Are you 38 years or older and a West Virginia resident? If so, you were not required to take a Hunter Education Course to obtain a hunting license. I have a challenge for those of you who fall into this category; take the class and tell me you didn't learn life-saving tips. Start your quest to a safer you by answering the following questions:
Who do you usually hunt with? Is it safer to take a bath, ride a bike/play sports, or go hunting? What is the average age of a shooter involved in a hunting incident? The Answers: Most people hunt with members of their immediate family or good friends. It is safer to go hunting than it is to take a bath, ride a bike, play soccer, or even baseball. The average age of a shooter involved in a hunting incident, nationwide, is approximately 45.
These statistics change year to year. Yet, they consistently remain close to these numbers. I am a Hunter Safety Instructor, and I recently received my copy of the 2012 WV hunting incident report. The statistics within this report made me feel compelled to write this article and the challenge held within it. The good news is Hunter Education is paying off and the number of incidents continues to drop.
The facts are daunting, and the shocking truth is, they all could have been prevented! For 2012, there were 23 hunting incidents in this state. Here is a quick break down:
There were only four incidents where someone was an actual shooting victim. All of those incidents were caused by the shooter not positively identifying the target and what was beyond.
The average age of the shooter involved in the reported incidents was 57 years 9 months! Of the remaining 19 incidents, 12 were falls from tree stands, and the other seven incidents were self-inflicted gunshot wounds (careless gun handling).
These statistics should speak volumes as to the importance of Hunter Safety Courses. They also point out that the average age of someone involved in an incident is over 40 - the same age group that is not required to take the safety course. The numbers also show that we most frequently hunt with family and friends. Do you really want to be involved in an incident with a family member or a friend? I highly doubt it, and, therefore, challenge all WV hunters who have not taken a Hunter Education Course, to take one.
If you take my class I will prove to you that you cannot believe what you thought you saw. Let me teach you how to become a safe hunter and quite possibly safe the life of a friend or family member. I dare you to accept my challenge!