BUTLER COUNTY, Kan. — Wichita State sophomore Gary Gray Jr. spent Saturday morning working on a class project.
His assignment included shooting clay targets, firing pellet guns and boning up on firearms safety.
The engineering major is one of about 15 students enrolled in the school’s Hunter Education 102 class. Those who complete the class will get hunter-education certificates, can apply to be hunter education instructors and get two hours of college credit. Passing the class will also mean learning presentation skills.
“I was looking for some classes to take and always wanted to get into hunting,” said Gray. “When I saw I got my hunter education and two hours of credit, it was like a double bonus.”
Rose Corby is largely responsible for the class making it into Wichita State’s Physical Education program. Kansas’ 2010 Hunter Education Instructor of the Year, Corby got the idea at a conference where finding new ways to offer classes was discussed.
“I’m a college student, so I went and talked to my advisor and they told me who to talk to,” said Corby, a Wichita State senior. “It took a lot of assurances on things like liability and safety, but we got it going.”
Frank Rokosz, head of the school’s Human Performance Studies program, said the class fit well within the program that also offers classes on weight training, golf, yoga and martial arts.
“We decided to make it a two credit hour class because of the involved classroom nature of it,” Rokosz, said. “Most of our classes are one credit hour.”
Under the design of Corby and course instructor Wayne Doyle, the class is about more than how to hold a shotgun or which gender of pheasant to shoot. The students are learning the topic and learning to teach it, too.
“The big thing is presentation skills, that’s the biggest portion of their grade,” said Doyle, who retired as Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism hunter education coordinator on Jan. 1. “They’ll have to do a 10-minute presentation on some hunter education subject at the end of the class.”
He said some students dropped the course when they figured out it wasn’t “an easy A.”
Doyle said about half of the students are interested in hunting. Corby assures non-sporting students the class is still worth their time.
“No matter if they end up selling insurance or whatever, they’re going to need presentation skills to succeed,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll end up with some good hunter education instructors out there, too.”
Though it’s currently the only educational program that gives school credits for learning to be a hunter education instructor, about 35 middle and high schools offer hunter education as part of their curriculum, said Monica Bickerstaff, Wildlife and Parks assistant hunter education coordinator.
Before arriving at the Michael Murphy and Sons shooting ranges near Augusta, the college students completed an online study program and testing as part of the state’s standard hunter education program. At the event they learned firearms safety but also how to teach it to future students.
“You want the first (clay) target they shoot to be an easy incomer,” Doyle said as he pushed a button and a clay target floated toward the students. “When it’s just hanging there, just before it starts to fall, they’ll shoot it and get excited.”
Corby taught the kinds of questions to ask students when they’re going through simulated hunting scenarios, such as walking up pheasants or hunting quail with a dog. Students also got lengthy instruction on developing shooting skills.
Dinh Dinh, an 18-year-old sophomore, shot pellet rifles and shotguns for the first time and hopes to start hunting. He labeled the course “probably the best class I’ve ever taken.”
Gray plans on hunting with friends this fall and likes the idea of teaching hunter education. “I need to get some more experience,” he said, “but down the road I may get into that, too.”
(c)2011 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)
Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services