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Who is Today’s Rifle Hunter?


If there’s one almost-universal commonality that ties hunters together, it’s the fact that most of them participate in some form of rifle hunting. About 18 million U.S. hunters take to the woods each season with rifle in hand. There is little doubt that the pursuit of America’s No. 1 big-game animal, the whitetail deer, is what drives this number.


Let’s take a look at who they are what other pursuits rifle hunters enjoy.


A 2016 demographic profile from the National Sporting Goods Association in its report, “Sports Participation in 2016, Shooting Sports” prepared for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, reveals that in 82.2% of rifle hunters are male, with an average age of 43.2 years old. Females, who make up the remaining 17.8% of rifle hunters, have an average age of 36.9 years old.


Other findings from the study:


  • Rifle hunters are trending older. More than one out of five rifle hunters (21.1%) fall into the 45 to 54 age group. It’s interesting to note how this contrasts with the fact that nearly one-fourth of the nation’s 6 million bowhunters are age 25 to 34.


  • Participation of rifle hunters with regard to market size is very similar to that of bowhunters, with nearly 34% of them living in a market with a population of 2 million or more.


  • Rifle hunter of Hispanic ethnicity now comprise 7.3% of rifle hunters; another 4.1% of rifle hunters are African-American.


  • The South Atlantic region of the U.S. is home to nearly one-fifth (19.2%) of all rifle hunters, followed closely by the West South Central region at 14.1% and West North Central at 13%.


A related NSGA study released earlier this year tallied cross-participation by rifle hunters in other activities. Participation in freshwater fishing tops the list at 54.2%. Hunting with bow and arrow comes in at a respectable 27%.


To see more data as well as other high-level cross-participation activities by America’s rifle hunters, see the infographic included here.


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