Today I attended the final element of the hunter safety certification process. It was faintly ridiculous but who cares because I passed.
Having previously passed an on-line exam it was necessary for me to book a “field day” to complete the process. I chose today from a list of dates on the Minnesota DNR website, and called the volunteer instructor who was listed. Jason Raaen, the lead instructor of “Personal Firearm Safety Training” , directed me to the function room of a restaurant called Cowboy Jacks, where today, along with forty odd other people I took an exam.
The exam consisted of 50 multiple choice questions (many of which I had already answered in the on-line portion of the process) and we were advised to answer the questions as if we were a 14 year old child, since that is who this exam is intended for. Therefore when asked “What is necessary in order to show your gun to your friends?”, I answered “The presence of a responsible adult”. Needless to say I passed that exam. The instructor pointed out that although we all had a certificate saying we passed the on-line exam, he had no way of knowing who had actually taken it.
After filling out some forms we were directed to a range. Here we lined up in the cold (zero Fahrenheit) to take the shooting test. When I got to the head of the line I was handed a loaded 10/22 rifle and told to fire ten shots, engaging and disengaging the safety catch in between each shot. I did this, there was no target to speak of, he wasn’t watching anyway. When the rifle went ‘click’ I engaged the safety catch and handed back the rifle. The instructor said “you’re done, get your form signed at the table”, which I did, then I left.
While I am inclined to make fun I would like to say that I approve of the intention behind the course, and saw no examples of unsafe or irresponsible behaviour. All the other “students” appeared to be sensible people and the instructor, while slightly eccentric to my eyes, was never anything but professional at all times. Perhaps it is that the intended age group for this process is early teens that makes it seem ridiculous to someone a bit older.
During the on-line training I learned a valuable piece of advice for a deer hunter. Apparently, strapping a dead deer to the front of your truck and driving around is not an effective way of cooling it down.
Next weekend I am hoping to do my first bit of target shooting since I arrived in the USA. With a bit of luck I will be travelling north to the Minneapolis Rifle Club to shoot at 300 meters with my Swing rifle. I have to load some ammunition before then and try my jacket on for the first time in ten months, and I probably won’t do very well, but I am very keen to get back to my core shooting interest. I will let you know how it goes.