Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
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Instructors Manual

Funded by a grant from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act


Any object that is used in connection with teaching a course through one of the senses - generally sight, touch, or hearing - is an instructional aid. 

Aids include such items as blackboards, charts, posters, maps, overhead projectors, news clippings, flannel boards, silhouettes, models, mock-ups, pictures, slides, and movies or videos. They also include other objects actually used in presenting the course of instruction. 

If an aid is to be used, be sure it is either secured or prepared in advance of the class session. Determine where and when it will fit the material being used. Place the aid in a convenient location and keep it out of sight until the proper time for use. This will prevent students from being distracted until the aid is needed to emphasize a point. 

There are a number of times when the use of instructional aids will serve a better purpose than the real thing or when the real object is not readily available. For example, the use of dummy cartridges is an added safety measure. A wooden gun may be used to demonstrate the danger of allowing a gun to fall. A chair can simulate an automobile. Ropes strung between chairs can represent a fence. Aids may also be valuable if the real object is too large or too small to be used in a classroom. A box being used to represent a boat is a good example of the former. 

Instructional aids are also valuable when the action is too fast or too slow for normal observation. The path of a bullet can be shown by the use of ready-made charts, by drawing on a blackboard, or by use of a motion picture. The expansion of gases within a gun barrel along with the movement of the shot or bullet through the barrel can be drawn on the blackboard. 

The problem of what aid should be used can be solved easily. Each aid should be simple with no distracting material and should represent only one idea. It should be large enough to permit the most distant student to see the smallest detail. It should be used at the proper time to illustrate a point and should be flexible enough to be used under different training conditions, classroom or field. 

Several instructional aids are discussed separately to assist you in making the best use of them. This should not prevent you from using your own ideas. Aids which permit involvement of the student, are better than those that require only passive viewing.

Chalk board or Dry Erase board 

The most flexible of all training aids is the blackboard. Its use is limited only by your imagination.

Chalkboard (or dry erase board) work should be simple and brief. Copying lengthy outlines or lists of subject matter wastes both the instructor's and the student's time. If it is important for each student to have a copy, then duplicate and distribute it. 

Advantages of Chalk/Dry Erase Boards
  • Cost is minimal 
  • Are usually available 
  •  May be used in a variety of ways 
  • Are simple to use
  • Encourages class participation

Limitations of Chalk/Dry Erase Boards

  • Do not provide a permanent record
  • Can be boring
  • Are usually stationary
  • Cannot be used with large groups
  • Difficult to use creatively

Here are a few rules for increasing the chalkboard's effectiveness as a visual aid.

  • Words should be printed, not written. Form letters in a clear, simple style. Avoid fancy scripts or print that is difficult to read.
  • Put the chalkboard where everyone can see it or use a section of a permanently located board that is easy to see.
  • Leave out unnecessary detail. A few important points make a vivid impression.
  • Plan ahead of time what you are going to write on the chalkboard or dry erase board.
  • Have everything you need before the group meets, including chalk or dry erase marker pens, ruler and eraser.
  • Use colored chalk or markers for emphasis.
  • Prepare complicated chalkboard layouts before the group meets.  Cover work with poster board until you are ready to use it.
  • Make captions and drawings large. Material must be clearly visible to all students.
  •  Erase all unrelated material. Other work on the chalkboard distracts attention.


Prepared charts offer one of the best training aids available to you. The advantages and limitations of using a chart are very similar to using a chalkboard. Use actual equipment with the chart for maximum effectiveness.

You may prepare your own charts easily and inexpensively with the use of felt pen and wrapping paper or blank newsprint. Colored markers should be used on this paper and different colors used if more than one idea is to be conveyed from one chart. Remember that colors such as red or light green are hard to read and should be avoided. Such charts are best if kept simple, with any lettering large and clear and in direct relation to the subject being taught.


Overhead Projectors

The overhead projector combines the advantages of the slide projector, flip chart, and chalkboard.

  • Most overhead projectors are designed for the projection of transparencies up to 10"x10" in size.   In addition, opaque objects may be silhouetted on a screen very effectively for a shadow-picture effect.
  • Projection can be done in a normally lighted room. A darkened room is usually not necessary.
  • The instructor faces the audience and can keep eye contact with the participants.
  • A large image is projected from a short distance.
  • Transparencies are easily prepared and economical. They can be prepared in advance.
  • A clear roll of acetate film can be used on the overhead projector with felt-tip pens to create the presentation as you go.  Write or create pictures as you speak.  Simply roll the film up for the next frame.
  • It is possible to write or draw on prepared transparencies with grease pencil to emphasize a point.   Markings can be erased with a soft cloth.
  • Transparencies of typed copy, pages or books can be prepared in seconds, but make sure participants are able to read them.
  • Lettering on an overhead projector transparency should be no less than ¼ inch high.
  • Each Area Coordinator holds a set of high quality overheads on firearms and firearm safety and copies may be made locally of any slides.

Models,Cutaways, Actual Equipment

These aids are generally made or furnished by the instructor. They are convenient in demonstrating the actual relationship of parts and the inner workings of an object, such as a cartridge.

In using a cutaway dummy shell or cartridge, be sure that the case does not have a live primer cap.   NEVER USE LIVE AMMUNITION EXCEPT UNDER SAFE CONDITIONS ON A FIRING RANGE. If you make your own dummy cartridge, drill a small hole through each side of the case so that anyone can see it is a dummy.

Guest Speakers

Guest speakers, if used properly, can add a great deal to the effectiveness of your course. Please use the following guidelines regarding guest speakers.

  1. Be sure the speaker will fill some educational objective at the appropriate place in the course. Do not invite the guest speaker just to fill time. You should describe what you want him or her to cover and how much time will be allotted. Make sure the speaker allows time for questions.
  2. Use speakers to cover material with which you are not familiar.
  3. Speakers should be particularly knowledgeable in their field. They may even be classified as "experts." For this reason, be sure that students are prepared for the speaker and that you have some follow-up discussion after the session. At least review the main points of the talk before going on to other things.
  4. Be sure the speaker understands the material that is to be covered and the time available. Do not allow the session to run too long or diverge from the material to be covered.

Guest speakers may be obtained from a number of local sources such as: rifle and pistol clubs, archery clubs, muzzleloader clubs, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police, county sheriff, city police, Red Cross, community college or university.

Pictures and Photos

To make the best use of pictures and actual photographs, glue them onto a piece of cardboard large enough to be passed around or easily seen by students farthest from the instructor.

News Clippings

News stories about gun accidents or hunter conduct can be used in your instruction. Try to determine from the story what happened and what should have been done.


The approved video list and procedures to obtain film is in Annex I. Videotapes are valuable training aids.   These aids are excellent tools for illustrating a variety of things under classroom conditions. A follow-up discussion is necessary for the effective use of films. Or you can stop the VCR any time and discuss any points you wish.

Advantages of Video Tapes

  • Easy to use
  • Combine sight, sound, and motion
  • May be used repeatedly
  • May be used with groups of all sizes
  • May be presented in a short time
  • Add drama and action to the training
  • Make key teaching points as well as demonstrate activities and techniques

Limitations of Video Tapes

  • Need special equipment
  • Require previewing before showing
  • Sometimes used as a crutch or substitute for preparation

Here are some helpful suggestions for using video presentations.

  • Make sure outlets are available and working.
  • Know how to operate the equipment.
  • Check to see that the room can be sufficiently darkened. The room need not be in total darkness, however, as a dimly lit room is more effective.
  • Set up equipment prior to the class.
  • Anchor all cords to prevent the machine from being pulled off the table.
  • Set the TV screen where everyone in the audience can see. A corner of a room is usually more desirable than the center
  • Make sure the TV screen is large enough to be seen clearly by the farthest student (if not you may have to move them closer).
  • Make certain you have the correct film. Don't trust titles on the outside of the box. Preview the film prior to showing it.
  • Check the VCR and television monitor to see that it operates correctly. If necessary, take an extension cord.

You may want to prepare a list of important points the students should observe and list them on a chart.   You should also list the questions you plan to ask the students afterwards.

  • When the lights are dim, start the VCR. Bring the lights up before the equipment is turned off.   Don't allow the room to go completely dark.
  • Delay rewinding the videotape until the close of the class. Rewinding a tape machine can be distracting and you'll lose your student's attention.
  • Return videos that have been rented or borrowed immediately after use.
  • Note: It is a violation of Federal Law to make copies of commercially produced videotapes. In addition, "bootleg" copies are invariably of a poorer quality and our students deserve only the best.


The first step in using good teaching techniques is to develop an understanding of how individuals take in information and how they process it. The following article provides some excellent information that forms the basis of how hunter education instructors can develop lesson plans that reach all the class' students.

Oregon Instructors Have Style: Learning Styles, That Is!
By Bill Hastie

When Dragnet's famous police sergeant, Joe Friday, needed to learn something, he always asked for, "Just the facts, Ma'am". Joe was good at learning something new from those facts. He didn't need any other input. Some of us learn best in just this way; we are interested in what the experts say.

But many of us don't learn well by getting 'just the facts.' We have other perfectly acceptable ways of learning - ways that work for us.  For years, schools taught kids as though they all learned in the same way.  Then some educators began to discover some very interesting things about learning.  They found that kids don't all learn in the same way after all.

Now we know that in order to do a good job of teaching, we must teach to a variety of learning styles.  And as hunter education instructors, we can improve our effectiveness by putting what professional educators know about learning styles to work for us.

Dr. Bernice McCarthy has developed a process for determining a student's learning style called the 4MAT System.

According to McCarthy, learners fall into four basic categories or learning styles: ones, twos, threes or fours.

Dynamic Learners

  • Need to know what can be done with things
  • Learn by trial-and-error and self discovery
  • Like variety and excel in situations calling for flexibility
  • Can reach accurate conclusions in absence of logical data
  • Their strength is action and carrying out plans
  • They want to make things happen
  • They ask, "What can this become?"


Innovative Learners

  • Learn by listening and sharing ideas
  • Excel in viewing things from many perspectives
  • Function through social interaction
  • Their strength is innovation and imagination
  • They are idea people
  • They get involved and attempt to bring unity to diversity
  • They ask "why or why not?"



Common Sense Learners

  • Learn by testing theories in sensible ways
  • Seek things that are useful
  • Need to know how things work
  •  Their strength is the practical application of ideas
  • They seek to bring their view of present into line with the future
  • They ask "How does this work?"       


Analytic Learners

  • Seek facts
  • Learn by thinking through ideas
  • Need to know what the experts think
  • More interested in ideas and concepts than people
  • Their strength is creating concepts and models
  • They seek self-satisfaction and intellectual recognition
  • They ask "What?"

All four styles are equally valuable; each has its own strength and weakness.  Each of us is most comfortable in one of these styles, and if someone is teaching us in our most comfortable style, it is easier for us to learn!

You will face kids with each of the four learning styles in your classes, so if your predominant teaching technique is lecture, you'll only be getting through to about one-quarter of your students (the Twos).  How can we structure our lessons so each of the four learning styles can 'shine' at least part of the time?

We really need to teach to all four learning styles if we expect to reach everyone in our class.  For the Ones, who ask, "Why should I learn this?  we need to capitalize on the personal experiences they've had to illustrate why they should take the time to learn this topic.  Motivate them; get them turned on about the subject.  For the Twos, who ask, "What do the experts say?" we need to teach them the facts. For the Threes, who ask, "How does this work?"  we need to give them the opportunity to use the facts they've just learned in some way.  For the Fours, who ask, "What can this become?" we need to give them a chance to add their own flair to the topic and share it with others.

Lesson plans should be constructed to address all four styles, beginning with the ones and ending with all the fours.  In general, the lesson plan could look like this:

On to Next Lesson

Complete project and share
Plan the project


Begin Lesson

Demonstration to get them
Discussion of demonstration,
Film,slides, etc.



Selection of a personal project
Worksheet or reading


Student activity

Let's say you wanted to teach a lesson on firearms safety.  One possible way you could do it is:

On to Next Lesson

Have them give demonstrations

Have them plan a demonstration showing how their accident could have been prevented


Begin Lesson

Demonstrate results of poor firearms
handling (could use "Firearms Safety
and the Hunter" film or other
motivational film)
Talk about recent accidents in your area



Have them select an accident
to analyze

Have them complete a worksheet or
reading (could be homework)


Let them "handle" some firearms

Tell them what you want them to know

At first, it is probably best not to try to cover every style in your class. Experiment with one and expand into others gradually. You'll find that you can reach more and more students as you expand your lessons.  Remember that none of the steps need be lengthy. You can develop techniques that won't require you to lengthen your class. You should study the Hunter Education Instructors Manual and use the lesson plan format suggested in that manual.

One of the most important statements ever made in the field of education is: The key to success as a hunter education instructor is to involve your students.  That is not to say that "tell me" and "show me" teaching methods aren't useful or effective.  But, the bottom line is that "involve me" methods are the most effective.

Let's take a look at some of the various methods of instruction.

"Telling" Methods
Lecture - A talk given before an audience with little student participation.
Lecture - Discussion - A lecture with occasional or frequent questions discussed by the audience.
Drill - The repetitive practice of fundamental knowledge intended to bring about automatic response from the learner
Reading Assignment - An assignment to help the learner gain knowledge of the subject
Review - A re-examination of material previously presented and studied.


"Showing" Methods
Demonstration - A presentation by the instructor to illustrate a principle, show a technique, or establish a fact.
Writing Key Words - Used with lecture, instructor writes key words on a blackboard to emphasize their importance.
Instructional Aids - Anything that supplements learning through the sense of seeing, hearing, and/or feeling.  Used with questioning and lecture - discussion methods.  Examples:  charts, collections, exhibits, firearms, dummy ammunition, maps, models, videos, slides, etc.


"Involvement" Methods
Questioning - A method used to evaluate student understanding, develop and maintain interest, or encourage thinking skills.
Brainstorming - Asking a group of students to come up with possible solutions to a problem or possible answers to a question. All solutions and answers are accepted, and the instructor or helper records what is said on flip chart or chalkboard.  (This is an excellent method for beginning a unit or lesson.)
Buzz Session - A technique whereby a class is divided into groups of four to six students for discussing a specific hunter education problem or controversial issue for a limited amount of time.
Small Group Work - Dividing the class up into small groups to accomplish a task, put on a skit, find a solution, etc.
Worksheets - A written assignment designed to help students understand a reading or audio-visual aid.
Simulation Game - A game which simulates a real situation and aids in the understanding of a concept
Dilemma Cards - A set of situations which force the student to choose between several alternatives.  (Used to teach hunter responsibility.)
Field Work or Unit - Any experience in which students are exposed to actual conditions, usually outside the classroom.  Having students go through fences, over obstacles, in and out of vehicles, etc., are examples of fieldwork.
Role Playing - An unrehearsed, on-the-spot acting out of a problem or situation by selected students and presented before the group.  (Excellent for teaching hunter responsibility.)

There are many different techniques and aids ... and when used in combinations there are hundreds of possibilities. Which method should you use? It depends on what you are trying to teach and many other factors:

  1. Does the aid or technique fit into your scheduled time?
  2. Are the necessary facilities available?
  3. Is the aid/technique appropriate? Perhaps a demonstration is better than a movie
  4. Is the material technically accurate?
  5. Is it visible or accessible to all in the class?
  6. Are there enough copies for everyone?
  7. Is the aid so simple or so complicated as to be ineffective?

Questions can be one of the educator's most valuable tools. Questions can be used to introduce a topic, focus attention to important details or stimulate and guide thinking. They can also be used to encourage participation, check the level of comprehension and to summarize a discussion. But, whatever the objective, instructors should learn good questioning techniques.

There are several categories of questions that can help the instructor develop questions with a specific purpose.

Cognitive memory questions

Cognitive recall questions are usually very narrow in scope and include most "yes" or "no" answers.  They are the easiest types of questions to answer and involve only simple memory with no explanation.  This type of question can be used too when students cannot answer more difficult questions, to encourage participation, or to check knowledge of a subject. Examples or cognitive memory questions include:

  • Does a hunting license allow you to hunt on private land?
  • Male deer are called what?
  • Can smokeless powder be fired in muzzleloader rifles?

Convergent questions

Although the answers to convergent questions are also usually short and to the point, they differ from cognitive memory questions in that they require the respondent to reach a conclusion. These types of questions can be used to test for knowledge as well as understanding.  Examples of convergent questions include:

  • What are the differences between steel and lead shot?
  • Which field carry is the safest and why?
  • Why are handguns more dangerous than rifles?

Divergent questions

These questions encourage the student to not only use their knowledge of a subject, but their creativity, imagination or moral reasoning. Frequently there are no right or wrong answers to these types of questions. Dilemma questions fall into this category. These types of questions are excellent ways to check on the students understanding of the material.

  • What would you do if you saw a friend shoot a redtail hawk?
  • What would you do if an elk you shot jumped a fence onto private property?
  • Why are some people anti-hunter?

There are a number of ways to ask effective questions.  Here are some tips that will help.

  1. Always wait at least 5 seconds for a student to answer. This "wait time" allows the students to gather their thoughts. If you cut them off too soon they will not answer future questions.
  2. Instructor chooses the student to answer. This keeps a few students from dominating the class and students pay more attention if they think they might be called on.
  3. If the student gives the wrong answer, use hints or clues to help the student respond correctly. If they are still unable to answer, ask other students if they have "any other ideas" or if they "want to add something to the answer." Don't ask for "the right answer."
  4. If the answer is incomplete, ask the student to "clarify" their answer.
  5. Don't value answers. If one student gets an "excellent answer" and another a "good answer," the students will soon be competing to win the praise of the instructor and will be disappointed if they don't get it.
  6. Don't put a student and their answering down (i.e., that wasn't a very good answer or that was a dumb response).
  7. Encourage students to ask questions, but redirect the questions to other students to encourage class participation.

The serious issues of hunting ethics, hunter responsibilities, field behavior, attitudes and values about wildlife and hunting pose difficult teaching challenges for the hunter education instructor.  Most successful instructors encourage student involvement and participation by using dilemmas or trigger films to encourage thought and discussion of the material being presented.

Written dilemmas or trigger films are short stories that present a situation requiring a decision. The film "A Measure of the Hunt" is an excellent trigger film and is highly recommended for teaching ethics. The instructor can also find a series of dilemma cards in Annex C.  The dilemmas presented offer the instructor the chance to use this technique in a variety of situations.

So, how does one teach dilemmas? Individual thought and written responses, small group activities, role-playing or skits, and entire class discussion approach might be the most appropriate.

An explanation of this technique probably takes more time than the actual exercise, but once an instructor tries it, the value of dilemma lessons is evident. The key point to remember is that a good dilemma does not have a right or wrong answer, and the instructor should avoid leading the class to a specific conclusion.

After you present the dilemma to the class, summarize the situation and clarify unknown terms, if necessary. Then restate the "should" question. Ideally, the class should be split evenly, or nearly so.  Allow several students to respond, and ask them to explain the reasons for their choices. Try to identify and call upon students with opposing viewpoints.  Involve as many students as time allows.

During this discussion, good questioning techniques become especially important. You must be prepared to modify the situation if necessary ("But what if..?") , to generate more disagreement. Probing, open-ended, divergent questions are essential to maintain class discussion and interest. Here is a sample dilemma and a series of possible questions:

John was hunting elk in a national forest.  As he walked through the stand of timber, John found a wounded cow elk that could not get up.  His license was for bull elk only.  What should John do?

Allow a short time for thought, and then invite responses. If a discussion does not start or if the class seems to all agree, try one or more of the following to get things started.

  • Should John just leave the cow where it is?
  • Should John kill the cow and then leave?
  • Should John kill the cow, field dress it and try to find a game officer or biologist.
  • What if John killed the cow and then a game officer appeared?
  • What if the elk was a small bull instead?
  • Would it make a difference if John had a bull license, and the elk was a six-by-six?
  • What would you do if you were the game officer who found John standing by the cow?

You can imagine how a few well-placed questions could generate some heated discussion.  Here's another quick example.

Larry and his best friend Bill were hunting rabbits on Bill's farm. While they stopped to rest awhile, a red-tailed hawk landed on a nearby tree. Before Larry realized what was happening, Bill picked up his shotgun and shot at the hawk. What should Larry do?

Additional questions:

  • What if Bill explained that his dad wanted the hawks killed to protect his chickens.
  • Or their rabbits?
  • What if Bill's farm was the only place Larry had to hunt?
  • Should Larry call the state police game officer or wildlife biologist?
  • Even if Bill Missed?
  • Would it make a difference if Bill's dad were a game officer or biologist?
  • What would you do?

As you can see, there is a wide range of possibilities. The instructor may be tempted to allow the discussion to go on too long. Do not feel compelled to continue as long as someone wants to talk. In fact, the best time to stop might be when the discussion is at its highest. Take a break, let students talk amongst themselves, and then reconvene and start the next lesson.

Asking the question "Why?" is important to this exercise. If you can help your students examine how they arrived at their decisions, they will be better prepared for future ethical decisions.


See also Policy and Procedure 2.4

The following article by Rebecca B. Towle, a former New Hampshire Hunter Education Coordinator, covers this concern.

Classroom Management for Hunter Education Instructors

When hunter education instructors are candid and honest, they must confess to having self-doubts when it comes to establishing and maintaining classroom control and discipline, we should ask ourselves the question, "What will I do if students step out of line, get silly, or test my authority?"

Although hunter education instructors have few, if any, discipline problems, occasionally difficulties occur.  Instructors should keep in mind that their primary goal is to provide a positive learning experience for everyone. Disruptive students are not learning and they interfere with other students' ability to do so.  It is impossible to learn safety and responsibility in a chaotic situation.  An instructor is under no obligation to tolerate persistent, obnoxious behavior in the class.

Here are 10 simple suggestions for handling disruptive, inattentive or unruly students in a polite, but firm manner:

  1. Your appearance and "presence" in the classroom can set the tone for learning and the lessons you have prepared. Look and act as if you are self-confident and in charge and your students will respond to you in kind. Students will tend to emulate your example and use you as a role model.
  2. Tell the students at the outset exactly what you expect of them: attention, compliance, cooperation and courtesy at all times, and instant responses to directions on the shooting range.  This course concerns safety, respect and responsibility. Students should behave appropriately at all times.
  3. Tell students you take your job as an instructor seriously. This is an important course and they may be asked (told) to leave without certification if they are disruptive.
  4. If students begin talking among themselves, pause and wait in silence, focusing class attention on the disrupters.
  5. Refocus a student's attention by asking a question and calling his/her name.  Ask, "What is your opinion, Joe?" or "What is your question, Sue?"
  6. Students who continue to talk should be separated from one another.
  7. Move in close to a disruptive student and stand very close. This can be intimidating. Try looking the student straight in the eye. At that point, a polite, firm request for silence or attention can by very effective.
  8. Walking slowly around the classroom while lecturing and standing behind disruptive students can be effective. Placing your hand on the shoulder of a chatty person can sometimes remind him/her to be more attentive and courteous.
  9. Cases of "wiggles" and inattention may be cured by a short, stand up break.
  10. If these low-key techniques do not work, be direct and say, "Your behavior is disturbing the class.  Please stop or excuse yourself." Take a student aside during the break or after class and discuss the problem with him/her. Only as a last resort should the student be told to leave. This may be necessary because no one person has the right to disrupt a class for others. As an instructor you should not have to tolerate discourtesy, unnecessary interruptions or unsafe, careless actions.

(Reprinted from HUNTER SAFETY NEWS, Oct./Nov. 1982)


Here are some additional things to consider when creating a good learning environment.

Here are some common-sense "rules" about learning. Use these as guidelines in your classes.  How many of these are new to you?

  1. Learning is the task of the student. Hunter education instructors are fortunate: Generally, only motivated students are involved in our training program. When this is not the case, it is your responsibility to make the student aware of the importance of learning.
  2. People respond to a good learning environment. We've already taken a look at some of the basic elements of good environments.
  3. Discussion and participation are more effective than reading and listening.  Psychologists tell us that people retain about 20 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see, 50 percent of what they see and hear, 70 percent of what they say and hear and 90 percent of what they say and do.  In successful hunter education training, the student is actively involved.  Passive non-activity on the part of the student results in reduced learning.
  4. Learning is most effective when training sessions do not exceed two hours in length.  Always schedule 10-15 minute breaks each hour.
  5. Individuals learn at different rates.  It's important to provide varying lengths of time for practice.  Be prepared for some students to finish ahead of schedule, and for others to need extra study time.
  6. Students learn better when multiple teaching techniques and activities are used. Variety is not only the spice of life; it also plays a vital role in learning. Learning is increased by stimulating several senses especially sight, hearing and touch. Using a variety of teaching methods and techniques as well as combinations of these also increases learning.
  7. It is important for students to know when progress is being made. In most cases, it is self-evident to students when they are progressing.  Nevertheless, it helps to point out when your students are making progress (and to mention/reinforce what progress is being made). Avoid setting up situations where the student will fail or where you dwell on the negative.  These types of activities can have a very negative impact on the learning experience.
  8. As a hunter education instructor you are involved with three types of learning: knowledge, attitude and skill. Our firearms safety and handling sections deal primarily with skills and habits, while the wildlife management and sportsmanship sections of this program involve primarily attitudes and knowledge. Remember that each type of learning requires different teaching styles and methods.
When to have a class?


Ideally, courses would be available year-round, but obviously, there are certain times when demand is greater. Just remember, the more students we teach each spring, the fewer we will have to place in courses during the "crunch period" of August and September and the less pressure there will be to teach crash courses for students who have waited until the last minute. Nevertheless, there will always be a need for classes in the fall.
What is the best schedule?


As a volunteer instructor, you will have to hold courses that fit your own schedule.  Most instructors schedule their classes on evenings over a period of a few weeks.  Some courses are scheduled as a combination of evenings and weekend days to take advantage of available daylight.  Consider having morning or afternoon classes during summer break if your schedule permits.

Avoid scheduling your course on more than two consecutive nights during the school year.  The students don't have time to do any homework or read the manual.  A course should take at least two weeks to complete.  No more than 4 hours should be spent in the classroom on any day and no more than 20 hours total can be classroom time. See Policy and Procedure 3.1

Where to have a class?


The site you select is especially important. It's important to create a good learning environment. Some suggestions include:

  • Choose a site convenient for you and the students.Choose a site with adequate space and facilities (schools, gun clubs or civic clubs).
  • Site should be able to confirm all of your dates
  • Physically inspect the site. Be on the lookout for non-related activities that may be a distraction. Avoid sites that are also being used for adult social activities where there is smoking or use of alcohol.
  • Ensure there are adequate, clean restrooms for both sexes.
  •  Site should have adequate seating, electrical outlets, temperature controls, etc.
  • Site should have wheelchair access for disabled students.
Class size?


Class size should be at least six students and no larger than 25 students per instructor. The ideal class size is between 8-15 students per instructor. Team teaching is a concept that is desirable and effective. It allows a group of instructors to provide a variety of teaching methods and expertise.


Materials and teaching aids should be ordered as far in advance as possible.  As an absolute minimum, request your materials at least three weeks prior to your class.  Order through your area coordinator as soon as the class is scheduled
How do you publicize?


A sample news release is available in the Annex G of this manual.  All that is necessary is to fill in the exact location, dates and times and turn it over to your local newspaper or radio station.  Additional ways to advertise include: 

  • Posters in schools, sporting goods stores
  • The local Oregon State Police Game Division Office
  • Your local ODFW office
  • As soon as the Portland office is notified of your class, it will be posted on the internet.
How do I set up the first class?


First, get to the class early enough to get all your supplies and equipment unloaded and set up.  By the time students begin arriving, you should have everything set up and be ready to greet them as they arrive. 

Make certain chairs and tables are set up so that no one is in front of the overhead projector and so that everyone can see the TV screen. 

Training aids should be covered with a cloth until you are ready to use them.  This avoids the distraction of young people concentrating on what is lying on the table rather than what is being said. 

The student's manual and registration card, as well as other "hand-outs" should be placed on each desk or table for the students before they arrive, or else should be available to them as they enter the door. 

All classes are totally non-smoking environments.  Even adults are required to refrain from smoking during class and breaks.

What is the first move?



Introduce yourself and any assistants or resource people who will be assisting in the course. 

Point out the locations of water fountains, restrooms and emergency exits.  Explain the smoking policy. 

Ask each person to fill out a registration card, printing the information clearly.  (Check these at the first opportunity to make certain they are legible and complete).  Also, have the students fill out the name tent on the backside of the answer sheet.  Have felt tip pens available to the students for this activity.  Parental consent forms must be signed and returned to you before the student attends class. 

Give the class a brief overview of what they will be doing for the rest of the class, and get your class underway. 

During the class


Keep your records up to date. Transfer the information from the individual registration cards to the class roster and use it for a class roll to make certain everyone is present for all the sessions. 

Have the students police the classroom and adjoining areas and replace furniture to its proper place.  Collect all name tents at the close of each class. 

Following each session


Ensure that all instructors sign the course report form and enter the hours they participated. 


Complete all records and return all registration cards - including those not certified - to the Hunter Education office of the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Salem together with a completed course report
Upon completion of the course


NOTE:  It is extremely important that class records reach Portland as soon as possible after the course is completed. Course records must be mailed no later than 15 days after the completion of the course. If you still have retests scheduled at this time, call the Hunter Education office and tell them that your report will be late.

All students in the program will be evaluated in three areas: (1) knowledge, (2) skill and (3) attitude.  Failure to perform successfully in any one of these three areas means failure of the course.  Procedures for evaluating students in these three areas are in Policy and Procedures  2.4, 3.6, 3.7 and 3.61.

 (1)  Knowledge:  A written examination is used to evaluate student knowledge.  All students will take a 60-question test.  Students will each receive a test booklet.  All student answers are to be made on the student answer sheet.  Students are not allowed to make any marks in the student test booklet.

 At the conclusion of the testing period, students will turn in both their test booklets and their answer sheets. Instructors keep all test booklets for future class testing.  Answer sheets are graded by instructors using a grading key.  The passing score for the written examination is 80 percent overall - meaning that students cannot miss more than 12 of the 60 questions. 

REMEMBER:  This is not a reading examination.  Students who have reading difficulty(ies) MUST be given the examination orally, or a parent/other adult may help them read the test questions.  You should offer any students a re-test if you believe they have failed due to poor reading skills.  As students are often reluctant to admit they are poor readers, all students may be given the choice of "oral" or "written" tests.

 (2)  Attitude:  Instructor observations of student classroom performance form the basis for this evaluation.  Student attitude will be evaluated according to the following uniform criteria.  Instructors are encouraged to share these criteria with students during introduction to the course: 

Positive Characteristics 

  • Attentive
  • Prompt Attendance
  • Follows Direction
  • Behaves Well
  • Respectful
    • To Instructor
    • To Others
    • To Property

Negative Characteristics 

  • Does not pay attention
  • Consistenly late
  • Does not follow directions
  • Poor behavior/conduct
  • Shows lack of respect
  • Horseplay
  • Alcohol, tobacco or drug use
  • Misues/abuses equipment
  • Misuse of firearms

Knowing your students individually is essential to this evaluation. Instructors should use the name tents found in the student manual. The name tents will help each instructor put a name with a face very rapidly.  (See Policy and Procedures 2.4

There is no percentage score for the attitude evaluation. Students receive either a pass or fail. They must be expelled from class as soon as the instructor determines that they will not pass. 

Students who are seen to be exhibiting "negative characteristics" must be given a warning with specific instructions on what they need to change. If problems continue, in extreme cases, the student should be told they have failed and must leave the class immediately.  Normally it would be appropriate to contact parents and advise them that the student will fail unless behavior changes. Students who are being failed for "attitude" must not be allowed to remain in class or take the written and practical tests. 

(3)  Skills: See Annex B: Instructor evaluates student performance in a series of field exercises.  Passing score for the field exercise is 100%.  (See Policy and Procedures 3.61

Students who fail to perform an exercise correctly should be coached, allowed to practice and be tested again. This should be repeated until they can demonstrate the skill correctly or until the instructor decides that they do not have the strength, skill or aptitude to pass at this time. Students who repeatedly fail to demonstrate a skill satisfactorily, fail the course.

Choke and Shot Patterns


Want to illustrate to your students how a shotgun's choke can affect the shot pattern?  Get a plastic spray bottle from your local supermarket, the kind with an adjustable nozzle, and fill it with water. When discussing choke and shot patterns, you can start with a fine mist-like spray as "cylinder choke" and then change it to full stream to show the "full choke" effect. Of course, you can vary it anywhere in between. 
Advertising = Attendance


How do you get students to attend your classes?  The word from Wall Street is "Advertise!"  Some classes around the state are always well attended because of the reputation the instructors have developed in the community. Word-of-mouth advertising is often the best kind for business - but it only comes after years of hard work. It works for instructors, too, but word-of-mouth advertising alone is not enough to insure that potential students in your community get the word. Daily and weekly newspapers almost always will carry an announcement of upcoming classes, as will local radio stations. The key to using these services is advance notification. Usually a minimum of two or three weeks advance notice is required - so once you have scheduled a class, be sure to use your local media. Other good forms of advertising are the course announcement posters available at your regional offices.  Get the word out - the students will act! 
Involve Your Students


When introducing the subject of ethics and responsibility to your students, why not allow them to get involved in the teaching?  Explain to your students that people in our society have different images of hunters.  Some of them are positive, while some of them are negative.  Ask your students to help you by listing positive and negative comments about hunters and sport hunting. 

To help get all students involved, first divide your class into small groups.  You can divide the class in half, and assign one-half to brainstorm positive comments and the other half assign to write negative comments.  Or you can break the class into four or five small groups with the same assignment. 

Tell each group that they have 5-10 minutes to conduct their initial work.  Ask each member of each group to write down five words or statements that describe a hunter (either positive or negative statements, depending upon their group).  At the end of the period, ask students to read what they wrote. You-or another student-record all the positive comments on one side of the board, and all the negative comments on the other side of the board.

Once the positive and negative comments are written on the chalkboard for all to see, ask students to discuss each one and explain how each statement either helps or harms the image of the hunter.  You'll find that it's a great way to get students to actively participate in the discussion of ethics and hunter responsibility.

Check It Out


There is an excellent idea to reinforce the basic safety habit of checking the firearm's action and barrel prior to shooting. Naturally, instructors emphasize these points heavily during classroom discussions, but to help insure that the students learn them well, invite a student up to the front of the room. The student is asked to clear the firearm, which usually means that the student will simply check the action and remove the dummy round it contains. When that's the case, the instructor inserts a cleaning rod, which - you guessed it! - shoves an obstructing wad right out onto the floor. The same mistake is not made twice in most classes! 
Pencil vs. Rifle


Here's another idea  from Field & Stream magazine. 

Begin your course by holding up a pencil and a .22 rifle. 

"What's the difference between the pencil and rifle?" You ask the class.


"You can erase what you do with a pencil.  You can never erase what you do with a rifle." 

Can They Read?


Student reading ability always ranks high on the list of instructor's concerns - but all too often instructors don't learn about reading problems until exam night at the end of the class. Obviously if instructors know a student has reading problems, they can help the student (by reading or having the exam read by someone else).  Here are some ways to identify student reading ability: 

A.    Require each student to read aloud at least once during the course.  The "Chapter Reviews" are an excellent way to test student's reading ability without making it appear to be a reading test.  Select students randomly and note those individuals that have difficulty reading the questions or answers. 

B.    If you have a blackboard or flipchart, keep a list of "key words" that frequently stump students.  Definitions - not necessarily reading ability - may be part of the student's problem, and a "key word" list can help all students better prepare for the examination.


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE  ::   Salem, OR 97302   ::    Main Phone (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-ODFW   ::   www.dfw.state.or.us

Contact odfw.web@state.or.us