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Hunter’s Safety Program in Silver Bay Trains New Generation of Hunters

It was a blustery morning on Friday, September 16th as around 25 young people arrived at the Silver Bay Recreation building to complete their hunter’s safety training with a field day.

Traditionally, a hunter’s safety class lasts for four days with a total of 12 to 16 hours of instruction. However, Silver Bay has a hybrid program which requires that participants first take an online hunter’s safety course. The students then bring a completion form to the field day, which begins with a three hour firearm familiarization class and ends with the students visiting the gun range to practice their shooting.

Back in 1955, concern over hunting injuries and fatalities led to the creation of a hunter education program in Minnesota. An effort was made to promote safe firearms handling. In 1955 and 1956 alone 13,700 students were certified through the program.

Over the years, the hunter’s education course has grown to include bowhunting, tree stand, and muzzleloader safety. An emphasis has also been placed on hunter conduct and ethics. Other contributors to a decline in firearms accidents have included the addition of hunter’s safety courses for adults and the blaze orange law. The years 1998 and 2004 happily reported no fatalities during hunting.

 From 1955 to 1990 a firearm safety certificate was required for youth ages 12 to 15 who wished to purchase a big game license. However, 1990 saw the passage of a Minnesota law requiring everyone born after December 31, 1979 to successfully complete a firearms safety course in order to purchase a hunting license.

Over 4,000 volunteer instructors trained by the DNR teach approximately 23,000 students each year. 2008 marked the one-millionth student to complete hunter’s safety. The DNR says, “Volunteers are essential to make this program work. Without volunteers this program would not be successful.”

Silver Bay Chief of Police Cole Ernest said of the class on Friday, “The day was very wet and windy, but the class was very responsive and respectful. We try to give the kids as much time to familiarize with each type of firearm so they can safely handle and operate each type of firearm.”

Thank you to the volunteers, DNR, and law enforcement officers that made this class possible. Best wishes to the young hunters for a safe and profitable hunting season.

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