Last month another success was obtained through the Families Afield program. New York has become the 27th state to enact legislation lowering age barriers for new big game hunters in the state. [Editor’s note: Families Afield is a program developed by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation and National Wild Turkey Federation to urge states to review and eliminate unnecessary hunting age restrictions and ease hunter education mandates. The ultimate goal of the program is to send more new hunters than ever to hunter education classes, and reverse the trend of declining sportsmen’s numbers. See http://www.ussportsmen.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=332&srcid=271]

Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte (D- Niagara Falls) introduced Assembly Bill 11033 earlier this year. It was based on the Families Afield initiative started by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), National Shooting Sports Foundation and National Wild Turkey Federation that was begun in 2004 as a national effort to end age restrictions on new hunters entering the field. On July 23, NY Governor David Paterson signed the legislation.

This new law will allow both 14 and 15-year olds to hunt big game with a firearm as long as they are supervised by an experienced mentor that is a licensed hunter at least 21 years old and with at least three years of big game hunting experience. Prior to the new law, those that were under the age of 16 were not allowed to hunt big game by using firearms. In fact, New York was the last state in the country that had such a prohibition.