The economic study we need

general

Shooting is a serious contributor to the Victorian economy, worth up to $2 billion per annum, support jobs and regional economies. We believe the government can justify a broad based economic study, with recommendations to identify investment opportunities

A rarely used but important part of the gun debate revolves around economics.  Those opposed to the shooting sports are quick to express their (misguided) views about animal welfare and firearm technology, but rarely if ever challenge the economic benefits the shooting sports bring.

Victoria’s 180,000 licenced shooters spend a lot more money than non-shooters would think. If you want proof, look no further than events such as the SHOT Expo at Melbourne Showgrounds.  Why the Showgrounds? – because the event is too big for Jeffs Shed, Melbourne’s largest exhibition hall.

How much is shooting worth?

A desktop study conducted by the Combined Firearms Council of Victoria a few years ago identified the shooting sports were worth nearly $2B to the Victorian economy every year.

That’s around $11,000 per shooter, per year, spent on firearms, safes, travel, accommodation, food, memberships, magazines, insurances, ammunition, specialised clothing, dogs (and related costs), license fees and permit.  This supports full time employment in areas where employment opportunities are otherwise scarce.  It also generates significant taxation revenue which supports the development of other community assets such as schools, roads and hospitals.

A more recent study by the Game Management Authority into the value of hunting identified it was worth about $439m a year – or just shy of $10,000 per hunter per year.

It’s significant that these two studies came up with broadly similar figures because it goes a long way to making the case out for the Victorian government to obtain better information on the opportunity it has to enhance the economic contribution shooting provides to the state.

Overseas experience

15790049 (Medium)

Shooters spend a lot of money doing what they love to do

UK:  In 2006, the UK based Public & Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC) conducted a
similar study to that conducted by the GMA  It found that approximately 480,000 people shoot live quarry, UK shooters spend some £2b each year on goods and services, shooting is worth £1.6b to the UK economy and creates some 70,000 jobs.  

The report noted that shooting provided five times the annual income of Britain’s biggest wildlife conservation organisation, the RSPB and that if shooting were stopped, it would severely damage conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in the UK.

USA:  In 1998, a report conducted for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Agency, National Shooting Sports Foundation and others found that the hunting and shooting sports market generated in excess of $30.9 billion of economic activity annually, supporting more than 986,000 jobs.

Request to the Victorian State Government

Earlier this year, the CFCV wrote to the Minister for Sport, the Hon John Eren MP, proposing the government conduct a broad based study into the shooting sports (ie not just hunting).  We recommended this be used as a platform for further investigation to identify what level of further government investment into the shooting sports can be publicly justified.

The response did not produce the study we hoped for, however the Minister did make  a number of comments we felt were useful.

Firstly, he recognised our commitment to developing and supporting the shooting sports in Victoria.   Secondly, he noted the government’s recognition of “the valuable economics benefits of shooting sports in Victoria”.  Finally he noted the government’s contribution of $12.5m towards the development of shooting facilities in Victoria (a CFCV initiative co-launched with the government in 2006).

In other words, the Minister’s response appeared to validate the point we made; that shooting provides valuable economic benefits to the state.

Where to from here?

So far there has been only one approach on this matter to the government and more will be needed.  However the evidence to support the need for the study is very strong and backed by overseas experience, so we believe it is only a matter of time before the right result is achieved.

Equally important is the need for this study to have measurable outputs for the Victorian shooting community rather than become an academic footnote; this is best achieved if the study is commissioned by the government – but with our input.

As noted earlier, shooting generates significant taxation receipts which are returned to the state which means sponsoring a properly funded study which has the potential to generate even greater taxation receipts is a simple decision to justify (taking the GMA’s figure of $439m figure above means taxation receipts over $40m).

We believe the study should:

• identify the economic benefits of the shooting sports to the Victorian economy;
• identify the optional level(s) and type(s) of government support needed to grow the shooting sports for the long term benefit of the state; and
• develop implementation options for consideration by government.

We will be providing a copy of this article to most state MPs for their consideration.  This will provide both sides of parliament with the opportunity to consider the development of a study, in their policy platforms ahead of the next state election in 2018.

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  1. Well done Neill and all, I agree whole heartedly. It is about time that our defence turned other than crying about what Govn’s are doing and pointed in this type of direction…an economic arguement is going to be hard to battle.

  2. Thanks Paul. Glad you can see the direction we’re going in. This is not only fertile soil for us but it gets away from navel gazing. Regards Neil

  3. Hi There,

    I was reading through your economic report recommendation email and in the section “How much is shooting worth?” you mentioned two reports.

    1: your own desktop review showing the average shooter spends approximately $11,000 each per year (180K shooters divided through $2B)
    2: the Game management report that claims the shooting sports contribute $439,000,000 or approximately $10,000 per each shooter.

    You went on to say that the two reports came up with a similar number, ie 11K over 10K

    But if you run 180,000 shooters through $49M it does not equate to $10K per shooter its only $2438 per shooter. that means your claim of the two reports coming in with a similar number is not correct.

    I have been a sporting/hunting shooter all my life (I’m 47) and I am an avid collector of WWI and WWII rifles. I have never come anywhere near spending $11K dollars in one year. let alone year in year out on my shooting.

    I would agree that the estimate of $2438 per shooter per year as defined by the game counsel is a robust number, but to go to the government with your appraisal of $2B worth of gross value to the Victorian economy and ask for a full inquiry I think would not be met very favorably if its presented with the current figures outlined in the email.

    Just my thoughts on the matter.

    Regards Rob Stevenson.

  4. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the comment. Like you I would spend nowhere near that amount but know plenty that do. How they can do it, I do not know but it includes business expenses which would no doubt boost that figure up.

    The $2B figure is aactually lower than studies done by VRFish on fishing and the Boating industry Assn on boating – but I fully accept that a desktop analysis could easily be wrong by a long way. However even if it was $700m (noting the GMA said hunting was $439m and therefore a big part of $700m) then I”m still happy with the point being made that this is not small cheese.

    In terms of the calculation, the GMA study was in relation to the 45,000 or so game licence holders which is around a quarter of those holding shooters licences. so if you divide the $439m by 45,000 then you get around $9,700 – just short of $10k.

    Regards Neil

  5. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the clarification, the fact the second study used a smaller number of shooters divided through the 439M helps make more sense of the data above.

    I still believe though that the vast majority of shooters would struggle to spend the $11K a year. (that’s upwards of 15 to 20% of an average income.)

    If there is a smaller number of dealers etc in the total group that is biasing the overall value up for all shooters would it be prudent to identify that group and adjust the value to better reflect the spending habits of the average shooter? and a separate number for the commercial group?

    Businesses come and go and the spending in one year by commercial groups may and may not be completely representative of years to come.

    I don’t think we can compare the boating and fishing numbers to shooting numbers, as the demographics of each group is hugely different, and the commercial side of the B&F group dwarfs the commercial side of firearms industry in Victoria.

    But All that aside, I do believe there is significant value added to the Victorian economy by shooting based activities and the government need to consider this aspect when making policy decisions etc, so the move by the council to bring this into the forefront is a good one.

    regards Rob.

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