Illinois schools will soon have the option to provide hunter education as an in-class program or after-school activity to students across the state. Signed into law on July 26 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the initiative is designed to strengthen hunter and firearm safety for students.
While specific guidelines have yet to be adopted, course components may include firearm safety, responsible firearm ownership, transportation laws, and how to ensure compliance with local hunting ordinances, as well as hunting ethics, first aid, wildlife conservation and bowhunting. Though the course prohibits firearms or live ammunition in the classroom, students will have the opportunity to visit a range outside school grounds.
“While we need to see what sort of guidelines the state board of education sets, it’s encouraging to see Illinois agree to provide courses that teach the safe and responsible use of firearms,” said NRA-ILA spokesman and communications manager Lars Dalseide. “Hopefully, this will serve as a roadmap for other states that fail to provide such valuable lessons to our youth.”
Other states, such as Iowa, South Dakota and North Carolina, already offer hunter education in schools. For individuals who want to obtain their hunter education, the NRA also offers a free online-hunter education course at NRAHE.org; the course can be tailored to meet each state’s hunter education requirements. Currently, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and West Virginia offer the NRA’s free online course.