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The recent reports of increased firearms and ammunition sales across the nation set a positive note for upcoming shooting events and outdoor shows in Arizona despite the nation’s challenging economic downturn, said Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, firearms sales in the nation jumped 28.8 percent in January, for a variety of reasons.
In addition, Winchester previously announced that ammunition sales were up 18 percent in the last quarter of 2008 compared to the previous year.
According to CNNMoney.com recently, there was an 11-percent increase during January of single-day campground reservations over last year, indicating outdoor recreation remains hugely popular even in this economy. (For information about inexpensive family camping vacations, visit http://camping.about.com/b/2008/12/30/camping-outlook-2009.htm).
At the recent SHOT Show in Florida, which is the annual retail trade show for those in the outdoor industry, attendance increased 3 percent this year.
“Yes, economic times are tough and it’s obvious that lots of people are facing financial hardships. But lots of folks also respond to such challenging times by realizing the things that matter most to them – family, friends and the outdoors – can be enjoyed without a big hit on the family budget,” said Gary Hovatter, deputy director for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Hovatter said the department remains optimistic about the public’s participation in upcoming national shooting events and regional outdoor shows on the immediate horizon in Arizona.
“These are all fun and exciting outdoor events for families and individuals that don’t challenge the wallet or purse,” Hovatter said. “Plus, with the fact that we are experiencing back-to-back years of excellent winter precipitation, the prognosis couldn’t be better for enhanced wildlife-related recreation opportunities in Arizona this year from hunting and fishing to wildlife watching and camping.”
The upcoming parade of popular shooting events, outdoor shows and nature festivals include:
- Winter Range, the crowd-pleasing national championship for cowboy action shooting, is unfolding Feb. 25-March 1 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.
- The ever-popular International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) is Feb. 27-March 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
- The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Expo that abounds with hands-on activities at the 1,700-acre Ben Avery Shooting Facility is set for March 28 and 29 (with a youth day for schools on March 27).
- Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival, which is a wildlife-watchers delight, is March 7-8 at the Game and Fish Department’s Base and Meridian Wildlife Area where Avondale Boulevard meets the Gila River.
- The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival has become an annual spring celebration and is scheduled for April 23-26.
“Are most people willing to spend more during these challenging economic times? Probably not, but reconnecting with family outdoor traditions remains a great value, especially this year with the lakes filling and our diverse habitats greening up nicely,” Hovatter said.
Hovatter added that for most families, finding fishing tackle, binoculars, shootin’ irons, wildlife calls and camping equipment is mostly a matter of digging through garages and closets or calling friends and relatives.
Game and Fish officials added that there are opportunities for outdoor-related businesses and organizations to participate in the department’s upcoming outdoor expo in late March. Visit www.azgfd.gov/expo for more information, or see the article in this newsletter.