Published by IHESA-USA
Hunter Safety Education began in the mid to late 1940’s upon the return of soldiers from the Great War and with increased time spent in the hunting woods. The National Rifle Association (NRA) took the lead in shooting and hunter safety efforts even prior to the war, but especially in the 40’s and 50’s with their “10 Commandments of Hunting Safety” and “Uniform Casualty Hunting Accident Report” system that they provided to their trained instructor force plus to state fish and wildlife agency enforcement staffs. A voluntary, statewide, hunter safety camp program begun in Kentucky in 1946 and a mandated program using NRA materials enacted in New York in 1949, launched a nationwide effort to address a growing problem in the hunting ranks –hunting accidents/incidents. With the 1972 passage of the Dingell-Hart Amendment to the 1937 Pittman-Robertson Act, states were able to fund their growing hunter education programs, and by the late 1990’s, every state mandated hunter education for segments of its hunters, mostly young hunters just starting their lifelong outdoor adventures.
Fast forward to today, some 65 years later, and you find that hunting incident rates are at their lowest in the history of documenting outdoor injuries/fatalities. In large measure, the system of hunter safety education coursework required in every state can take credit for such a significant reduction — yet another conservation benefit provided for by hunters — in this case, policing their own behaviors and actions afield.
Compared to other sports, hunting is not only safe, it is getting safer….and we can thank hunters themselves for financing and demanding a high standard from each other as we participate in our “American way of life.” We can also thank the 60,000 hunter safety education instructors, many whom volunteer to serve, for passing on safe, responsible, knowledgeable and involved actions by shooters and hunters and for passing on the heritage of hunting. It is because of their efforts that hunter education is a conservation legacy effort!