DNR recognizes firearms safety instructors for decades of volunteer service

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division recently recognized two volunteers who between them have taught firearms safety in the state for 110 years. Carl Ireland, of Apple Valley, has been an instructor for 60 years, while Del Haverly, of New London, has been an instructor for 50 years. Minnesota has offered firearms safety training since 1955.

“Volunteers are an essential part of our firearms safety program,” said Jon Paurus, DNR Enforcement education program coordinator. “The commitment these men have made to training others in the safe handling of firearms and ethical conduct afield is inspiring.”

Ireland, who’d been in the U.S. Army Reserve, began his firearms safety career in 1958 after learning about a Boy Scout group in Richfield that wanted to provide its scouts the opportunity to be certified in firearms safety. He’s been the lead instructor of the Apple Valley firearms safety class since 1976 and intends to continue on as long as he’s able. DNR Southeast Metro Regional Training Officer Chelsie Leuthardt and Conservation Officer Joe Kulhanek presented Ireland with his award.

Haverly began his volunteer instructor career in 1968 when a neighbor needed help with class instruction. Since then, he’s touched the lives of many students from a variety of backgrounds. It’s apparent he still has a passion for teaching hunter education and firearms safety, according to Jen Mueller, southwest regional training officer. Mueller and Conservation Officer Shane Vernier presented Haverly with his award.

More than 4,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR firearms safety courses across the state, certifying annually an average of about 24,000 adults and youth. Since the firearms safety program began in 1955, more than 1.3 million students have been certified. DNR firearms safety certification is required of anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979 to buy a hunting license in Minnesota. Youth age 11 and older can attend a firearms safety certification course and receive their certificate, which becomes valid at age 12.

For more information on the dates and locations of available safety courses, see mndnr.gov/safety/firearms/index.html or call 800-366-8917.