Start Them Young: Families Afield

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By: Bruce L. Tague – Vice President Government Affairs, Sportsmen’s Alliance

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining and the smell of fall was all around. After finishing up the yard work, I yelled to my boys to grab their safety glasses and ear protection and meet me out back. There, about 25 yards out, was a tall cardboard box and on it was a pristine target that wouldn’t stay unscathed very long!

Safety glasses, check. Ear protection, check. Savage .22, check. 500 rounds of ammo, check. Their eyes lit up and after going over all safety protocols we were ready to go! This half hour of instruction and dedicated time to my boys are some of the greatest moments in my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

These preparations are part of a bigger picture. The boys and I are preparing to go out in the field together, which has been made extremely easy due to Ohio’s Apprentice Hunting License program. The program, which is called the Mentored Hunting License program in some states, allows a person to try hunting prior to completing hunter education, as long as the newcomer is under the direct supervision of an experienced and licensed mentor. This concept, a “try before you buy” approach, is the cornerstone of the Families Afield Program.

The Families Afield Program allows new hunters to develop real enthusiasm for hunting before they enroll in a required hunter education class. It allows mentors to instill safety, ethics and their passion for the sport in a safe and comfortable environment. It also allows new hunters to become familiar with rules, regulations and safety procedures that they will need for their final requirement to become a fully licensed hunter in their state after passing a hunter education course.

The greatest part about this day was the bragging done by each boy and how each of them hit the target every time and who it was that hit the bullseye … I smiled because I didn’t have the heart to tell them that their father was the only one who tore up the small red circle.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.