I was very intrigued by an article I read in the St. Paul Pioneer Press Sunday. It described a new way for youth to take their state-mandated firearms safety training — online.
That’s right. Now, youth can use their computers to learn about guns and how to handle them safely. This was a surprising development to me, but I guess I should have seen it coming. People of all ages, especially, kids, are using computers so much that it was inevitable that something like this would become a reality.
The course is offered via a website called HunterExam.com. Youth can go on the site and complete the classroom portion of the course. They still will have to take part in a field day that includes various demonstrations, exercises and .22-caliber rifle shooting. And, like the current classroom courses, they will have to pass an exam.
Although the course currently is available online, it is still under review by the DNR and won’t be accepted until approved by the state’s fisheries and wildlife management agency. According to the Pioneer Press article, it is expected to be approved sometime this spring.
It’s an interesting way to learn firearms safety, and I’m very inclined to try it with my son, William, who is about to turn 12. He won’t need it for his spring turkey hunt in April — his first ever — so I have some time to weigh my options.
One thing I like is the convenience. He will be able to work on his lessons whenever he wants to, and he can stay home to do it. Plus, I will be able to be more a part of it, as I will supplement the lessons with some hands-on activities with guns, ammo and other hunting paraphernalia. For dads who know something about firearms and hunting, this offers a chance to share that knowledge with their children.
I had the chance to teach firearms safety to my two older children six years ago, but I haven’t taught a class since, and thus lost my certification. I had been considering getting re-certified in order to teach William, but, now, I won’t have to. Yet, I will be able to be just as involved in his learning process as I would have as a certified instructor.
I think this approach has both merit and potential. It takes advantage of a very important tool all youth use nowadays. So, I say, why not? While William and I work on this task together, I will be able to teach him more about firearms, and, hopefully, he’ll be able to teach me more about computers.