The first hunter’s safety course to be offered at UW-Madison will be held in February, following an increased demand by students to learn how to properly use a firearm.
Members of the Badger Hunting Club who have become certified hunter education instructors, will run a six-hour course on firearm and hunting safety that is open to all UW-Madison students. The course will teach students safe firearm handling and effective hunting techniques. Department of Natural Resources personnel will also be present during the course.
Hunting Club President Jace Steward said that many people who join the Badger Hunting Club have little to no experience with hunting, therefore it is the organization's responsibility to educate members on how to be safe when using a firearm and hunting an animal.
There will be no active weapons used during the training, but students will be able to get hands-on experience with inoperable firearms.
Steward said using inoperable firearms is the safest way to teach others about gun safety. He realizes people may be apprehensive about hunting due to fear of firearms, especially in light of recent national fatal shootings. However, he said the organization tries to combat concerns by providing information and demonstrating safe gun handling.
“[The Badger Hunting Club] makes sure there is no potential for risk during this course,” Steward said. “We are teaching safe handling and knowledge about firearms and hunting, and we believe that will promote a safe environment when it comes to firearms.”
In addition to learning how to use a firearm, the course will teach students the proper steps to take after shooting an animal, which includes how to care for that animal.
Steward said a common stereotype of hunters is that they don’t care for animals or the environment, when in reality many hunters have a deep passion for wildlife. He said the North American Wildlife Conservation Model is benefited by hunters because it is heavily dependent on funds generated through hunting licenses.
“Hunting allows people to become active participants in nature, rather than observers,” Steward said. “When there’s less hunters going out every year, that is less funds generated for wildlife conservation.”
While the course is intended for members of the organization who plan to obtain a hunter’s license, Steward said the course could be beneficial for students who wish to learn how to safely handle a firearm.
“We try to expose UW-Madison students to the importance and benefits of hunting as well as educating and creating new hunters,” Steward said.