Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hunter Edumacation Course 1

I went to the Maryland Hunter Education brought to us by the State Department of Natural Resources course this week. A class yesterday, again tonight, and one more follow up course on Sunday and a test, and that class is satisfies the safety course requirements in all 50 states and Canada if I want to get a license elsewhere. I hope I pass the test.

The course is held at an Isaak Walton League chapter and conducted by members of the local club. The instructors were stereotypical hunting types. Clearly not city bred, middle-aged men that look like they’ve been hunting since they were 8 years old, and probably were. They had an obvious happy enthusiasm for hunting and the outdoors and appeared genuinely pleased to impart their knowledge and positive experience on to others. As you’d expect, the course stressed safety above all else. They touched on the 4 rules, but they concentrated most on rule #2. Never point the muzzle at anything you wouldn’t want to destroy, mentioning THAT one several times. Which is all and good, but I like to hear all 4 rules, and the mention that bad things happen when you violate 2 of them.

They course also stressed hunting ethics, and that was also nicely treated. Very thorough. You could tell the instructors were probably a bit wilder in their youth, but had a Come-To-Jebus moment at some time in their lives that rounded over their rough edges, leaving them in a state of calm, responsible fortitude, and reflected in their conduct. This responsibility bug was contagious in their instruction, I hope. It certainly made the class enjoyable.

The class was made up of a cross section. There was a gentleman from India, and one from Africa, it seemed, from their accents. There were a LOT of kids taking the class, too, including girls. The only thing missing from the class was non-English speakers and adult women. And there were about 40 pupils, at least. Almost too crowded.

Class on the first day covered firearm types, and was a pretty basic overview. Things like the difference between Single Action and Double action and what a pump shotgun is and what a break-action shotgun is, that sort of thing. Someone with less exposure would certainly take more away from that part, but it wasn’t useless, and their WERE people with a lot less firearm experience than me. Like the kids. And the Indian gentleman. And like good instructors everywhere they tried to engage the class by asking them to answer question. My only complaint about the questions was, though I was sure I knew the answer, I wasn’t sure what answer they were looking for. But they were veterans at actually DOING that Q&A that I don’t think they would even dream of letting a pupil feel stupid about a wrong answer. I admittedly DID learn a little more about muzzleloading rifles that I didn’t know before, like how to render them safe and how to safely check if they are loaded and to safely UNLOAD one, especially after a hangfire. I hadn’t considered some of the unique permutations of the muzzleloading experience until this class.

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