OLYMPIA - With the number of would-be students outstripping available space in some state hunter education classes, first-time hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 should move quickly to secure a spot for the required training.
To help meet the demand, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is actively seeking additional instructors and training facilities and offers an alternative home study program.
The department offers more than 400 hunter education classes statewide. Successful completion of a hunter education course is a state requirement for hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 who are seeking their first license. The classes, which average 17 hours in length, are taught by volunteer instructors with materials provided by WDFW. The program is funded through federal excise taxes on the sale of firearms, ammunition and some archery equipment.
Although the number of classroom slots has traditionally been sufficient to serve the number of novice hunters, demand for the training has surged dramatically in the past 18 months, according to Mik Mikitik, WDFW hunter education coordinator.
"We will add close to 100 new volunteer instructors this year, but many of those will be working to assist in existing classes," Mikitik explained. "Despite our efforts, some people will find classes full or not available in their area."
For those who wish to pursue the home study option, information on requirements and materials is available by contacting Dan Boes with the WDFW Hunter Education Program at (360) 902-8115 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides learning information in the written material, home study participants must work with a target shooting facility to complete the shooting proficiency portion of the course and complete a written examination supervised by a proctor.
"The home study program requires discipline, time and individual motivation," acknowledged Mikitik. "It is not an easy alternative to a traditional class."
For general information on the state hunter education program see the department's website on the Internet.