We are already way off track from English box locks so I will leave it alone after this.
Unfortunately we have a licensing system which discourages new hunters. If Dad didn’t sign Junior up for hunter’s safety in middle school Junior will likely never hunt. The rub is only a hunter knows to sign his kid up. This is not at all good.
Hunting is doomed when it becomes and exclusively inherited custom where new hunters only come from old hunters. Attrition naturally pulls many away from hunting (which is fine). Some outside replacements are called for. Conservation and shooting programs are all well and good but this is working at the fringes. I would prefer we cast a wider net.
Our licensing system discourages replacement hunters because they might have an accident. Unintended consequences of a safety obsessed culture. It won’t get better.
This has depressed me. I need a drink or something.
Actually, most states allow "mentored" hunting for kids too young to qualify for the hunter safety course. In fact, there's a move afoot--promoted by NSSF and maybe NRA as well--to make sure that can happen in all states. The hunter safety course is not supposed to take the place of going out with dad, older brother, uncle, whomever when you're 9 or 10. But we also have to face facts: if all the kids who learned from fathers etc had turned into safe hunters, we probably never would have had a need for hunter education. Some were excellent teachers, some were pretty lousy teachers.
For the most part, new hunters have always come from old hunters. Inherited tradition. Actually, in terms of hunting and shooting, we're doing a better job of recruiting "outsiders" now than we used to. BOW for the women, a group that includes a lot of single moms; SCTP to get the school kids interested in shotgun shooting. Of course those are offset by the increased urbanization of our society, distancing people from the land where their food is grown and their meat is either raised or can be hunted, and by a much smaller military which used to be a good introduction to guns for those who hadn't grown up around them.