biden administration withholding hunter education and archery program funding

Biden administration withholding funding for schools with hunter safety education, archery programs

There are still more questions than answers right now as the conservation community grapples with the Biden administration’s withholding of funding to public schools over school archery and hunter safety programs.

Late last week, it came to light that the administration was withholding Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funds from schools based on an amendment prohibiting ESEA funds from helping provide any person with a dangerous weapon or to provide “training in the use of a dangerous weapon.”

In 2022, after the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings, Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which included an amendment to the ESEA of 1965. In late June 2022, the Department of Education made clear that archery and hunter safety programs precluded schools from receiving ESEA funding.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), alongside state and national partners, are drafting a letter to the Department of Education urging re-interpretation and the issuance of corrected guidance to schools nationwide.

MUCC Chief Executive Officer Amy Trotter said withholding this funding damages the kids who need it most.

“These programs teach life-long skills and are critical to engaging youth in our outdoor heritage, and tens of thousands of kids benefit from them, grow through them and take away confidence and personal responsibility,” Trotter said. “We should be encouraging diversity in school programs, especially those that encourage safe handling of firearms, archery and conservation principles.”

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) stands to be dismantled if this interpretation stands. According to its website, “NASP is an activity that doesn’t discriminate based on popularity, athletic skill, gender, size, or academic ability.” The program is designed  for fourth through twelfth-grade students and teaches skills that extend beyond the classroom.  

In a letter to Department of Education Secretary Cardona, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), key negotiators of the BSCA, urged a reinterpretation of the guidance, citing congressional intent.

In the letter, the senators highlight the social values of these programs, the inclusivity, mental health benefits and the precipitous drop in hunting accidents since hunter’s safety programs began more than 50 years ago.

“Archery and hunter safety education programs are important to millions of students and families across the country. The results speak for themselves,” said the letter. “Neither the BSCA’s text nor the intent of the law would limit educational programming for millions of students, especially not programming that would otherwise support and fortify student mental health and safety.”

The solution to this issue is re-issuing guidance from the Department of Education. This does not need to go through a formal rulemaking process or legislation. The goal is to solve this with the clarification of congressional intent from Senators Cornyn and Tillis and grasstops involvement from organizations like MUCC and our national partners. 


  1. Mike Hogan on August 7, 2023 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks Nick for jumping on this topic and bringing it to the fore front for all Michigan sports people to see what is going on in Washington. I also contacted Mike Avery to see if he was aware because his grandson is on his high school trap team. I heard your discussion with Mike this morning on his podcast. Hopefully your two voices will wake up the sportsmen and women in this state and make them more aware of these blindsided attacks on our outdoor heritage. Keep up the great work and thank you!!!

  2. Robert Warner on August 7, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    That’s only one correct answer to this 100% call out on the evening news on a national news station so every red blooded American can hear this not hidden on a post on Facebook

    • Norman McLain on August 8, 2023 at 11:07 pm

      Yes, we wouldn’t want ANYTHING decent or of value in our Public Schools. What a joke they truly are. You have to be some kind of stupid to keep your children in these indoctrination centers.

  3. […] early August, conservation and shooting sports organizations learned of an improper interpretation of the Bipartis… (BSCA) that prevented schools from receiving federal funding if they have archery or hunter safety […]

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