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SEPTEMBER  22, 2003
GAME COMMISSION LAUNCHES PILOT HTE PROGRAM

HARRISURG - To test its new curriculum for the basic Hunter-Trapper Education Program, which is mandatory for all first-time hunters and trappers in the Keystone State, the Pennsylvania Game Commission conducted one pilot class in September and has another class scheduled for October.

"The new curriculum is designed to meet standards established by the International Hunter Education Association in 1999," said Keith Snyder, Game Commission Hunter-Trapper Education chief. "The standards define a host of knowledge-based and skill-based learning objectives for all students to achieve as part of their hunter education training. The skill-based objectives involve hands-on training with both inert and functional firearms, plus hunting-related equipment, including live-fire exercises. Hunter education training based on these standards is universally recognized throughout North America."

The pilot courses feature two different learning options. The first option requires students to attend two evening classes as part of their knowledge-based training. The second option will allow students to study independently at home. This independent study option can be done by computer on the Internet or, if the student prefers, through the use of a combination manual/workbook. About half of the students who enroll in each of these classes will be asked to participate in the independent study option.

"With today's busy schedules and demanding lifestyles, home study opportunities are a growing trend across the nation," Snyder said. "To make hunter education more accessible and user-friendly, Pennsylvania is preparing to join that trend with these new teaching options."

All students enrolled in the pilot classes will be required to attend a skills-day training session on the last day of their respective course, which is a Saturday. Students will select either a morning or afternoon session, each of which will last about five hours. Therefore, those students enrolled in "Option 1" will attend a total of three class sessions, or about 13 hours of training. Students selecting "Option 2," or the independent study choice, will only need to attend the final skills-training session on the last day of the course. Most Option 2 students will, however, spend about 8 to 10 hours of study on their own before they arrive.

At the skills-training session students will rotate through a series of stations that feature exercises designed to make them not only knowledgeable, but safe and responsible hunters and trappers. One station will focus on safe firearm handling. Another features exercises in matching ammunition to firearms, plus loading, unloading and clearing firearms. A third station provides training in safe and effective shot placement through the use of airguns fitted with lasers and a video.

The fifth station is the marksmanship and live-fire activity, where students will learn the basics of shooting a firearm. The training will use bolt-action .22 caliber rifles and will focus on basic shooting concepts. This will be the only time during the training that fully functional firearms will be used.

All students must demonstrate their newly learned skills at the end of each station. Also, at the conclusion of their skills-training session, students will need to pass a written exam designed to measure their knowledge from their previous study or training. Students who successfully complete the course of instruction will be issued a training certificate that will enable them to purchase their hunting or furtaker license.

"The new curriculum, skills-training exercises and the independent study options should provide a refreshing change and modernization to hunter-trapper education in Pennsylvania," Snyder said. "The next step of this development process is planned for 2004, when six counties across the state will offer this new format and curriculum as an extended pilot. If all goes well with the pilot efforts, final, statewide implementation is anticipated in 2005."

The first of two pilot classes was held at the Mt. Holly Fish and Game the week of Sept. 15. The second pilot class is scheduled for Oct. 8, 9 and 11 at the Game Commission's Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Ave., just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81.

For a county-by-county listing of basic HTE courses, visit the Game Commission's website www.pgc.state.pa.us, click on Education and then choose Hunter-Trapper Education course schedules by county.

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