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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 3/12/2006

Guns in school, appropriately

Here is a guns-in-school story that will not make hysterical headlines because it makes way too much sense.

Diane DiYonker, natural-resources teacher at Toledo schools' Frank Dick Natural Science/Technology Center, recently completed a state-certified hunter-education course with 15 of her students, the final session of which involved hands-on instruction in the proper handling of different types of firearms, from handguns to shotguns.

It was done safely, effectively, with no muss and fuss, and with good purpose, as DiYonker explains.

At least some of her natural-resources students will be going on to train as park rangers, wildlife officers and watercraft officers and for other law enforcement posts in the natural-resources field. Many of them will be using firearms in their professions.

"They ought to know at least the minimum about them," reasoned DiYonker. Indeed, de-mystifying any subject is a sensible way to teach young people responsibility and maturity.

Only two of her 15 students, ages 16 to 18, already were card-carrying hunters, so DiYonker knew that some exposure to hunting and related shooting sports, and the firearms that are a part of it, would be healthy. "For most of my kids, they're urban kids and they don't know their way around firearms. But they should, especially if they're getting into several fields of natural resources."

The teacher took advantage of the home-study hunter-education course provided by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, converting it into a classroom unit. The wildlife division offers home study as an alternative to a standard course, which involves attending up to several instructor-led classroom sessions and taking a test.

The state hunter-education-course material also covers a wide array of other topics, from hunter responsibilities and ethics to outdoor safety, wildlife management and conservation and related topics.

The home-study course still requires a closing hands-on session with a certified hunter-education instructor to demonstrate proficiency with safe handling and identification of firearms, plus testing. So DiYonker enlisted the help of Jim Daniels, a certified instructor and member of Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association. Daniels, in turn, brought along a fellow instructor, Ed Racz, for the final classroom session.

"Everybody passed. They did quite well, I thought," said DiYonker.

Daniels added that in turn, Wolf Creek has invited the students to the club range later this month for a trapshoot, which involves shooting at airborne clay targets with shotguns.

"They showed real interest in the instruction," he said. "They all have goals as to what they want to achieve in their education."

Di Yonker said that she began teaching hunter education two years ago and offers it every other year.

"If they know about firearms and respect them, I think that's a better situation."

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A legislative candidates' forum to allow Ohio sportsmen to meet nominees for state offices, including governor, is scheduled for Tuesday, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Athletic Club of Columbus, 136 East Broad St., Columbus.

Candidates for governor or their lieutenant-governor teammates, attorney general, secretary of state and others will be on hand to field questions about sportsmen's concerns. Legislative candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate also are scheduled to be available.

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, which is based in Columbus. For other details contact USSA at 419-888-4868 or visit the USSA Web site, www.ussportsmen.org.



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