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home : columnists : columnists June 22, 2017

2/6/2017 4:00:00 AM
4-H Hunter Education takes away the curiosity
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonBill Huff coordinates 4-H Hunter Education.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Bill Huff coordinates 4-H Hunter Education.

By Betsy Reason

When kids can learn about, touch and see firearms close up, it takes away their curiosity.

That's the point of a Hamilton County 4-H Hunter Education class that started last week. Parents and 4-H'ers wanting to learn more about firearms filled nearly every seat at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds' Annex building.

It was the first of a five-session, 10-hour class, in which those who complete the class, and pass a test at the end of the program, receive their Department of Natural Resources' Hunter Education certification, which is required for those, born after Dec. 31, 1986, who are applying for a Indiana Hunting License.

The instructors - Noblesville's John Mollet, 56, and Bill Huff, 71 - are both hunters and gun-safety advocates who annually teach the class to kids who want to learn.

There's no horse play, no Facebooking or texting on cell phones, and no tardiness or absenteeism. They make that very clear from the start.

Once they get all of the rules out of the way, they start talking about the parts of a gun and about safety.

"What's a safety?" they asked the kids, whose hands quickly flew up all around the room. Each had a different answer, but all were correct.

"You've been in my class before?" Huff asked, again and again, as kids demonstrated their unusual wealth of knowledge as the instructors doled out questions in the class.

He likes teaching the kids. "When they come to class next week, we'll bring the firearms in. Just watch their faces. Some have never even seen these firearms, much less held 'em or fired them....The more they get ahold of these firearms, the attitude gets away that 'I want to get ahold of one....you kind of take the curiosity out of it," said Huff, a Virginia native who coordinates the class.

While the class is offered to 4-H'ers in the Shooting Sports projects, any 4-H'er can take the class, which costs $5, plus $25 to join 4-H. The 4-H Shooting Sports project teaches the safe use and how to properly handle firearms and bows on the shooting range, in the field and to teach home firearms responsibility.

My 10-year-old daughter took a liking to the 4-H Archery project two years ago, her first year in the 4-H Shooting Sports program, which also offers Muzzleloading, Rifle, Shotgun and Pistol (restricted to Grades 6-12) projects. 4-H'ers meet and practice their sport at Noblesville's Fox Prairie Gun Club's shooting range.

If you missed the first Hunter Ed class, put it on your calendar for February 2018. To learn more about the 4-H program, visit https://extension.purdue.edu/Hamilton. This year's 4-H Fair is July 20-24.

-Contact me at Betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

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