NEWTOWN, Conn. -- North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to sign legislation passed by the state's House of Representatives yesterday that will allow new hunters to go afield under the guidance of a licensed adult mentor before taking a hunter education course. Upon the bill's signing, North Carolina will become the 35th state to enact Families Afield legislation.
The law will establish a Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permit that is available to persons of all ages, making it possible for youth or adult newcomers to try hunting if accompanied by a licensed adult hunter or a license-exempt landowner.
While Families Afield was designed to encourage youth to try hunting, an unexpected benefit of the program is that it has created both an interest and a pathway for adults to experience hunting before committing to the comprehensive hunter education course.
Families Afield-style legislation has led to more than 1 million apprentice hunting licenses being purchased nationally since the program's inception in 2004.
"Mentored hunting is safe and, as so many have discovered, a great way to experience your first hunt," said NSSF Director of Recruitment and Retention Melissa Schilling. "By passing this Families Afield bill, North Carolina is doing its part to help protect the tradition of hunting."
The Families Afield program was established by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and National Wild Turkey Federation to bring a new generation of sportsmen and women to the field. The coalition also receives assistance from the National Rifle Association and Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.
Families Afield legislation seeks to lower age barriers to hunting and create new opportunities to hunt, thereby making it easier to pass on hunting's heritage. Program research shows that many apprentice youth and adults go on to take hunter education.
Both chambers of the North Carolina legislature passed their own version of identical bills back in April, and it was left to the House to approve the Senate's version, which it did today, before sending it to the governor's desk to sign.
Learn more about Families Afield at www.familiesafield.org.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 8,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.