Americans’ Attitudes Toward Hunting and Sport Shooting Report Identifies Decline

Posted on: Jun 17, 2024

The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (Council), in collaboration with Responsive Management, has unveiled the much-anticipated report, "Americans' Attitudes Toward Hunting and Sport Shooting 2024."

This extensive study, funded by a Multistate Conservation Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, provides critical insights into American views on hunting and sport shooting. Swanny Evans, Director of Research and Partnerships for the Council, commented, "This report highlights the importance of understanding public opinion nuances to improve communication and engagement strategies within the outdoor industry. Public support is not the lowest on record, but it is significantly below the 81% approval we saw in 2021 and appears to be trending down."

The study found that public approval for legal hunting and shooting sports is at 76% which is a 5% decrease since 2021, equating to approximately 12.5 million Americans. Evans acknowledged the decline, stating, "The data from this report will be pivotal in shaping our efforts to promote hunting and shooting sports as relevant activities throughout all segments of society. It also helps identify concerns and aids in efforts to enhance safety and conservation education programs."

The 2024 report builds on years of data collection and trend analysis from Responsive Management, offering a comprehensive understanding of how American attitudes toward these activities have evolved. The study is based on a scientific, probability-based multimodal survey of U.S. residents aged 18 and older, ensuring a representative sample of the population.

Key Findings:

  • Overall Approval Rates: Rates of approval of legal hunting and legal recreational shooting are quite similar: 76% of Americans approve of each, while disapproval stands at 12% regarding hunting and 13% regarding recreational shooting.
  • Trends: The trends analysis found slightly less approval of hunting and recreational shooting in 2024 compared to 2023, but that difference was not statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level. However, when compared to the high of 81% in 2021, the decline was statistically significant (p < 0.05).
  • Regional Variation: Approval of legal hunting is markedly higher among rural residents, males, and Midwest Region residents than among U.S. residents overall. Approval of legal recreational shooting is highest among rural residents, males, residents of small cities or towns, and residents of the Mountain West Region.
  • Motivations for Hunting: Hunting for food receives the highest approval, with 84% of respondents approving of hunting for meat and 83% for obtaining locally sourced food. Conservation-related motivations also receive strong support, while trophy hunting is the least approved motivation, with only 29% approval.
  • Motivations for Recreational Shooting: Shooting to learn self-defense skills receives the highest approval at 77%, with for competition (such as the Olympics) coming in close behind at 74%. Interestingly, for the challenge had the lowest approval of the motivations at 64% despite that being a component of competition.
  • Safety Perceptions: While the large majority of Americans (70%) say that most sport shooters know how to safely handle firearms and are careful, a substantial percentage (16%) say that they do not know how to properly handle firearms. When added to the percentage who responded with don’t know on the question (14%), 30% do not unequivocally say that most sport shooters know how to safely handle firearms and are careful.

The full report, "Americans' Attitudes Toward Hunting and Sport Shooting 2024," is available for download on the Council website at www.cahss.org.