There are three main reasons why hunter education should be taught to children in schools. 1. Children learn a healthy respect for firearms that will help them as they get older. 2. Children learn where food comes from. 3. Children learn how to source food for themselves.
Thankfully, many politicians around the world agree and are introducing legislation that will allow hunter education programs to be introduced in schools.
Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker recently signed new legislation that allows schools the option to build hunter education and hunting safety programs into their daily curriculum.
These days, there are very few things that get bipartisan support in politics, however this legislation is strongly supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
In February, Democratic Representative Monica Bristow introduced the bill, saying “hunting is still very popular, and students can learn about hunting as a sport. Hunters have respect for guns. If people have to do the education course to obtain a hunting license, why not be able to do this in school?”
Republican Senator Jason Plummer agrees. “Students who are exposed to lessons in hunting safety have a greater chance of respecting firearms and using them properly for the rest of their lives.”
The curriculum does not put firearms into children’s hands, but teaches them basic firearm safety, instructs them on laws governing ownership and transportation of firearms, as well as hunting ethics and responsibility, first aid, wildlife conservation and even provides information on bow hunting.
Other US states also offer some form of hunter education in their curriculum.
Two districts in Iowa have just introduced mandatory hunter safety courses as part of their physical education program for Years 7 and 8. While there is an option for parents to withdraw their children, not one parent has yet taken advantage of the option.
South Dakota has also started offering hunter education as part of their physical education program.
Across the northern border, a Canadian school has taken the program one step further, taking their students into the field to hunt animals and then teaching them how to break down and utilise the meat they hunt.
Students from Porter Creek Secondary School in the wilds of the Yukon harvested 680kgs of bison that they hunted, field dressed and cooked themselves, with teachers telling children it was okay to experience mixed emotions while hunting and processing wild game meats.
In the UK, an Eastbourne school is teaching disadvantaged children how to hunt, fish and survive in the wilderness.
Children learn to hunt, field dress and butcher pigeons, rabbits and even water buffalo. They learn how to build fires, cook meat, and even how to fashion bows and arrows from bits of wood they find lying around.
While many parents would shudder at the thought of their children handling firearms, knives and fire in school, headteacher, Mike Fairclough, wearing a full length bear skin coat, believes that the most dangerous thing you can do to a child is to not expose them to an element of risk and danger.
The proof is in the pudding, Fairclough’s school gets the best exam results in the area and scores consistently above the national average in academics.
Hunter education in schools is certainly something we would like to see in Australia. As the gap between city and bush grows wider, young Australians have become increasingly disconnected from the source of their food.
Not only do we have kids believing that ‘meat comes from the supermarket‘, we have adults who have no idea that hunting plays a crucial role in protecting crops and livestock to ensure food makes it to their table.
While shooting and archery have long been available as sports in Australian schools, the focus has been on target shooting, not hunting – probably why Australia has done so well in the Olympics. But even this is under fire, with gun control activists lobbying the Australian government to ban all shooting sports in schools.
Thankfully, COVID-19 is shifting the goal posts and removing the blinkers from urban populations. With food production interrupted, and panic buying emptying supermarket shelves, people are seeing for the first time how fragile our food supplies really are. And as a result, they are looking to their hunter/gatherer pasts.
With hunting experiencing a revival of interest, now might be a good time to lobby the government to allow hunter education to be taught in Australian schools.
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