Your students are potentially new to the outdoors and even more likely to be new to firearms and knives. This lack of familiarity increases the likelihood that they will be apprehensive and extremely cautious. However, because of their lack of familiarity, you will certainly mean you will have to start with basic firearm, outdoor and cold weather safety rules.
We recommend that you discuss your firearm training practices with you agency hunter education administrator, even if you do not plan on incorporating a “full” hunter education course into your program. Many programs have elected not to do so and have utilized their “Apprentice License” option for participants to obtain a license. The advantage of this strategy is that more time can be devoted to specific knowledge and skills related to actually hunting. Focusing on the actual hunt will, theoretically, give participants more confidence, a better exposure to all aspects of hunting, and help them make a more informed decision on whether they want to continue to hunt. The downside to this strategy is that most participants will have to go back and take a hunter education course at some time in the future. Incorporating a formal hunter education course into the program content will take some additional time. It will also require that an authorized hunter education instructor. However, you probably already have an authorized hunter education instructor in your instructor group.
Another option for including hunter education in you course is to utilize on-line courses. In some instances, programs have made the successful completion of an on-line hunter education course as a pre-requisite for participation. In other situations, completion of an on-line hunter education course has been a “homework” assignment. Contact your state hunter education course administrator for specifics about apprentice licenses, hunter educations deferrals, and on-line courses.
See the International Hunter Education Association – USA, National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Best Practices Workbook for Hunting and Shooting Recruitment and Retention, and National Hunting & Shooting Sports Action Plan (Second Content Draft) for additional information on hunter education programs.