Gunning for safety

Published 9:16 am Monday, April 9, 2012

Charlie Schmidt, left, helps students register for the firearm safety class on Wednesday.

“Nobody out there is Superman,” Charlie Schmidt said. “If you pull the trigger, you can’t stop that bullet.”

Schmidt, along with Durlin Hensch and Bob Stillings, has been teaching a firearm safety course for the last 30 years. All three men volunteer their time so people can learn how to properly handle a firearm and be able to enjoy using them.

Last Wednesday, the first class of the spring session was held at the Moose Lodge. More than 70 students ranging from 12-years-old to adult packed into the event room for a five-week training in firearm safety.

Durlin Hensch, right, helps students gather pamphlets, books and fliers to help them learn about firearm safety and hunting.

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The class will be held once a week. Following the five-week classroom portion, students will have a hands-on test at Oak Grove Gun Club on May 5 to earn their firearm safety certificate.

To incorporate archery, another pastime for hunters, Larry Hill and Brian Ziebell of the Full Draw Archery Club come in and teach students the right ways to handle a bow and invite them to visit the club.

On top of learning the parts of a firearm, students will learn the Ten Commandments of safe gun handling and also basic survival skills.

The class has a strict tone to it because the instructors want to stress how important safety is.

Each year the instructors receive a synopsis of the firearms accidents that have happened. In Minnesota in 2011, there were two fatalities, 29 injuries and 10 of the injuries were self-inflicted.

Hensch, who was a sheriff’s deputy, got into teaching because while on the job he was sent to an accidental shooting and wanted to make a difference.

“We’ll never know if we’ve prevented an accident,” Hensch said. “We just hope we have.”