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Students attend hunter safety class. Stevan Bennett | Collegian

Successful passage of a hunter safety course is required to hunt legally in any of the 50 states, and for the first time in recent history, Hillsdale College is offering a way to obtain that certification.
On Nov. 7, around 20 participants gathered at the John A. Halter Shooting Sports Center for the field day portion of the class. Upon passing the final exam, students received their hunter education cards, which allows them to register for hunting licenses in any state.
“We got a really good response,” said Joey Kellam, associate director of security and the instructor of the program. “Hunting is a focal part of the community and of the shooting sports program, and there was definitely a need for it.”
Kellam said the course was born out of student interest.
“A request went through the deans’ office by a couple of students who were interested in hunting locally, but hadn’t been able to take a hunter safety class,” he said. “Then they contacted myself and Mr. Spieth about the possibility of putting one on.”
Before attending the field-day portion of the program with Kellam and shooting center range master Bartley Spieth, students completed an online class teaching them the basics of hunting and firearm safety. Although the class lasted several hours, it was an important part of the process, according to junior Caleb McNitt.
“I feel like I gained a lot of knowledge about hunting as a whole,” he said. “And I gained a newfound respect for how much actually goes into the sport.”
Participants also heard from Hillsdale County Department of Natural Resources Officer Chris Reynolds at the field day, learning about the laws and ethics of hunting.
For McNitt, the class was a welcome opportunity.
“My family has always been very into hunting, and I’ve always kind of been the odd one out,” he said. “It’s a good way for me to get closer with my family, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.”
In addition to allowing students to register for hunting licenses, having a hunter education card will also give local students the chance to join the various shooting teams that have been started at schools. Eathan and Khalea Westfall, age 12 and 15 respectively, are students in the Reading School District and graduates of the program. Now that they are safety certified, they plan on joining their school’s trap shooting team, which is in its second season.
Khalea Westfall said she chose trap shooting over other sports because it offers a unique opportunity to block everything out and focus on a singular thing.
Spieth said the shooting center plans to host another course in the future, and he even plans to become certified through the DNR to instruct the course. Additionally, he said the center is always looking to add new opportunities in which students have expressed interest.
Spieth suggested that even those not interested in hunting consider taking part in the course in the future.
“Many people don’t own a firearm because they are scared,” he said. “Anytime you can teach those fundamental safety and marksmanship skills, it can break down the barriers of the fear of the unknown.”
For anybody who may take part in the course in the future, Eathan Westfall has a piece of advice on how to make the most of the course and be prepared for the exam.
“It’s best if you take lots of notes.”

  • Jennifer Melfi

    This is an excellent collaboration