Shotguns & Shooting  |  03/24/2023

Cultivating Habitat Champions Through Shooting Sports


How the support of shooting sports teams is making a positive impact on the upland community

By Andy Fondrick

This time of year, the buzz around Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever is dominated by efforts to host banquets and put habitat on the ground to provide our favorite upland birds all the resources they need to make it through another spring and early summer season that will include nesting and hopefully brood-rearing.

However, there is another lesser-known way “The Habitat Organization” works to expand our impact while also bolstering our country’s hunting heritage as the weather begins to warm up. 

“When you think about conservation, shooting sports almost certainly isn’t at the top of the list, but it should be,” says Colby Kerber, Director of Conservation Education Programs with Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever. “You’ve heard the statement that hunters are America’s greatest conservationists, and it’s true, but seldom do you hear the same about those involved in shooting sports. Whether simply target practicing for fun or competing in recreational shooting like trap, sporting clays, and long-range, it all helps fund conservation efforts through the Pittman-Robertson Act. Shooting sports also provide physical activity, demonstrate sportsmanship, teach responsibility, encourage safe handling of firearms, and serve as a pathway to introduce someone new to hunting. Not to mention it is a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends outdoors!”

In addition to being a gateway to the outdoors, this great past-time has also given the organization’s chapters the ability to connect with local participants that may not know about the importance of our habitat conservation efforts.

“Many of our QF & PF chapters partner with local shooting teams to provide participants with resources to help offset event expenses, but chapters have also been hosting hundreds of Learn to Shoot (LTS) events for youth and adults across the county. These LTS events provide educational experiences that are safe, fun, and memorable to help attract new recreational shooters and further engage people with hunting and conservation.”

But the connections and dedication to the sport doesn’t just stop within the ranks of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Many of our incredible partners, including SCHEELS, have been long-time supporters of shooting sports as well.

According to SCHEELS Communications and Sponsorship Manger, Nathan Johnson, SCHEELS partners with multiple organizations that support the sport of trap shooting, including USA Clay Target League and Scholastic Clay Target Program. These organizations provide access to a safe, responsible, educational, and fun environment for trap shooting.

“Supporting these groups with young athletes allows them the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons, especially around responsible shooting,” Johnson says. “The early lessons they learn can also lead to other experiences in conservation and habitat sustainability. As leaders in conservation, Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever serve as educational resources for these youth athletes, teaching them the importance of habitat improvement and access, so we can enjoy the outdoors for years to come.” 

By supporting local shooting sports teams, Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever and partners like SCHEELS are creating more and more believers in the organization’s habitat mission. 

If you’re itching to get out to the range or walk your local sporting clays course, check out the annual Spring Shooting Sale at the QF & PF Store and that runs through March 26, 2023 and shop year-round for your shooting and upland needs knowing that every purchase made through our exclusive online SCHEELS store generates funds for our wildlife habitat mission. Through this special partnership you’re more than a customer, you’re a conservationist.

Andy Fondrick is the digital marketing coordinator for Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever and he's looking forward to getting out and busting clays this spring.