Despite a current decline in participation in hunting, camping and fishing, 10-year trends indicate strength in all three areas. According to an analysis of data in the just-released “Sporting Goods Market in 2008,” published annually for nearly 30 years by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), the “outdoor sportsman” product segments remain a vital part of the overall sporting goods market.

Consumer purchases of shooting sports equipment grew the most in the 10-year period 1997-2007, 55.2% to more than $3.9 billion last year. Fishing accounted for an 18.8% increase to $2.2 billion in 2007, and camping equipment sales grew 26.2% to $1.5 billion last year.

Combined, these categories grew 37.0% in those 10 years to $7.7 billion. They grew faster than the overall sports equipment category, which reached $25.3 billion in 2007, a 32.8% increase versus 1997.

Even more significantly, hunting, fishing and camping equipment purchases accounted for 30.4% of all equipment purchases in 2007, up from 29.4% of the $19.0 billion in 1997.

“This data indicates that outdoorsmen and sportsmen are very much committed to their leisure activities,” said NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle. “Increased sales of products in activities that are experiencing declines in participation indicate that the participant base for those activities is strong and viable.”