Arizona’s Online Hunter Safety Course Celebrates First Year
Participation indicates program accommodates future hunters
PHOENIX – Time constraints and a reliance on technology have impacted all aspects of society, and the educational arena is no exception. Internet-based education programs—including hunter education—have evolved to better accommodate students’ schedules and learning needs in today’s fast-paced world.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department introduced its online hunter education program one year ago to provide a convenient option for students unable to take the traditional classroom program.
Since its introduction last August, 940 students have successfully completed the self-paced study portion of the online course. However, to become fully certified, students must also successfully pass a mandatory “hands-on field day” within 90 days of completing the online course work. To date, 532 people have done so and have become fully certified. That number is expected to increase as temperatures cool for the outdoor field days.
“We are extremely happy with the early success of the online course,” says Assistant Director of Information and Education Ty Gray. “We feel this is a great tool to teach residents and nonresidents about hunting safely in Arizona.”
While the online course is new, hunter education in Arizona has been around for more than 50 years and is considered one of the best in the nation. The traditional classroom course continues to certify approximately 4,000 students each year.
“The testimonials we have gotten indicate that this is what the public needed to accommodate their schedules and still learn about hunting safely in this fast-paced, technology driven society,” states Ed Huntsman, conservation education program manager. “The good news is we were able to do this and maintain safety as the number one priority. We still require students to attend a mandatory hands-on field day to demonstrate safe firearm handling skills and their understanding of the course material to certified instructors.”
“Our hunter education program also provides useful information for non-hunters as well. Many of the skills taught will enhance anyone’s ability to observe the beauty of Arizona’s wildlife,” Huntsman adds. “The curriculum includes wildlife identification, survival skills, the importance of habitat, and the history of early conservationists like President Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold.”
Due to the success of the program, starting Sept. 20 there will be an online field day taking place the third Saturday of each month at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in the conservation education building.
Arizona has an excellent hunter safety record. Even though hunter education is only required for youths age 10, 11, 12 and 13 that want to hunt big game, there are only an average of three hunting accidents per year, and fatalities from hunting accidents are even rarer.
Moreover, nearly every accident recorded could have been avoided by observing the fundamental lessons taught in hunter education, which include wearing hunter orange clothing and following the “tab plus one” (T.A.B. +1) rule: T=Treat every gun as if it were loaded; A=Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction; B=Be sure of your target and beyond; +1=Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
Arizona offers several options for taking hunter education courses. In addition to the new online course, there is a 7- to 10-hour introductory classroom course, the traditional 20-hour basic course, and the 28-hour combination course which includes bowhunting education, all of which require successfully completing the mandatory hands-on field day. For a list of available classes, visit www.azgfd.gov/education, and then click on the “hunter education” link.