Colorado hunter safety program makes hunting a safer experience
Anyone who knows the history of hunting safety in Colorado also knows how worthwhile the many volunteer Hunter Education instructors have been to generations of Colorado hunters.
In 1970, in response to a rash of hunting-related injuries and deaths, including two young boys killed while riding a motorbike near Gunnison during hunting season in 1967, the state adopted mandatory hunter safety training and the wearing of blaze orange.
Colorado’s legislature made it a requirement that anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949 must first pass a Hunter Education course prior to purchasing a hunting licenses.
By 1971, more than 100,000 hunters had undergone the training and deaths from hunting dropped to zero after averaging almost nine in previous years.
Today, more than 600,000 hunters have taken the Colorado hunter safety course.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the yearly average now is 1.6 fatal and 10 non-fatal hunting accidents.
Similar courses are now required in all 50 states.
There are the approximately 500 trained and certified Hunter Education volunteer instructors teaching more than 700 classes across the state each year, joining the more than 50,000 volunteer instructors across the nation.
Prospective hunter education instructors are interviewed and undergo a rigorous screening and background check.
After training and testing, instructor candidates must complete their student teaching under the supervision of certified instructors before they become fully certified.
In recognition of the volunteer instructors and the contributions to hunting safety, all hunter education graduates who took their course in Grand Junction have the opportunity to nominate a candidate for the “Grand Valley Hunter Education Instructor of the Year”.
The award will honor the invaluable contributions the volunteer instructors have made toward making hunting one of the safest forms of outdoor recreation.
According to the National Safety Council, hunting results in fewer injuries per 100,000 participants than do many other sports, including cycling, bowling, golf and tennis.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, says that group’s data on accident rates among 28 recreational pursuits shows hunting ranks third in safety behind only camping and billiards.
“Without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, it would be very difficult to keep up with the demand,” said District Wildlife Manager Frank McGee, also a Hunter Education instructor. “It’s time to honor our local volunteers and give everyone the opportunity to thank them for the long hours they have dedicated to hunter education.”