Two weekends ago, I was indoctrinated into a community of very caring individuals who do marvelous work for no pay at all. Instead, these people work only for the feeling of joy that overcomes them when they help people achieve things they never thought they could.
I have been around this community of men and women for several years now. In fact, back when I was 7 years old, I got my first taste of the kind of work these volunteers do. I knew then I wanted to be a part of this community someday.
The job these folks do is not really mentally challenging. In fact, they all have a passion for what they are passing onto others that helps alleviate the stress most outsiders would think we endure. Granted, the work is physical and done outdoors, but the end result is well worth it.
Nowhere else that I think of will 10 people from around the state drive to a house right outside of Alden, Kan., to work for a solid eight hours without pay or compensation except a free meal from the host.
Where will you find people willing to donate their entire Saturday for the benefit of something greater than themselves? These people know their sweat and blood are going toward making other people’s lives better. That’s all that matters to them.
So far, it seems like I might be talking about a charitable organization or some sort of fundraising group. Well, in fact, these honorable people passing on their passion to others are Hunter Education Instructors.
That Saturday of work happened about a month ago. Ten people, from Paola, Kan., to Pratt, Kan., came together at a small farmstead to work on some trail walk supplies for future students to use. These people could not hear one another, but somehow they all worked together and produced.
As I said, two weekends ago, I was indoctrinated into this great group of people when I officially became a licensed Kansas State Hunter Education Instructor. I’ve been helping teach the classes around the state for some time now.
Being a national champion trap shooter, I am generally located at the shotgun shooting station for the outdoors portion of the class. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than seeing a young girl smile from ear to ear when she breaks her first target and knowing that without your help, she might not have ever used a shotgun in her life.
There’s something to be said for that moment. When that happens, it is generally after the young woman has told me she will not hit anything.
Showing people they can in fact do something they did not believe they could is what makes it worthwhile for me to be an instructor. The students can tell how passionate I am about hunting and how passionate I am about teaching them proper techniques for firearm safety both afield and at home.
It is incredible to think during 2009, there were a total of 12 hunting incidents with no fatalities. Granted, everyone would like to see the number reduced to zero, but humans do make errors and incidents occur. Accidents are not preventable; all hunting incidents could have been prevented.
However, 12 incidents is a small percentage of the approximately 271,000 hunters who spent more than 3,000,000 hours afield during the season. The main reason there were so few of accidents is because there are more better educated hunters afield. Where did these hunters learn their proper ethical hunting techniques? They learned them from some of the approximately 1,300 volunteer instructors like myself.
No matter what your stance on hunting, it is hard to argue that teaching people how to become ethical hunters is bad. I honestly believe without hunter education classes, the number of incidents would be much higher. If that were the case, one of my favorite pastimes would probably be outlawed.
So, thank you fellow instructors. Thank you for doing what you do and allowing me to become a part of a great organization. It really is an honor to know I am teaching people about one of my passions and hopefully, they remember what they learned and will help keep this passion of mine alive.
– Chuck Fischer is a junior in business. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.