The inspiration for creating the Hunter Field Engagement Course came from the observation by Hunter Education instructors that there was a need for a “next step” after a student completes a Hunter Safety Course through the state program. In that program, students learn the basics of safe firearms handling, but do not get instruction on the more advanced skills necessary to go into the field and safely make an accurate, ethical shot on game.
The goal of the HFEC is to introduce students to all of the skills necessary to go from having a foundation of firearms safety, to being able to quickly and effectively engage game from a variety of positions. In the field, a hunter must be able to use what is offered by the natural surroundings to build a stable shooting position as quickly as possible and to make an accurate first round hit on a representative animal sized target. All engagements will be held at reasonable hunting ranges (100-300 yards) and in natural terrain that one might encounter on an average hunting trip. Students will be given instruction on the proper use of our program supplied bolt action rifles, scopes and binoculars and how to successfully employ them in a variety of hunting based scenarios. Since most hunting opportunities require some level of urgency, the student will learn how to balance time and accuracy requirements to ensure positive results when they pull the trigger on an animal.
This class focuses on using the gear people frequently hunt with to hone skills that have proven to be crucial in real-life hunting situations.
To recreate the balance of excitement, pressure, urgency and accuracy, we will employ a competition style curriculum during the field engagement day. By introducing a scenario where the student must learn to balance nervous urgency with the need to be accurate, we can help them to become better at first round shot success. This is the ultimate goal of the program and is what we hope to see from all of those who go on to hunt real animals. To accomplish this, the targets will have ascending point value based on distance and the student will be given a time limit to engage the targets. For each miss on a target, the target will lose point value, reinforcing the importance of first round hit accuracy even while under the pressure of urgency. In addition to teaching the student the importance of being able to get first round hits quickly on target, they will learn what their limits are regarding target distance. They will know at the end of the class, just how far they can reliably make a solid, ethical first round hit on a game animal.
Our ultimate goal as instructors, is to have our students leave with the knowledge, skill and ability to quickly make accurate shots in field conditions. After completing this class, they will be truly better prepared to take the next step in becoming safe, ethical and successful hunters.