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Hunters’ education targets young people
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 12:31

There are hundreds of firearm accidents across the county every year, often fatal and often claiming children as the victims.

In many cases these tragedies are simply the result of a lack of education about the proper use of firearms, and by extension, a lack of respect. A gun or rifle is a powerful tool and a proper understanding of how to handle one is absolutely essential, especially in Arizona, where gun ownership is common, and particularly in the Verde Valley, just a stone’s throw from many popular hunting spots.

The earlier a person learns how to use a gun properly, the better, said Kevin Presmyk, a local hunter concerned about safety.

It’s why Presmyk is being joined by other volunteer instructors next month to teach a hunter education and firearm safety class at Camp Verde Middle School. Families are encouraged to attend the class, aimed at young hunters between ages 10 and 14. Passing the class or a similar safety course is required for that age group to be able to hunt legally, Presmyk said.

Local pastor Mike Garrison will also be instructing the class.

Garrison said he has been shooting guns since around the time he was 6 years old, and always had proper supervision and education.

“I was brought up with guns,” Garrison said. “But even if a family isn’t gun owners, basic firearm safety is still extremely important.”

Garrison said while there might not be guns at home, a parent can’t control what situations a child may encounter, for instance, at a neighbor’s house.

The prevalence of firearm ownership is one of the reasons Garrison said Arizona has a good track record with firearm safety overall.

“It’s because we do take safety so seriously,” Garrison said. “In my opinion, learning how to handle a firearm is like learning about music or a foreign language. The eariler you start, the easier it is to learn.”

Of course, the class is a hunter education class, not just a firearm safety class.

Presmyk said in addition to the proper handling of firearms, students will learn about hunting techniques, wilderness survival, how to handle game and many other essentials for hunters of any age.

Presmyk has been teaching the class for 25 years, and said it’s held every January and August. Presmyk said the class has a limit of 30 students. The class will meet at Camp Verde Middle School every Monday and Thursday between Jan. 4 and 28, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. A mandatory field day is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16. Attendance is required to pass the class.

In order to be certified, a student can only have one absence. The cost is $7 per person or $15 for a family. Call Presmyk at 567-0023 for more information.

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