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Local Alabama Hunter Education
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Local Alabama Hunter Education Certification Course
Everyone in Alabama who was born after Aug. 1, 1977 must take our state approved certification course to be able to purchase a hunting license. As a matter of fact all fish and wildlife services in all the states require some form of certification. Currently there are two ways to accomplish this, online and through a local hunter education course (traditional class) conducted by volunteer teachers. Of the two, we believe that the human taught course delivers the best bang for the buck, especially when you factor in that it is totally free. All materials and instruction comes with no charge.
In Alabama, human powered hunter safety instruction has been delivered to thousands of folks starting as far back as 1973. As of this writing there are over 700 active teachers around the state, and many belong to our AHEA organization which is a homespun autonomous effort that works closely with but is not operated by our Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. AHEA is short for Alabama Hunter Education Association and you are on our website now. We receive no pay or remuneration whatever for our service and our only perk is to see our students graduate and have confidence that they have been taught to the best of our abilities to be honest, ethical, and safe hunters.
The GREAT news is that we know for a fact that because of our teaching work and hunter certification over the years hunting accidents are down across the entire state of Alabama. More folks are getting injured falling out of their tree stands than in firearms mishaps. (We are working to reduce that with our hands on tree stand safety instruction!) We know this because we get a yearly statistical breakdown which shows this. What we don’t know is how many firearms accidents outside of hunting season that we have helped to prevent. We’re clearly in the “knowledge is power” crowd when it comes to gun and firearms issues.
Becoming An Instructor
To become an Alabama state certified hunter instructor so that you can actually teach our official hunter education program one must take and pass the regular certification course, teach at least three classes, and then take the instructor test. In the meantime all volunteers are thoroughly background checked by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to make sure we are who we say we are. That way, you the student can be confident in your instructor’s honesty and integrity.
We make no bones about it. We firmly believe that our human powered hunter safety education courses delivers the most complete educational experience for the student. One reason is that the mandatory minimum time we’ll spend together is eight hours. We get to know each other and the instructor is able to cater to the individual students. For example instructors thrill when hands shoot up in class!
While all instructors teach out of the same generous and fact filled book, class structure differs from area to area. Sometimes classes are split into two weeknights and a Saturday morning. Sometimes the whole class is done in a single Saturday. When and how the class is conducted is up to the instructors who know the local area.
How Classes Happen
So how do the hunter safety courses come about? Well, usually one instructor chooses a time, passes it along to the Department of Conservation, which makes the dates available to the public. Most often in each county there are clusters of volunteers who work together to teach a fun and instructive class for the students. They will split up the chapters in the book provided by the state and take turns. Many times the instructors will choose chapters according to their interests and experience. For example, Jack may be a whiz with black powder and Jenny may be an old pro first aid.
The result for you, the student, is that many times you get not only the benefit of the excellent (and free) training manual, but also first hand knowledge from those who know. My wife sums it up thusly. If you decide to learn how to safely jump from an airplane, who would you rather be your instructor? Someone who has only read about it or a person who has actually jumped a few times? With our local courses you get experienced teachers!
What to expect in and out of class
When class begins after the introductions the first instructor will teach a chapter from the book you have before you. The course will be taught by chapters of our book, and not necessarily in order. Many times a Conservation officer will also drop by and he may teach from the manual, or just give a general talk about his job. We all learn things from these wonderful guys, students and instructors alike. More, it is the student’s opportunity to ask questions that they may have been wondering about. The officers can and will quote chapter and verse about what is legal and what is not. We all look forward to having them to class!
Particularly if the class is split into multiple days it is a wise thing to read over the chapters as they are presented. Homework, if you will. The book itself is a very valuable resource and something you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf. Hunting and firearm safety is not rocket science, it’s just good old fashioned common sense. The neat thing about our local courses is that even old timers will learn new things, and in many cases be reminded of old things they have forgotten.
More Than Hitting The Books!
You WILL get to handle all sorts of firearms during the course. Every weapon you are likely to use or come in contact with will be on display for you to see. Chances are that you’ll get to demonstrate the safe use of them too. It’s fun! Some courses even have live fire venues. We’ll also have lots of other equipment available. My partner here locally is the guru of tree stands. Our students get to suit up and show that they can safely enter and exit. That way, they do not do unsafe things that will cause them to fall on their heads later as our instruction kicks in and they make wise choices.
On the last day, or at the end of the day key areas of the book will be reviewed and then you’ll take the test. It is very important to keep in mind that volunteers are in the business of passing students, not failing them. Also, students with handicaps or reading disabilities are given individual help. This has always been a part of our local class training.
Once you pass the test you’ll be issued a very special card that entitles you to go get that hunting license and join with the thousands of other safe hunters that have made the grade. At that point you’ll be a certified hunter! While our time as teacher and student is short, you’ll carry the lessons learned with you for a lifetime. It is is always a profound pleasure when years later a student meets their hunter safety instructor somewhere and thanks them.
Practical Field Technology
One thing to note. While I stress the hunting safety aspect of our local hunter safety course, it teaches many other things. Equal to woods safety will be your firearms safety training. It begins with stressing the importance of keeping the firearm pointed in a safe direction. You’ll also learn things like elementary first aid, proper use of tree stands, how to find your way back, and the importance of letting someone know where you are. Personally, I always stress having a lighter in the pocket…just in case.
Best of all, our local hunter safety courses are steeped in hunter ethics, for we know all the mechanical training in the world is useless unless the student practices ethics. Ethics is what a hunter does when no one is watching. This aspect alone makes the local hunter education class a no-brainer, in our opinion. Person to person training gives that hard to define “something extra” that you can’t get from an LCD screen.
For Best Experience Always Choose LOCAL
So, we of the Alabama Hunter Education Association hope that you’ll choose local. It’s not as convenient as working from a tablet on the couch, but it’s a darn sight more fun and productive. What we’ll teach you about safely pursuing the wonderful sport of hunting and sporting firearms will stick with you for a lifetime. All we ask is that you come, participate, and have ALL the fun with us. We even furnish the pencils! It’s all free!
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