SHAFTSBURY -- A hunter education course for women only still has room for more.
The course begins January 15 at the Hale Mountain Fish and Game Club, located on Rod and Gun Club Road. It goes from 6:30 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday until Feb. 12, with the final class on Friday, Feb. 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
First local women-only course
"This is the first local women-only course, as far as I know," said Game Warden Travis Buttle, who will help teach the class.
He said it is open to women age 15 and over. Those under 16 need a parental consent form. Nine people are confirmed to attend, he said, but the class has room for 25, and possible a few more. Those who would like to attend may sign up online at www.register-ed.com/events/view/40552.
The women-only course was spawned from the "Women on Target," program held over the summer at Hale Mountain, said Buttle. At that event, Bennington Police taught 26 women how to safely use a wide variety of firearms.
Buttle said a few women from that class have signed up for this one -- something that happens often with firearm courses geared toward novice shooters. He said once they get a sense of firearms, women, and people in general, branch out into target shooting or hunting.
"During that (Women on Target) class, we said, ‘this is just an introduction for you,'" Buttle said.
In Vermont a person must have completed a hunter safety education course before he or she can purchase a hunting license. The courses are free.
Buttle, who has taught hunter safety before, said the main demographic for hunter safety is males between 11 and 15 years old, and he has known a few women who have shied away from taking the class because they do not want to be the only 45-year-old female in the room.
"It's a more comfortable setting for them," he said of the women-only course.
Ann Arendt, vice president of Hale Mountain Fish and Game Club, said she took her hunter safety course when she was about 50 years old in another state. "I was with a bunch of 12-year-old boys," she said.
People tend to feel more comfortable learning around others their age and, "Women are becoming more interested in the sport," she said.
While some women may have no interest in hunting, their spouses or children may and so they wish to be knowledgeable about safely handling firearms in the house, Buttle said. However, the hunter education courses teach more than that and cover wildlife conservation and the role hunting plays within it.
Arendt said women also hunt so they can be with their relatives who do, making it a family activity. She said classes like Women on Target are good for getting women familiar with shooting sports and teaching them how to be safe.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.