs, said MOUs have become increasingly popular between wildlife agencies and private groups. He said many states have long used MOUs to work with Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation and Quail Unlimited. One vital reason for increased “partnering” is tighter budgets in the public and private sectors.

“The archery industry and the states understand none of us can go it alone and get far these days,” Ruble said. “Cooperation is often just a case of realizing, ‘Been there, done that.’ We need to pool our resources and our expertise to take advantage of all the materials, funding and manpower already available. A lot of effort and money was wasted in the past nationwide because groups this size are just big enough that they could build their own programs without asking each other what they’ re working on. They too often duplicated each other’s projects, weren’t aware of the other group’s previous efforts, and ultimately failed because they got spread too thin by reinventing each other’s wheels.”

Erik Watts of Easton Technical Products, chairman of the ATA’s board of directors, praised Tennessee’s efforts to increase archery and bowhunting opportunities. “An important part of having more archers and bowhunters is that we can generate more federal-excise tax revenues by increasing equipment sales,” Watts said. “That money goes toward the states’ efforts to increase fish and wildlife habitat while creating more opportunities to hunt and fish. By using some of that federal funding to increase archery education, we’ll create more places to find equipment, and build more places to take lessons and shoot archery. When we address those three needs, it’s only natural that more people will become bowhunters, which means an increased emphasis to work with bowhunters to improve wildlife management.”