by Phil Phillips - Thursday, April 28, 2022
I got my Colorado hunter safety card around the time I was in 7th grade. Decades later, I know how lucky I was that my grandfather encouraged my love of the outdoors and drove me to hunter education class after school. I’d share what I learned about hunting and firearm safety all the way home and ask more questions. But today, not as many kids come from families with hunting backgrounds. And those who do often face scheduling conflicts with taking a hunter education course because their parents work, or their interest in hunting competes with participating in sports and other activities. Fortunately, there is good news to share for aspiring hunters in my home state.
On Thursday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed important bipartisan hunter education legislation into law in the form of House Bill 22-1168, Public School Hunter Education Seventh Grade Course | Colorado General Assembly permitting public schools statewide to provide, but not mandate, a 10-hour hunter education course to seventh grade students.Not only will the course open more kids’ eyes to the role of hunting in wildlife conservation and give them the skills to be safe and enjoy a lifetime of outdoor pursuits, but it will give those with an interest in hunting the opportunity to try something they might not otherwise be exposed to or get to experience. The act takes effect as 12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of the 90-day period after final adjournment of the Colorado General Assembly (CGA).
According to the CGA website, 2022a_1168_signed.pdf (colorado.gov) House Bill 22-1168 allows local education providers, upon entering into an agreement with an individual or entity that offers hunter education courses certified by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), to provide a hunter education course to all seventh graders. The course must be taught by a division-certified instructor and must satisfy the requirements of a hunter education course certified by the division with the exception that hands-on activities are not required. A parent or legal guardian must provide permission for a student to participate in any hands-on activities offered through the course.
As an editorial in the Denver Gazette explained, EDITORIAL: Hunter ed — for safer schools and kids | Editorials | denvergazette.com both students and their parents may take the course at their local public or charter school because the bill stipulates that schools can receive gifts, grants or private donations sufficient to cover the cost. “Parents can elect if they’d like for their child to take the course with hands-on activities—such as an optional live-fire exercise—or not,” it noted. “Either way, these 12- and 13-year-olds will learn about hunter ethics, conservation, gun safety and basic first aid in a proper setting. For example, CPW has gone out of its way to prepare a teaching kit complete with inert firearms for use in the hands-on portion of the course.”
The NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) was quick to thank Rep. Hugh McKean and other legislators who voted in favor of HB 22-1168. NRA-ILA | Colorado: Governor Signs Hunter Education Legislation into Law (nraila.org) It also thanked the many NRA members and Second Amendment advocates who contacted their lawmakers in support of this hunter education legislation. We NRA members continue to accomplish important things because we stand united on our core freedoms.
For more on the NRA, helping Americans of all ages to experience hunting and be safe outdoors is precisely why it debuted its free online NRA Hunter Education Course in 2017 in conjunction with the state of Florida. Material is presented in easy-to-access components and is available for students when and where they have time to access it. The no-cost option removes the sometimes-prohibitive cost barrier of other online courses, encouraging new hunters to take the first step and making it easier for seasoned hunters to revisit material. Now available in 12 states, the free online course is one of multiple safety, education and training opportunities the NRA provides to the hunting community. For more information on the NRA course, click here. Hunters Education State List - NRA (yourlearningportal.com)
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