2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report

Outdoor participation continues to grow at record levels. More than half (54%) of Americans ages 6 and over participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2021, and the outdoor recreation participant base grew 2.2% in 2021 to 164.2M participants. This growing number of outdoor enthusiasts, however, did not fundamentally alter long-term declines in high frequency or “core” outdoor participation.

Additional key findings of the report include the following:

  • The outdoor recreation participant base grew again in 2021. The Outdoor participant base has increased 6.9% since the COVID pandemic began in early 2020. Although many of the official restrictions on indoor entertainment including restaurants, bars, and sporting events ended in 2021, outdoor recreation participation continued to grow.
  • Youth participation is climbing but the frequency of their participation is declining.
  • New outdoor participants are more diverse than the overall outdoor participant base and are driving increasing diversity not only by ethnicity but also across age groups.
  • Hi frequency or “core” participation in outdoor recreation is declining. The outdoor recreation “core” participant, defined as someone who participates 51 times or more in outdoor recreation activities in the past 12 months, has declined from 71.9% in 2007 to 58.7% of the participant base in 2021. In fact, the number of core participants has declined from 99.5M in 2007 to 96.4M today.
  • The number of participants 55 years and older increased more than 14% since 2019, and senior participants ages 65 and older were in the fastest growing age category with 16.9% growth since the COVID pandemic began in early 2020.
  • Despite increases in the number of participants, the number of outdoor outings is declining significantly. The number of outings has been in decline for the past decade and the increased number of participants are not stemming the tide.

The Outdoor Foundation has developed the Outdoor Participation Trends Report for 15 years. The annual report examines demographics of the outdoor participant — defined as someone who participated in an outdoor activity at least one time in the past year. The survey reflects data gathered during the 2021 calendar year.

 

2022 Special Report on Hunting and the Shooting Sports

The 2022 Special Report on Hunting and the Shooting Sports provides a comprehensive look at the more than 30 million Americans ages 6 and over who participated at least once in hunting or target shooting with both firearms and archery equipment in 2021. The report identifies trends and includes detailed information about participation including motivations, barriers, and preferences of participants.

Highlights from the report include:

Hunting:

  • 4.6 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and over went hunting at least once
  • 27 percent of participants were female, up from 16 percent a decade ago
  • Share of hunters who were Black or Hispanic increased 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively, on average for the past 3 years
  • “For food/meat” was the number one motivation for hunting
  • 49 percent of hunters first participated before the age of 18
  • 68 percent of hunters were introduced to hunting by a family members

Firearms Target Shooting:

  • 6.2 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and over participated in target shooting
  • 32 percent of participants were female, up from 25 percent a decade ago
  • Share of target shooters who were Black or Hispanic increased 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively, on average for the past 3 years
  • “For recreation” was the number one motivation for target shooting
  • “High cost” was the number one barrier reported for target shooting

Archery Target Shooting:

  • 2.4 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and over participated in archery
  • 39 percent of participants were female, the highest since 2016
  • Archers are slightly more diverse that firearms target shooters
  • “For recreation” was the number one motivation for target shooting
  • 19 percent of participants shot solely on public property/ranges

This special report was developed by the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports and the Outdoor Foundation.

2021 Outdoor Foundation Annual Report

Read the Outdoor Foundation’s 2021 Annual Report to see evidence of the transformational impact our network delivers, insights from our 2021 research reports, and success stories from our partners across the country.

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2022 Outdoor Industry Workforce Assessment

The Outdoor Industry Workforce Assessment looks to identify major trends in workforce hiring and retention, help further educational and up-skilling initiatives, and provide a snapshot of where the industry stands in its efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • New hires: The industry expects to hire for a high volume of entry and skilled professional positions over the next year.
  • Work/life balance: Outdoor companies are prioritizing flexible work arrangements and work-life balance as attraction and retention strategies ahead of employee benefits and financial rewards.
  • Qualified applicants: 66% of survey respondents report having difficulty finding qualified applicants. The largest barriers to recruiting hard-to-fill jobs are finding qualified applicants, and lack of affordable housing options proximal to the job location.
  • Increasing DEI: Companies who have a diversity plan in place are utilizing a wide variety of methods and tactics to achieve their goals. However, companies that do not currently have a diversity plan in place largely do not plan to implement one or do not know where to start.

Read key takeaways from the report and areas of opportunity for organizations and the outdoor industry here.

The Outdoor Industry Workforce Assessment was conducted by Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy with input and support from Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Basecamp Outdoor, Path to Peak Education + Consulting, and the Confluence of States. Financial support for the development and execution of this survey was provided by a grant from The VF Foundation.

2022 Special Report on Fishing

Recreational fishing is a vibrant part of America’s outdoor tradition, promoting wellness, fostering bonding with family and friends, and forging a deep connection with nature, particularly amid COVID-19 related limitations. Whether fishing on lakes, rivers, streams, or seas; from shorelines, boats, or embankments; millions of Americans were united in 2021 by the love of fishing. Using 15 years of fishing participation data, the Outdoor Foundation and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) partnered to produce the Special Report on Fishing for the 12th consecutive year. This report provides a comprehensive look at overall trends in participation, as well as detailed information on specific fishing categories. Insights include motivations, barriers, and preferences of key groups. Special sections are dedicated to youth, Hispanic Americans, and females—populations we must engage, activate, and retain to ensure future growth.

Key findings from the report include the following:

  • In 2021, 52.4 million Americans went fishing, up 4.5% over 2019.
  • 12.9 million youth (ages 6-17) went fishing in 2021, up 14% over 2019.
  • 4.7 million Hispanics fished in 2021, up 7% over 2019.
  • 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, up 8% over 2019.
  • 86% of current fishing participants first fished before age 12, demonstrating the critical importance of introducing fishing at a young age.
  • Americans primarily fished to enjoy the splendor of nature while escaping the usual demands of life.

 

2021 Holiday Season Special Report: Outdoor Participation and Purchasing Behavior

More than half of the U.S. population, 160.7 million Americans, participate in outdoor recreation activities including skiing, mountain biking, sledding, hiking, snowshoeing, trail running, and walking outdoors. We surveyed more than 4,000 winter outdoor enthusiasts in late November to learn:

  • What activities they plan to participate in during the winter months
  • When they plan to participate
  • How far they plan to travel to participate
  • What mode of travel they plan to use to get there
  • What they plan to shop for during the holiday season
  • Where they plan to shop
  • Who they plan to shop for this holiday season
  • How do they describe themselves

This report summarizes what we learned about their plans, what we learned about their self-perceptions, what happened on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and what we can expect from skiers, runners, cyclists, snowshoers, and all outdoor enthusiasts this winter.

2020 Special Report on Fishing

  • Over 50 million Americans fished last year, the highest number in over a decade.
  • More than 3 million Americans tried fishing for the first time last year.
  • Fishing is among the most popular “gateway” activities; accessible activities that often lead to other forms of outdoor recreation.
  • A record 7 million Americans fly fished in 2019.
  • 1.2 million children ages 6 to 12 tried fishing for the first time last year–up 10 percent in the last three years.
  • Hispanic fishing participants reached a record 4.4 million last year.
  • 17.9 million women reported fishing last year–a record number.

2017 Outdoor Recreation Economy Report

OUTDOOR RECREATION MAKES AMERICA STRONGER

Outdoor recreation is among our nation’s largest economic sectors. From the smallest rural towns to the most densely packed cities, outdoor recreation powers a vast economic engine that creates billions in spending and millions of good – paying American jobs. When we invest the foundation of the recreation economy, our public lands and waters, there is compounding return in the form of healthier communities, healthier economies and healthier people. 

Outdoor Recreation Is a Powerful Force

The outdoor recreation industry is a powerful force in the overall U.S. economy, with consumers spending $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation and creating 7.6 million American jobs.

Outdoor Recreation Creates Healthy Economies and Healthy Communities

Time and time again, when leaders invest in outdoor recreation, research shows that it can reduce crime rates, improve educational outcomes, and lower health care costs.

Outdoor Recreation Depends on Investment in America’s Public Lands and Waters

Our public lands and waters represent the best of America to the rest of the world. The outdoor recreation economy depends on funding, management and access to public lands, which contribute to the growth of our economy and ensure that we have beautiful places to recreate.