BY SCOTT RALL
The Globe outdoors columnist
Eighteen months of winter, then three days of spring, and now we are headed back to winter again.
I did spend Monday of this week outside working on one of my wildlife properties. The upcoming week is forecast to be rainy all week, so I have an idea for you to help your kids pass the time until it warms up again.
How about working with your children to help them get their firearms safety certificate? For the past 15 years certification was available in the Worthington area by completing an online course. That course is available at huntercourse.com.
When the participant completed this on-line course, they were required to attend a range day that was held at the Worthington Gun Club the first Saturday in May.
Things are changing a little this year. I have been the lead instructor in Worthington for 22 years. I am passing the torch on this important effort to two much younger gentlemen.
They are Jay Clarke and Pat Shorter. These men have worked with kids from Brewster, Adrian and the surrounding area in years past and are now combining the two programs into one. Any child can participate regardless of where you live.
The timing is changing and opportunities to complete the program are expanding. The participants will now have two different ways to complete the required course work. They can still take the online version and then attend the range day which is now scheduled for Aug. 17. The online students will be required to attend one traditional class on Thursday, Aug. 8 for hands-on gun handling.
The other method will be the more traditional classroom-only setting. The in-person classes will be at the Worthington Fire Hall on Aug. 5, 7, 8, 12, and 14. The range day will follow on Aug. 17 as I mentioned earlier.
Another requirement which is different than in years past is that all attendees have to register and the class size is limited to the first 30 enrollees. Participants will need to be 11 years old prior to the classroom starting date. So, if you were born prior to 8-5-08 you are good to go.
To register for the traditional classroom firearms safety program or the online range day, you need to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will need name, address, contact information and the birthday of the participant.
I suggest that you do so as soon as you know you can commit to the class schedule. If you have additional questions you can send those questions to the email listed or call Jay Clark at 507-295-5374.
The number does go to an answering machine after business hours, so you can leave a message and he will get back to you shortly. Many of the same dedicated instructors, including myself, will also be helping the new leadership of the hands-on classroom program.
There is actually some talk about the state offering this important training in the course of the normal school curriculum. It might be part of the physical education or other department. It is so overdue and would allow every youth in the state to be safer around firearms.
I have always been of the belief that every child should possess the knowledge even if they never intend to handle or shoot a gun. We will have to see how these bills make their way through this year’s legislative session.
I am excited and very glad to see a new younger group stepping up to continue this important work. They have already gotten time commitments from additional individuals willing to help.
I am sure that the transition from the online-only program to both online and traditional classroom settings will be a smooth one. You can now complete the program two different ways and have from now till August to pick your method and complete the requirements of that method.
A couple of other things to remember. If you choose the classroom method you cannot miss more than one class. If you have commitments in August which would prohibit you from attending all of the classes, you might want to complete the online version. There is no room for error on class attendance.
I will continue to offer the Minnesota permit to carry classes and have one scheduled for Friday, April 19. There is only room for four more participants in that class.
Give me a shout at 507-360-6027 if you want to reserve your spot.
Please get you child started on this youth firearms safety program effort now and get it on your calendar. Way too many times I get a call from a parent who has a youth who wants to hunt, and all available options have passed for that year.
It will soon warm up, hopefully by July, and we can all start to spend a little more time outdoors. I for one surely need it.