NEWTOWN, Conn. — If you’re a new hunter or you’re planning to take someone on a first hunt this fall, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reminds you that summer is the perfect time to take a hunter education course and acquire the certification necessary to purchase a hunting license.

“Don’t have your fall hunting plans spoiled by forgetting to take that all-important hunter education course,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF senior vice president. “New hunters who are excited about going afield for the first time will need a hunter ed certificate to buy their hunting license, whether in their home state or out of state.”20080326_newNSSF150wide

For this reason, July, August and September are popular months to enroll in hunter ed classes. Check with your state’s wildlife agency to find a class that is convenient for you to attend, keeping in mind that a class may take up to 16 to 18 hours to complete. A commitment to multiple evenings or a weekend will be necessary depending on the state you live in and the course you take, though the investment in time will be well worth it. The NSSF website www.huntinfo.org provides links to each state’s wildlife agency and can help you locate a class.

In nearly every state, proof of having taken a hunter education course usually is required to purchase a hunting license. Requirements do vary, however, so prospective hunters should check with their state’s agency.

If you’re planning to take a youth hunting with you this fall, check your state’s hunting regulations on the requirements for younger hunters. Many states now offer apprentice hunting licenses that allow children to try hunting with a licensed adult mentor prior to taking a hunter education course. More than 400,000 apprentice hunting licenses have been purchased nationwide thanks to Families Afield, a program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and National Wild Turkey Federation that has helped lower age restrictions for young hunters in 30 states.

When the time comes for a youngster to take a hunter ed course, parents find that taking the class with their son or daughter is rewarding and becomes part of the shared hunting experience.

“It is the duty of every sportsman and woman to hunt safely and responsibly, and the best way to understand how to accomplish that is by taking a hunter education course,” said Dolnack. “Taking a course is not just for inexperienced hunters. The class can serve as a good refresher for veteran hunters about their state’s regulations and a reminder about showing respect for wildlife, the land and other hunters.

“NSSF also salutes the thousands of volunteer instructors who teach hunter education throughout the country. The future of hunting depends on sportsmen who understand their responsibilities related to firearm safety, hunter ethics and wildlife conservation.”

A number of NSSF education brochures are used in hunter education courses, including “Firearms Safety Depends on You,” “Hunter Ethics” and “The Hunter and Conservation.” These and other materials, including firearm safety and wildlife conservation videos, are available at www.nssf.org.

About NSSF

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 5,500 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.