Nature Article: New methods set out for hunter ed classes

Changes are coming to Arizona Hunter Education, both in how people sign up and how the class will be taught.

For starters, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is adopting a system in which the customer signs up for an offered class, and that information is sent to the chief instructor of that class. It should cut down on a lot of phone calls and mistakes made on registration cards. In the past, instructors spent a lot of time getting folks registered before the first class started.

In addition, instructor Johnnie Hoeft and I had a meeting in Phoenix with Kellie Tharp and Denise Raum, the top two ladies in charge of the Game and Fish Department's Hunter Education programs.

Among other things, we discussed what I see as a trend toward lower final test scores by some students. As it turns out, it's not a Mohave County or even a state of Arizona issue - it's a nationwide trend.

We brought back suggestions and ideas and shared them with members of the Kingman Hunter Education team during a recent meeting.

We have been given permission to try a couple of pilot programs and institute some new procedures while teaching.

For one thing, about every 30 minutes or so we'll try to let the students have "hands on" time utilizing the concepts we are teaching. Students might show the instructors the parts of a firearm, detail the difference between antlers and horns, demonstrate zones of fire or show how to carry firearms in different field situations.

Our instructors are always looking for ways to make teaching hunter education more exciting and enjoyable for students, and this teaching methodology sounds like a good idea.

We are also going to try to shorten the current 35-hour class to about 28 hours. Instead of five days, students may have to attend just four days of class.

We will start this new program in our next resident class - which, due to fall hunting seasons, may not be until next spring.

The bottom line is the department and the teams of volunteers who teach the classes will try to improve the service to you, the customer who wants to learn about hunter education.

The department is still offering online classes and in the future there will be separate classes for youth and adults.

The "one size fits all" concept for online classes hasn't worked out well in the past.

The issue for online classes in Mohave County is there aren't enough instructors to conduct the field day that is required as part of that course.

Jim Rich is one of the chief instructors for hunter education in Mohave County and he is constantly looking for people who would like to volunteer and take the new instructor training.

Rich has said that becoming a certified instructor is easy, fun and very rewarding. Plus, new instructors won't have to be involved in every class. If enough instructors are found, Rich said that participation could be as little as just one class a year.

Rich can be contacted at (928) 444-3397 or by email at Richhome@citlink.net.

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I would like to say thanks here for all those who have called, emailed or texted since seeing the story that by Miner reporter Kim Steele about my induction into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame. Also, a big thank you to Kim!

I would just add that on many of those hunts where kids were assisted in the Hunt Of A Lifetime sponsored events, it wasn't just me out there. There have been many, many locals who also helped out. Scott Snay, Mike Cobb, Jay Chan, Dan Reed, Page McDonald and Johnnie Hoeft are some who come to mind.

It really is and will always be a team effort to make those kids' dreams come true.