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Hunter safety course set for Nov. 3 at Calvary Baptist

Hunting season is in full swing, and those who still need to pass a hunter safety course have the opportunity to do so at Calvary Baptist Church in Red Bank Saturday, Nov. 3 from 1-6 p.m.

Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1969, is required to pass a hunter safety course in order to hunt, and must carry their certification with them while hunting or risk a citation, said class instructor John Finch. Those who have passed a course in states not recognized by the Tennessee program, such as South Carolina, are also required to pass a safety course in Tennessee in order to hunt legally, he said.

Finch, a children’s minister who works full-time at Volkswagen, has offered his volunteer services leading free hunter safety courses throughout the region for the past 24 years. He said he leads several courses a year at Calvary Baptist, with the November course being his last in 2012.

Finch said participants must be at least 9 years old, adding that he typically has a range of ages in the classes, some with students in their 70s.

“For most 9-year-olds it’s hard to sit through, but it’s intended for a 9-year-old to be able to pass,” he said. “We do everything we can to help them out.”

Students must pass a test online which can be accessed through links on the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency website for a $10-$25 charge. Finch said the test typically takes around 5-6 hours depending on the person, and it allows the individual to forego the traditional four-day hunter safety course.

He said the class, which fulfills the field day requirement for the online course, begins with registration followed by three hours of review.

“We want to make sure everyone, especially the younger ones, understands the language on the test, because some terms might not be familiar,” said Finch.

He then goes over ethics, such as being a responsible hunter, taking care of the land and being respectful of game limits and other hunters. Finch said he often stresses to students that they will likely be hunting with a family member or close friend, and that is who will be hurt if they ignore safety precautions.

“That usually wakes them up a bit,” he said.

Finch will also show students different types of firearms and ammunition for visualization purposes, and the students will then try out their skills with air rifles on the property behind the church.

Finch said he tries to keep the class size to about 100 participants. He currently has around 40 students signed up, but walk-ins are welcome and no pre-registration is necessary.

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