Advocacy PACs Need Your Support

What is a PAC?

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) PAC and the National Shooting Sports Association (NSSF) PAC are organizations that financially support the Congressional election campaigns of individuals who help protect our rights to hunt and fish. These PACs are bipartisan, and base their contributions on the voting records of Senators, Congressmen and -women—not their party affiliation. They need the help of outdoor retailers and distributors to raise funds for candidates who will protect our industry.


What are the goals of these PACs?

Their mission is to ensure the outdoor shooting sports and fishing industries have an influential voice and presence in the American electoral process, advancing our mutual interests of conservation and promoting a healthy and vibrant outdoor industry. This is done by taking your donations and participating in key fundraisers for candidates that support the outdoor industry.


Why do we need the support of Congress?

Every two years the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election (November 2018). This Congress will need to address key issues like reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that governs all marine fisheries, and the passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, which provides more access to hunting and fishing, reduces industry regulations and improves access, habitat restoration and other sportsmen’s rights too numerous to mention here. Now more than ever, we need a unified voice and the ability to provide funds for re-election campaigns if we want to be heard in Congress.


How can you help?

If you are an NSSF or ASA member, you can visit their respective websites and learn more about NSSFPAC and SportfishingPAC. You can also sign up and contribute to the PACs. Each site is open to members. To learn more about joining NSSFPAC, contact Kayla Berube at or 202.220.1340 ext. 206. For SportfishingPAC, contact Ashley Brinkman at or 703.519.8681 ext. 255.


By Any Name, It’s a Good Bill

The SHARE Act, more commonly known as The Sportsmen’s Act reincarnated, is currently in the House of Representatives as HR Bill 3668. After several attempts under a different bill name and number, it failed to pass. Now, the SHARE Act is back with a vengeance and this time it stands a very good chance of passing under party lines.


Key hunting and fishing components of House Bill 3668 include:


  • Prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (AG) from banning lead in fishing tackle and other outdoor equipment.


  • Requiring the National Park Service (NPS) to get prior state approval before enacting any marine fishing closures. This is vitally important to many of our retailers in park areas like Key Biscayne, FL, Cape Hatteras, NC and Cape Lookout, NC to name just a few.


  • Prioritizing hunting and fishing in federal land management planning discussions and negotiations, something not done in previous administrations.


The Bill is currently in The House Natural Resources Committee hearings and then will go through markup before passing out of committee and going to the full House. We’ll let you know when the time comes to write or call your Representative and let him or her know we need their support for this Bill.



Public-Private Efforts Can Strengthen Outdoor Recreation

In July, President Trump proclaimed it “Made in America Week.” While that might not sound very important, it was an opportunity for Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to promote the administration’s goal of strengthening “America’s tradition of outdoor recreation on public lands.”


During “Made in America Week,” the Department of the Interior hosted a roundtable with outdoor recreation leaders to brainstorm ideas for joint public-private efforts to improve and strengthen the outdoor experience in National Parks and other public properties. The efforts generated ideas that included energy-efficient cabins and more fishing access points.


Via our website, you can read an article written by Zinke that Fox News originally published on July 17. This is the best example that I have read to date on the Trump administration’s vision to use the resources of both the public and private sectors together to improve the access to outdoor recreation on public lands. In the article, Zinke offers his support to improve the experience Americans can expect when visiting our national parks, whether they are on land or in the water.  


The previous administration’s disinterest in working with the private sector is well known. The Trump administration welcomes the private sector’s ideas, input and involvement, and brings hope and promise to many outdoor retailers and anglers alike. This is especially important in areas like Florida’s Key Biscayne National Park and North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National seashores, to name a few. Secretary Zinke and this administration are saying and beginning to do all the right things for our industry. Let’s hope this public-private joint effort continues for many years to come.


Committed to Advocacy

For more than 20 years, Big Rock Sports has led the fight to protect hunting, shooting sports and recreational fishing across North America. As Senior Vice President of Industry Relations, I am involved with several advocacy organizations, including the NC Sound Economy Coalition and the Board of Directors for the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW). I have also been a member of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) Board of Directors for 12 years and currently serve on these ASA committees:


  • Government Affairs
  • Nomination
  • Keep America Fishing
  • Keep Florida Fishing Advisory
  • Trade & Commerce, Freshwater, East/Gulf Saltwater and West Coast Saltwater sub-committees


But I’m not the only team member taking part in advocacy efforts for our company. Bluefield Brands President Dave Martin serves on the Board of Directors for Coastal Conservation Association of NC and is a member ASA’s ICAST Show Committee.


Senior Communications Manager Shannon Farlow was recently selected to serve as a member of ASA’s Membership and Communications Committees. Shannon has been asked to use his communications knowledge and position as Sporting Retailer editor to connect Big Rock customers with the ASA.


Territory Account Manager Dave Strahan serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association (NSIA) while Inside Sales Representative Brian Kurzbein is a past member of NSIA’s Board of Directors. These Big Rock team members—and countless more who are involved on a local level—are helping to ensure that our industry thrives.

State of Advocacy

When you think of “State of the Industry,” you immediately think of a Visioning Statement or even a comprehensive plan. For the fishing industry, the Center for Coastal Conservation (CCC), in collaboration with other marine industry partners, recently published A Vision for Marine Fisheries Management in the 21st Century: Priorities for a New Administration. This very well-thought-out and detailed visioning plan is a great first step for the marine fisheries industry in developing a working relationship with the new administration and incoming congressional members.


To quote Jeff Angers, President of CCC, “The recommendations outlined in the Vision seek to more effectively manage the marine recreational fishing sector—to improve the public’s access to public resources, to create jobs and to enhance conservation of fish stocks.”


According to Angers, “The report recommends a shift away from using the same tools to manage commercial fishing and recreational fishing at the federal level. It suggests new approaches should reflect the reality of the demand for recreational access to US marine fishery resources, the current economic activity associated with that access and the scientific data of the light footprint recreational access has on our fisheries access.”


My compliments to Jeff and his industry associates for the very proactive approach to enhancing recreational fishing access with the new administration and Congress. With recent victories allowing recreational fishing access in several marine monument designations by the Obama administration, it is imperative we keep the momentum going and the message that the recreational fishing community are the leading conservationists and visionaries to preserving resources and our access to them. The 11 million saltwater marine fishing activities and byproducts contribute $70 billion annually in economic activity and over 450,000 U.S. jobs. It is critically important for the new administration and Congress to understand the economic value that results from preserving and growing recreational saltwater marine fishing in this nation. Our future depends on it.

Recreational Fishing Goes Hand in Hand with Conservation

On August 26, President Obama announced a major expansion of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Monument, otherwise known as “Papah?naumoku?kea,” to the maximum 200-mile limit allowed by the US Exclusive Economic Zone. It previously was limited to a 50-mile protected area created by President George W. Bush in 2006. Both of these proclamations were enacted using The 1906 Antiquities Act, which empowers the president to take such actions without the consent or approval of congress.


What does this have to do with recreational fishing getting its just due in conservation? Well, plenty. The original Act, passed in 2006 by President Bush, banned all commercial activities in these waters—including recreational fishing. The expanded 2016 Act from President Obama further restricts commercial activities in waters up to 200 miles from Hawaii, with the exception of recreational fishing and boating, which is allowed in waters 50–200 miles out—a major exception specifically written in and made for the recreational fishing and boating community.


While you might say this has no effect on me or where I live and fish or boat, it indeed does. It sets a precedent for all future presidents who may use The 1906 Antiquities Act to enhance their conservation legacy to make sure recreational fishing and boating are not part of the commercial restrictions, and are acknowledged for their conservation efforts. Separating us from commercial fishing, offshore oil explorations and drilling, mineral extraction, etc. and showing how recreational fishing is compatible with conservation is a big step forward, and would not have been possible without the diligence of ASA President Mike Nussman and special advisor George Cooper. They spent many hours on Capitol Hill outlining the conservation and economic impacts recreational fishing has on this nation. For that, a special thanks to both of you is well earned.

Supporting Two-Step Distribution

Big Rock Sports is proud to be one of 37 voting members of the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW), and also proud to serve on their Board of Directors. The NASGW works behind the scenes for the most part and is an unknown to most retailers, but provides a valuable service to all of you. Here is a brief rundown of who and what NASGW is, based on a recent survey conducted by an independent third-party called Growth Strategy Partners:


  • The NASGW core consists of 37 voting member shooting sports wholesalers across the US who provide two-step distribution for the industry
  • There are over 500 affiliate non-voting members of NASGW, consisting of shooting sports manufacturers, manufacturer rep agencies, international suppliers, media agencies and service provider companies all aligned with NASGW to support shooting sports retailers
  • Collectively the 37 wholesalers making up the NASGW provide the following service and support to our industry’s retailers:
    • 4,000 total employees, of which nearly 1,000 are in sales and customer service
    • Over $1 billion dollars in stocked inventory to provide you next-day service from coast to coast
    • Over 4 million square feet of warehouse space to stock inventory for immediate shipment
    • Provide next-day shipping over 90% of the time with real-time inventory status look-up
    • Provide credit lines to all their retailers to expedite shipping of merchandise


With the upcoming election trending toward the biggest threat to our Second Amendment rights in may years and for the foreseeable future with Supreme Court justice nominees under the next President’s control, Big Rock Sports, the NASGW and many other shooting sports industry partners like the NRA and the NSSF stand united in support of your Second Amendment rights and the two-step distribution system to best service your retail stores.

Is Inaction the Same as a “No” Vote?

By now, you have received my numerous emails from Big Rock Sports, as well as from the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and other organizations asking for your help in getting passage of the SHARE Act (HR2406) and the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S405) that is currently being considered in the US Senate.


In the space here I won’t bore you again by going over the many, many positive provisions included in these acts that will benefit all outdoorsmen and -women whether hunter, fisher, boater, camper or hiker. The only thing I hope to achieve in this Sportsman column is to convince you that not contacting your Senators and Congressman is the equivalent of a “no” vote against these bills. Every letter, phone call, email and face-to-face interaction counts. The opposition to these two bills is using every means possible to derail this legislation for the third time. They don’t want us to enjoy the outdoor natural resources of this nation. No hunting, no fishing, no boating, no camping, no hiking! Help protect what is rightfully yours, contact your US Representative and Senators today.


California Leads the Way (And Why That’s Not Good)

As we all have heard many times, trends, styles, new ideas, etc. start on our nation’s coasts and eventually work their way into the heartland of the country. Usually these new trends or ideas are welcomed, but not always. This happens to be the case with fishing and shooting sports legislation being discussed by the California legislature and other regulatory agencies in the state.


One such idea or trend is to ban lead in fishing tackle in California. The state is in the process of banning lead in shooting sports ammunition over the next four years, to be completed by 2019. California, through the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is also planning to add lead fishing tackle and sinkers to the “product of concern” listing, a move that will cause harm to both fishermen and the state. This decision is arbitrary, without any scientific evidence or merit and will cost the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue and funding for aquatic resource conservation. California customers need to write the DTSC to withhold traditional fishing tackle from the state’s Safer Consumer Products program.


Another trend coming out of the Golden State is the war for water tied to the four-year drought. With limited water available in the Central Valley area, the drought is pitting the salmon fishery against almond-growing farmers for water. The good news is that Senators Boxer and Feinstein have introduced legislation under S. 1894 to encourage smart use of water to protect the salmon fishery. The bad news is this same bill calls for the eradication of non-native predator species like striped and largemouth bass that have co-existed with salmon for over 100 years without any problems, and provided recreational anglers with other species to fish. It’s solely a water management, not a predator, issue and the two Senators need to amend their bill to protect species like striped and largemouth bass as well. If you reside in California, please write your Senators requesting this change.


A third “trend” is the use of drift gillnets and long lines off the California coast, resulting in by-catch problems as well as mammals and turtles becoming entangled in these nets. Recent meetings at the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) have brought these issues to light, with the council agreeing to shut down the fishery if limits on nine designated species of mammals and turtles are breached. It’s a good first step, but what is needed is the total removal of these gillnets and long lines from the California coast. If you are a California resident, go online and sign the petition to remove these fishing devices once and for all.


You may be wondering why we take an entire article to write about issues only affecting California customers and residents. Getting back to the title of this article, what starts on our coasts spreads across the US and eventually has an effect on all of us, regardless of where we live. Issues related to lead fishing tackle and ammunition, water conservation and non-discriminatory fishing devices will not be limited to California for long, and will be in your own backyard before you know it. Better to fight the battle now, before it spreads across the nation.

From Rendezvous to Summits

As fall gives way to winter and cooling temperatures, it also marks the time for many outdoor organizations to hold their annual business meetings, regional trade shows or planning meetings recapping the successes (and sometimes failures) of 2013, and look ahead to what is in store for 2014 and beyond. Many of you on the East Coast or in the upper Midwest attended one of the three Big Rock Shows this past fall to buy fill-in products for the balance of 2013, as well as preview and schedule out new orders for 2014. Special pricing, terms and rebates make these shows can’t miss opportunities. At the same time, many outdoor industry associations use this time of year to bring their members together to recap 2013 and begin planning for 2014.


One great example of this is Big Rock’s attendance at the Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) annual Rendezvous, which brings leading manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers together to “Learn. Connect. Ignite.” To kick off the event, Timberland sponsored its 15th consecutive local service project in conjunction with Wildcoast, an international services conservation team who lead a cleanup effort south of San Diego to remove debris, tires and waste materials from the Tijuana River Valley’s miles of trails and riverbeds, much of which would have eventually ended up in the Pacific Ocean. Once cleaned up, this area offers recreation to locals for hiking, canoeing, biking and horseback riding.


Another highlight of this year’s OIA Rendezvous was a keynote half-day session on “Building the Outdoor Retail of the Future,” a multi-year project by the Association and IDEO, a world-renowned design agency focused on “uncovering actionable strategies for addressing the rapidly shifting needs and expectations of outdoor consumers.” As the demographic shift in the US moves away from a suburban, Caucasian outdoor consumer to an urban, multilingual generation focused on family activities, the question was posed on how the outdoor industry can engage and attract these consumers who are the fastest growing segment of the US population. Results of this study will be available at the OIA Winter Market this coming January in Salt Lake City.


Several weeks later, KeepAmericaFishing (KAF) and the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) held its annual fall Business Summit. Over 150 members of the Sportfishing community attended this year, participating in association committee meetings, board meetings and overall business-building general sessions. Committee meeting topics included advocacy, government affairs, consumer and trade shows, membership, finance, data and statistics and communications, to name a few.


Key takeaways from this year’s meeting included the 2013 Sportfishing Summit Trade Insights and Market Report produced by Southwick Associates as an exclusive for attendees at this years Summit. The 68-page publication focused on key industry data including economic impacts, equipment markets, US angler profiles and demographics, fishing tackle imports, shipments and license sales garnered from surveys and government reports by Southwick exclusively for the ASA. Look for more details on ASA’s and KAF’s websites.


A second key initiative at this year’s Summit was the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) focus on the 53 million Latin American consumers in the US, including plans for a year-long test campaign in Florida and Texas to reach out to this fast growing segment of the US population. Included in this multi-media approach to attracting more Latin Americans to the sport of fishing will be local and regional industry events, webinars tied to a new microsite, local print, digital and radio media communications and other grassroots opportunities. RBFF has partnered with Lopez Negrete Communications, a leading advisory group on engaging the Latin American community.


I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you our upcoming Big Rock Shows.