Recruit. Retain. Reactivate.
It’s a solid business approach.
In the beginning, Sovereign Sportsman Solutions was a group full of resource-driven individuals passionate about the outdoors. By in large, that still remains true to this day, and the proof is in our org chart, pre-meeting banter, and weekend Facebook posts. But over time, as we sought out the best and brightest in the technology space to innovate and pioneer outdoor recreational technology, we realized that we’d lost a bit of that “we live this stuff” vibe.
There was a central and infectious hum brought to each conversation by the “outdoors people.” They’d been there, and their lives were deeply rooted in the outdoors. On the peripheral, I saw a group of curious teammates leaning towards the gravity of this deeply passionate group.
If we can’t drive successful outdoor recruitment, retention, and reactivation with our own employees, how the heck can we help a state agency do it? So, we doubled down on the “I’ll take you’s,” “I’d like to’s,” and “I was going to go turkey hunting, would you like to tag along’s” and challenged our team to take action.
And the S3 R3 program was set in motion. By introducing small steps that fit well into busy lifestyles, we can provide immediate feedback and create a positive experience. In doing so we are living the personal R3 experience by introducing our co-workers to opportunities not easily available without the right mentorship.
To help build and maintain momentum, the S3 Internship Program is in the process of adding a new student who will act as the R3 Coordinator for our Internal S3 R3 Program.
Here’s a few of those stories (so far):
I’ve spent most of my adult life getting new people into hunting. One of the things I enjoy most about the outdoors is sharing it with someone. I quickly realized though, that I’m not the best mentor for everyone. Though we work well together, my mentee Audrey needed something different from her mentor than what I was used to giving.
I kind of stood back and stoked the flames through my own example and pointed her towards events and resources she might be interested in. My role changed from being her guide through the process to becoming her sounding board, providing the right encouragement or deep detail she needed as she navigated her own journey. It’s taught me a lot of invaluable lessons that can be applied in our work with state agencies moving forward.
-Ben Paige, Marketing Manager
As a kid, I was always interested in trying archery, but the closest I ever got was shooting a plastic bow with a suction cup arrow in the backyard of my suburban New York home. So naturally, after taking the online Hunter Ed course back in February, I was most intrigued by the concept of bowhunting. My S3 mentor suggested I learn how to shoot a bow and arrow, so I attended the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission’s “Try Archery” event for beginners.
As someone who likes planning ahead, it was nice to be able to sign up for an event in advance to make sure it fit into my schedule. With “Try Archery,” I was able to attend a small class at the outdoor recreation center, where I had my own assigned instructor.
My instructor informed me of the safety regulations, taught me about the functionality of a bow, and then took me through the shooting mechanics. My biggest takeaways from the class were the importance of good mechanics and consistency over being strong and powerful.
Having grown up as an athlete, it was exciting to learn a new sport, and I look forward to improving my skills. While I don’t think I’m ready to hit a living, moving target yet (I tend to aim a little low and to the left), “Try Archery” was a good first step towards an eventual bow hunting experience. I see myself going back to the range soon to learn and get more practice.
-Audrey Brooker, Marketing Coordinator
Fire, knives, and guns have always made me pretty nervous. And after taking Hunter Ed and learning about all the things that could go wrong with a firearm, I became even more anxious about the idea of firing one. However, when presented with the opportunity to learn how to shoot in a safe and controlled environment, I decided to give it a chance.
I enrolled in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s FIRST SHOTS Pistol. I was in a small class of six people, and while most participants were interested in guns for personal protection, one other member was also taking it in preparation to go hunting eventually. I felt prepared to hit the range after going through a safety seminar, Q&A, and instructor demos.
When we got to the range, I was startled by the first gunshot I heard (someone getting in some target practice with a rifle), but I quickly got used to the sound. By the time it was my turn to shoot, my heart was pounding but I felt at ease after firing my first shot. The .22 pistol I handled didn’t have much kickback or recoil, which gave me more confidence in my shooting. Before I knew it, I had gone through my allotted 20 bullets.
While my aim will need some work, I accomplished my goal of feeling comfortable with a firearm in hand. And though after my experiences, I prefer archery, I’m open to continuing to learn about firearm safety in a future SECOND SHOTS class.
-Audrey Brooker, Marketing Coordinator
I had not been exposed to guns regularly in my 40+ years. Being around that passion every day in my work environment, and with friends who are avid hunters, I wanted a proper education. I didn’t want to live in fear of guns and had become very interested in wanting to carry as well.
All of that is what set me up to push Eric Richey (my boss) to take me to the range. Finally, after three years, he agreed.
It was one of the most empowering experiences I’ve had. Hopefully, this photo from that first time reflects what I felt at that moment. Since then I have been to the range multiple times with different S3 co-workers. My next step is to enroll in classes. I get so much joy just shooting at the range but I would love to experience hunting someday, probably turkey to start.
-Danielle Daigle, Office Manager
Most new employees share their first lunch break with their new boss at a local restaurant. But if you work for S3, that first lunchbreak bonding moment is at the local shooting range. Instead of suggesting something off the menu, S3 CEO Eric Richey introduces you to that first piece of sushi you thought you would never try in the form of a hardened steel pistol.
Eric carefully explains firearm safety and loads his pistol for me.
Push down on the pistol’s safety, aim slow and careful, breathe. Breathing is the hard part. Fire. No idea if I hit the target 10 yards away but my co-workers can somehow see that I did and offer encouragement. Not smiling outside yet because I’m all concentration but starting to feel that maybe they’re telling me the truth. Feeling better inside for sure. Shoot again. More positive feedback. I fire again. They just told me I hit the bullseye. I can’t tell but I (not so) blindly shoot again. Empty the magazine. Hand the pistol carefully back to my boss.
I move over a slot for a similar lesson with a rifle under the tutelage of Field Operations Manager Jonathan Terry.
Talk about getting a bullseye view of the team you are a part of.
Proud bosses have just introduced a new employee to their world. Longtime hunters who have done this a thousand times before and will happily do it again another thousand times. I feel like I just earned my Boy Scout merit badge in Riflery all over again. Welcome to the club, they tell me in not so many words.
-Tom Buysse, Strategic Copywriter
Interested in starting your own Company R3 Program?
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