According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, some 13.7 million people engaged in hunting either professionally or recreationally in 2011. These hunters generated more than $33.7 billion in revenues for the industry. With numbers like these, it's hardly a surprise that many people are interested in being field testers for hunting equipment. Although you can't make a living as a field tester, the routine form of compensation in the industry is free or discounted merchandise in exchange for your feedback.
Contact Manufacturers Directly
Reach out to companies that manufacture the products you want to test. Many accept resumes in the fall. While acceptance as a field tester is far from automatic, the more experience you have as a hunter, the more likely you are to find success. Companies want to know that the hunters who are field testing their equipment are highly competent and properly licensed. Start by requesting just one piece of gear. Offer to videotape yourself using it or generate a summary of the product's pros and cons. Smaller companies trying to increase market share may be most interested, particularly if you have some cache as a hunter.
Become a Freelance Writer
Hunters who are both well-read and well-written are much more likely to be approached as field testers by manufacturers or third parties. Offer to write hunting-related articles for "Field & Stream," "Outdoor Life," "Bowhunter" or "Whitetail Journal" to get your name out there, even if your first few assignments are unpaid. Select topics that show off your areas of expertise. As your writing credentials grow, so will the frequency of opportunities and the value of items you are asked to test.
Start a Local Show, Website or Blog
Create a hunting website or blog that focuses on hunting gear and invite participation from other hunters. Or produce a television show about hunting for a local cable access channel. The sheer number of hunting and fishing shows on cable TV stations demonstrates the high demand for media coverage of the sport. As you develop notoriety and gain more viewers, your chances of being asked by a manufacturer to test a product increase dramatically.
Attend Shows and Conventions
Major hunting events, such as the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo or the Annual Northeast Fishing & Hunting Show, offer hunters the chance to interact with retailers, manufacturers, brand promoters and other outdoor enthusiasts. Demonstrate your passion for the sport and knowledge of gear with a personable, proactive approach. Ask booth attendants about field testing opportunities, and network with other hunters who may be connected to manufacturers.
Contact Third-Party Organizations
A number of organizations offer the chance to field test equipment, including Field & Stream, the North American Hunting Club and BackpackGearTest. Typically, you are asked to fill out an application detailing your interests and skill level. Some organizations use a point system to determine who is selected to test which products. You may earn points for testing certain products or participating in online activities, for example. This is a good way for new testers to start, as all experience levels are welcome.