Our firearm hunting essentials certificate is proof that you can do all of this! If you've got your certificate, give yourself a pat on the back. It's something to be proud of. 

Hunting Essentials:

Having completed the hunting essentials course, you'll be able to:

  1. Using maps
    1. Recognise and reference the main features of a Topo50 map
    2. Describe handrails and how to use them to help plan hunting
    3. Confidently use map grid references
    4. Estimate walking time on different terrain
    5. Find more map support and resources.

  2. Using a compass
    1. Differentiate between grid north and magnetic north
    2. Turn a map to face north in real life
    3. Find bearings on a map and follow them in reality
    4. Find back bearings from landmarks and plot them on maps
    5. Do a resection to find your position
    6. Avoid common mistakes that reduce accuracy with compass navigation.

  3. Nav communications and technology
    1. Identify different options for radio, GPS, phone and satellite comms devices and their benefits and drawbacks
    2. Describe properties and limitations of GPS on phones and devices
    3. Identify where to get the best signal for devices
    4. Explain what airplane mode does, and the importance of caching/loading maps
    5. Identify useful functions of phone and GPS device nav apps
    6. Describe ways hunters often use satellite communications
    7. Find apps and resources to get practical with phone apps.

  4. River safety for hunters
    1. Describe the benefits of learning about your rivers
    2. Describe the risks for hunters when crossing rivers
    3. Identify what to consider before crossing a river
    4. Explain how to cross safely solo and as a group
    5. Explain what to do if you get stuck or washed away
    6. Find more courses and information.

  5. Making good fires
    1. Set up fires that minimise the risk of spread in the backcountry
    2. Identify good lighting and tinder options
    3. Explain where to find dry wood in the wet
    4. Avoid common mistakes hunters make that risk wildfires
    5. Find fire risk statuses before heading out
    6. Describe the requirements for fires on public land.

  6. Backcountry first aid
    1. Identify common backcountry injuries, and ways to avoid or handle them
    2. Identify what to take in a first aid kit
    3. Find and prepare ‘as you need it’ advice and guidance
    4. Describe what PLBs are and make good usage decisions.

  7. Survival
    1. Explain the importance of a good survival kit 
    2. Identify items to include in your survival kit
    3. Explain the importance of having your survival kit on your person at all times
    4. Make good decisions on when to bed down for a night unexpectedly
    5. Make good decisions around survival site selection and building shelters 
    6. Explain the importance of emergency contacts and shared trip plans, and find tools to help write those
    7. Explain how to help rescuers find you, signal and communicate.

  8. Taking the right gear
    1. Categorise between must-have and nice-to-have gear to take hunting
    2. Explain the importance of layering
    3. Identify special features of hunting gear 
    4. Describe how deer can’t see blaze and the safety benefits
    5. Identify common foods people take hunting
    6. Identify different ways hunters do 'day bags' and what you might want to carry.

  9. Accessing hunting areas
    1. Explain why it's important to follow land access rules (and the negative impacts on all hunters when even one of us doesn't)
    2. Make good decisions inline with the outdoor access code
    3. Describe your responsibilities and what you can and can’t do when carrying a firearm on different land types
    4. Make decisions aligned with best practice when faced with common land-access challenges and situations 
    5. Get a hunting permit for public conservation land
    6. Use websites to find hunting permissible public land
    7. Identify other ways to gain access to hunting land
    8. Describe what you can do to improve the odds of more and better land access in future.

  10. Weather forecasting
    1. Describe the importance of hunting into the wind 
    2. Identify common weather-forecasting websites and tools 
    3. Describe what highs and lows are and what they mean for weather 
    4. Estimate likely local weather patterns based upon forecasts and topography
    5. Explain how catabatic flow works and what this means for hunting decisions 
    6. Describe how game animals tend to behave in different weather.

  11. How to hunt
    1. Describe four main ways to hunt mountainous New Zealand bush
    2. Identify broad behavioural tendencies of game animals and how that can inform your hunting decisions
    3. Describe good practice hunting techniques
    4. Recognise some game sign and estimate ‘freshness’
    5. Use reference tools to figure out where good hunting opportunities are.

  12. Situational awareness
    1. Explain the benefits being situationally aware can provide to hunting 
    2. Consider common aspects of situational awareness in hunting
    3. Consider situational awareness as it relates to game behaviour
    4. Use situational awareness to plan ahead and minimise risk
    5. Respond appropriately to common personal and group situational risk factors
    6. Make the best call in common and realistic situational risk situations. 
    7. Consider reflective thinking techniques to improve hunting trips in future.

  13. Knives
    1. Identify types of knife used for hunting and related activities.
    2. Identify how to hold and use a knife to avoid cutting yourself and others
    3. Explain first aid procedures for knife wounds 
    4. Explain how to carry & store knives safely in the field and in public
    5. Describe different ways to hone and sharpen knives 
    6. Explain how to maintain good knives.

  14. Meat safety
    1. Find out about poison drops and risks in your hunting areas
    2. Explain the use of caution periods and buffer zones
    3. Identify who you can and can't share wild meat with
    4. Identify ways to avoid meat contamination and spoilage
    5. Describe best practice for transporting game meat on and in vehicles
    6. Identify signs of disease or contamination
    7. Identify symptoms of consuming bad meat and what to do about it.

  15. Meat processing and carry out (field dressing)
    1. Describe different ways to process hunted game
    2. Consider meat recovery with a conservation and sustainability perspective
    3. Identify the critical meat-safety steps in field dressing game
    4. Organise field dressing steps into the correct order
    5. Identify helpful tricks and tips to make field dressing safer and easier
    6. Identify ways to carry game
    7. Find and load reference resources for offline use in the field. 

  16. Game animal management
    1. Describe what game animal management is
    2. Identify the benefits of game animal management
    3. Explain why game animal management principles are important for the future of hunting
    4. Address the perceived downsides of a game animal management methodology
    5. Identify, by forest and animals, the health of a forest and which game to take accordingly
    6. Explain how to share this with other hunters
    7. Find more information.

  17. Hunting ethics
    1. Describe the concepts of kaitiakitanga, guardianship and sustainability and what that means for the backcountry
    2. Explain what sentience is, and the importance of fast, effective killing of game animals
    3. Describe ways some different cultures choose to honour game animals before, during and after hunting 
    4. Identify common legal and ethical restrictions for hunting 
    5. Make the ethical decision in common ethically challenging hunting situations
    6. Make good decisions based upon the Outdoor Access Code
    7. Find the Codes of Conduct for New Zealand hunting associations and organisations.

  18. Our backcountry community
    1. Explain how the perceptions of hunters and hunting from other backcountry users can be very damaging (if negative) and helpful (if positive) for hunters
    2. Identify some of the core things you can do as a hunter to contribute to the backcountry and build positive relationships
    3. Identify common ettiquette and behavioural mistakes hunters can make and how to avoid them
    4. Navigate ways to encourage smarter behaviour from hunting friends and colleagues.

Firearm Essentials:

Having completed the firearm essentials course, you'll be able to:

  1. Firearm selection, parts and build
    1. Recall key firearm part and purchasing knowledge from the FSA Firearm Safety Code
    2. Identify common firearms and calibres used in big game hunting
    3. Identify the correct ‘view’ in a scope and how to set up your rifle to get that more consistently
    4. Explain the purpose and competent use of key peripherals 
    5. Describe key rifle fit/sizing considerations and rules of thumb
    6. Identify what to look for in a second hand rifle
    7. Identify when to update the Firearms Registry
    8. Describe the postage / purchasing process for firearms and ammunition.

  2. Sighting in your rifle
    1. Explain the benefits and importance of correctly zeroing your rifle
    2. Identify where you can zero in your rifle and identify the safety precautions to take when not at a range
    3. Identify the key equipment needed for zeroing 
    4. Describe key sighting and ballistics terms
    5. Describe how to bore-sight a rifle
    6. Describe the considerations you may wish to take to sight in at distances beyond 100m
    7. Explain how to zero your rifle
    8. Find further ballistics tools and resources.

  3. Firearm maintenance
    1. Identify and use the gear needed for basic rifle maintenance
    2. Explain how the two main types of fouling occur in rifle bores
    3. Describe the properties of the different metals involved in bore fouling and how that relates to cleaning tool selection and use
    4. Perform the steps to do a basic clean on a rifle
    5. Identify tools and tips to keep a clean rifle in the field
    6. Oil a rifle to prevent degradation while in storage
    7. Consider fouling shots for accurate shooting after cleaning.

  4. Storage and transport
    1. Explain why safe firearm storage is so important
    2. Identify methods to make your firearms safe at home, in transport and while hunting
    3. Explain how to safely store firearms at home in line with legal requirements
    4. Make calls around transporting firearms in vehicles that are best practice and legal
    5. Explain how to use public transport (planes, ferries..) with firearms
    6. Find more resources and guidance.

  5. Firearm safety for hunters
    1. Contextualise the seven firearm safety rules in hunting contexts
    2. Describe the kinds of incidents that can occur when firearm safety rules are neglected
    3. Correctly match states of readiness to hunting situations
    4. Describe common risk moments for hunters and how to lower the risk.

  6. Hunting with others
    1. Describe ways to hunt with friends/as a group
    2. Identify the critical communication aspects to all group hunting
    3. Identify the risks involved in group hunting
    4. Describe key safety approaches to different types of group hunting
    5. Describe options for when hunters don’t get back to camp
    6. Plan hunting areas and communication plans for hunting individually in shared country.

  7. Firearm technique
    1. Explain where and how to practice shooting techniques safely
    2. Correctly identify best practice firing fundamentals 
    3. Identify best practice in each of the key firing positions, and identify their pros and cons
    4. Describe best practice for makeshift firing stands 
    5. Explore other tips and tricks.

  8. Night hunting
    1. Explain why night hunting is an effective and efficient hunting method
    2. Identify where you can hunt at night
    3. Describe different night-hunting technologies, their benefits and performance/safety limitations
    4. Respond well to identified differences and challenges in night hunting vs day hunting
    5. Apply the firearm safety rules in a night hunting context
    6. Describe the best practice for a typical night hunting trip at each stage of the process
    7. Identify and respond to the most common night hunting risks.

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