Even in wild areas, more and more land is being fenced off from the public. In upper Michigan, for instance, the closure of land to public hunting increased 326% between 1929 and 1960. The ORRRC study on hunting notes, "How nearly complete the process of closure is in some [ Michigan] counties is shown by the following: in Montmorency the closure is complete; in Alcona privately owned wildland is 66.4% of the total wildland and 56.2% is fenced.... Such counties have large acreages of privately owned wild-land, but only about 10 to 20% is open to the public." The trend now in hunting is toward admission-fee preserves. In addition to standard American game, the hunter is offered the chance to bag an exotic, such as an oryx or Barbary sheep.
Still and all, firearms and ammunition sales are expected to increase from the present $283 million to $325 million by 1974 because, Economist Snyder believes, of added interest in trap and skeet shooting. There is also rapidly growing interest in archery, which should swell from $38 million in sales to $87 million 10 years hence. Archers can often hunt where riflemen may not; moreover, archery has gained impetus with the opening of indoor target ranges.
Camping will continue to surge in the next 10 years. Here the family ethic is deeply involved. Sociologist Goode noted that most of the 10.4 million Americans who went camping in 1962 did so in family units. The trend in camping now is toward more luxurious equipment, and the only danger Economist Snyder sees is that camping "might be carried to the point where there is a backlash—simply because people might tire of carrying so much capital goods into the woods."
Winter sports should continue to grow. Snyder is particularly enthusiastic about hockey. "I expect a sharp increase," he says. "The game has color and speed and if you're interested in a little brutality it'll give you that, too." Skiing will change more in terms of facilities than in terms of the sport itself. As in boat hulls, no further development in ski design is anticipated, and the skis of the future will look much as they do today. The materials, however, will change. Just as hickory gave way to metals, so metals are giving way to plastic. One Austrian firm, Kneissl, has developed a plastic ski—made out of the same material, the firm says, that is used in rockets. Another plastic test ski took 28 million flexings and broke only under a one-and-a-half-ton stress.
The major changes in skiing will be the resorts themselves. The old joke about building an indoor mountain for skiing is reality—there is such a mountain in Japan, which has the world's largest ski population, and a similar project is being drawn up for southern California. Sepp Ruschp of Stowe, Vt. talks about villages springing up at the base of mountains hundreds of miles from cities, all-weather link-belt escalators carrying skiers on short lifts, huge triple-chair lifts and gondolas carrying thousands of skiers up to the peaks, dozens of trails of different kinds, huge machines that are able to till packed snow the way a farmer tills his land. That is Ruschp's conservative view of the short-range future. And, indeed, much of it is happening already. "No one can even dream what skiing will be like in 50 years," he says.
No one but Walter Schoenknecht of Mount Snow, perhaps. Schoenknecht still hopes that the Atomic Energy Commission will let him use nuclear devices to retailor the Vermont terrain. In the meantime, he is going ahead with immediate plans that smack of science fiction. Mount Snow is planning 21 double-chair lifts, six aerial tramways (some, a thousand feet above the ground, that will make peak-to-peak spans) and six gondolas. "Huge capacity is what everyone will try for," says Schoenknecht. "There will be a tremendous growth in skiing as people have more leisure time and the interstate highways are completed. The national average shows a growth of 10% or 15% yearly in the ski business, but I think that is conservative. It may be 20% a year.
"There will be more families skiing, including school-age children who will come to spend entire vacations. Winter-type chalet homes for weekends and vacations in summer are springing up, and entire villages are developing around ski areas. All kinds of supporting facilities for summer and winter recreation will develop. Golf courses, tennis courts, horseback riding, swimming, lakes—all will be developed or created." Schoenknecht is already developing six independent areas for skiing at Mount Snow. Five new hotels, complete with golf courses, are being built, and Schoenknecht is designing a "fantastic fountain" that will ice the shores of a 12-acre lake. He figures he has moved 100,000 cubic yards of earth just to improve one ski basin. More land is waiting to be moved; all he needs is that atom bomb.
Atom bomb or not, science continues to help spread the range of sport. Here the achievements of the space industry have great relevance. The Manned Spacecraft Center has devised a liquid-cooled thermal undersuit that enables the wearer to withstand extremes of temperature either in water or on land. Dr. John Billingham, who helped develop the suit, spent an hour in 27� water and emerged without a goose bump. Last July, Racing Driver Bobby Isaac wore the suit in the Daytona 400, in which he finished second to A.J. Foyt. The temperature inside the car soared to a blistering 140�, but Isaac was not in the least fatigued. The suit should reduce late-race wrecks that occur when a driver loses his alertness. Another scientist at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Matt Radnofsky, has designed a life raft for astronauts that may become the fisherman's or duck hunter's favorite. It is a one-man raft of aluminum and nylon that is just about impossible to capsize. Un-inflated, it is cigarette-pack size. This raft can be marketed commercially for less than $40. Already the creams, ointments and repellents used by NASA are available to the public. Specially developed for Project Mercury was a compact water purifier weighing only eight ounces. It is now on the market for $13.95.
Meanwhile the plastic industry has moved ahead with radical developments of its own, such as Corfam, devised by Du Pont. A man-made poromeric material with one million pores to the square inch, it has the apparent virtue of not wearing out or scuffing. Corfam shoes and other products have been so successful that Du Pont's main problem is not in finding new uses for the material but in geting enough of the stuff into production to meet the demand. Du Pont has already supplied sporting-goods manufacturers with Corfam for testing baseballs, footballs and softballs. Corfam also is being tested in golf-club and tennis-racket grips, and a "successful" jockey (not otherwise identified) used a Corfam saddle for 200 races. The jock spoke highly of Corfam's quality before sending the saddle back to the lab, where it was torn apart and analyzed. Similar analyses were conducted on Corfam baseball shoes worn by the Phillies during the 1963 season. ( Bob Carpenter, the Phillies' owner, is a member of the Du Pont family.) Corfam golf shoes are on sale in shops, and they show a remarkable resistance to wetting and cracking. Their light weight is another plus. The day seems not far off when a jockey rides hell-for-Corfam, or a halfback totes the Corfam for a touchdown or a hitter belts the Corfam out of the old ball park (unless the park has a lid on it).
As man seeks to control the elements within the artificially created environment of his clothing, he will also be able to travel easily into regions that cannot now be reached by standard means of transportation. There are any number of devices already in use—ranging from the Bell Aero-systems Company's rocket belt (page 47) to Francis Rogallo's "Flying Handkerchief," developed for NASA—but the one that gives the most practical promise is the gyrocopter, the "flying motorcycle" (page 48). "It's here!" exults Igor Bensen of the Bensen Aircraft Corp., Raleigh, N.C. "It can be flown anywhere. It's the average man's flying machine." Last July 4 Bensen staged the annual meeting of the Popular Rotocraft Association, and more than 700 gyrocopter enthusiasts attended. Thirty of them had built their own machines, and officials of the Federal Aviation Agency were awed. The FAA has issued special licensing requirements for the gyrocopter, simply three takeoffs and three landings. (But the FAA also casts a dim eye on the somewhat starry-eyed notion that it can be flown anywhere. There are rules.)