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Safety class mandatory for Colorado hunters

Hunting in Colorado takes more than buying gear and hitting the high country. Safety is always the most important job.According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, everyone who applies for a hunting license must successfully complete an approved hunter education course prior to shooting game.Locals have an opportunity to obtain certification by attending a free safety course Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2, at the Silt firehouse. Course times are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.Courses are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, call 976-2036.Division of Wildlife Ranger Brian Gray of the Rifle DOW office will instruct both sessions of the course.Hunter safety classes are held annually throughout Colorado. Since the state legislature passed the certification requirement in 1970, more than 600,000 students have taken and passed the course.The purpose of the course is to teach safe, responsible firearm handling in the field, the vehicle and the home. The course consists of lectures, hands-on activities and videos. Subjects covered include firearms and ammunition, firearm safety, shooting fundamentals, and firearm and wildlife laws.Fatalities and hunter accidents, the main reason for the course, have fallen dramatically in four decades. Prior to the bill’s passage, in the 1960s, Colorado hunters averaged nine fatal and 24 non-fatal accidents per year.In the latest figures, spanning 2000-2004, Colorado hunters averaged 1.6 fatal and 10 non-fatal hunting accidents annually.Students who attend the entire class and pass the final exam and the “live fire” exercise are issued a hunter education card.Instructors are certified by the DOW and have gone through a background check before they are accepted for class training. After successfully completing training and testing, potential instructors are required to do student teaching with other previously certified instructors.While this weekend’s safety class is the only one scheduled to be offered in the area in April, hunter education classes are held throughout the year. To find additional classes, go to http://www.wildlife.state.co.us, then hit the “Course Calendar” icon.


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