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Students earn hunter education certification through course at Wasilla Middle School

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 11:18 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A partnership between the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Wasilla Middle School is letting students get hands-on safe gun handling experience and their hunter certification through a course at school.

“It’s basic hunter education so the main core of this course, it’s basic, but mostly it’s safe gun handling,” said Paul Houser, a volunteer hunter education instructor with Fish and Game. “We want to teach these kids how to handle that firearm or gun safely, and go out and have fun and come back alive and safe.”

Wasilla Middle School math teacher Kristin Strawn spearheaded the partnership. She said she wanted to offer the course to students this quarter after seeing how much her daughter enjoyed and learned from taking the training course from the department over the summer. She said it quickly gained a lot of interest from students.

“My goal is to hunt a grouse and that was the main reason I wanted to. But once I get a grouse, I’m like, ‘hey, moose is really good, and I kind of want to hunt a moose and get that rack on my wall someday,’” said Adam Carroll, a seventh grade student.

After spending time this quarter studying and learning the subject in the classroom, the students went to Grouse Ridge Shooting Club in Wasilla for some hands-on training for safe gun handling.

“This class is super important because if you’re not doing proper gun handling, you could end up killing your best friend or family member and you could never get that guilt out because you would know it’s your fault,” Carroll said.

The day at the shooting club started with a short video on gun safety followed by the students answering questions about what they saw in the video. They went over the four rules of safe gun handling, then got their hands on some guns with supervision from volunteer instructors. They also tried their hand at shooting targets in the field.

“When I was reading the book, I didn’t really understand some of the parts of the gun, but now going in there and actually touching the gun and knowing how it works and them explaining it, helps me a lot,” said Claire Bredberg, who is in the eighth grade.

While safety is the number one priority, it also served as a fun learning experience for some of these students that will stick with them for years to come.

“My parents are both born and raised in Alaska and so are my grandparents, and they hunted, and I really wanted to hunt and continue the generation and tradition of my family,” Carroll said.

All quarter, the students have been studying Fish and Game books and manuals. They also completed a 45-page workbook and must have passed a written exam before getting hands on field training and their certification.

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