What is the Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP)?
The STEP program offers a broad range of learning opportunities for beginners as well as experienced hunters with a special emphasis on teaching basic wing-shooting techniques and fundamentals. The program projects a positive image toward hunting and general acceptance of responsible gun ownership. Another important purpose for the program is to increase youth interest in wildlife conservation and outdoor activities. In addition, the program exposes participants to the use of nontoxic shot to develop hunter confidence in lead-free shot shell alternatives.
History and Accomplishments
The Department started the STEP program in 1995. Department personnel were provided training through the Cooperative North American Shotgun Education Program (CONSEP). CONSEP’s ballistic consultant has conducted several workshops and lectures in Oklahoma for department personnel and the general public and continues to provide technical data to the program as it becomes available.
The STEP program conducts about 100 programs per year. These programs provide wing-shooting opportunities to approximately 9,000 participants. Youth (<18) comprise about 63% while females make up 25% of the participants.
Goals & Objectives
The STEP program goals and objectives include:
- Providing wing shooting opportunities to the public.
- Improving hunters' wing-shooting and hunting skills.
- Educating hunters to nontoxic shotshell technology.
- Promoting safe gun handling.
- Hunter retention.
- Hunter retention and public shooting opportunities – The retention of hunters is accomplished by presenting programs and providing wing-shooting opportunities to various groups that traditionally have little or no exposure to these activities. Such groups include women’s organizations, youth groups, and school groups as well as other events where the general public is in attendance. These open public events also provide wing-shooting exposure to many newcomers who have never tried shotgun shooting.
- Improving hunter skills – Improving hunter skills is accomplished by presenting:
- Wing Shooting Workshop – These workshops are acceptable to any group regardless of skill level. Participants are exposed to shotgun wing-shooting fundamentals and techniques by department instructors. The workshops also provide an opportunity to experience shooting non-toxic shot in an effort to dispel misconceptions surrounding their use.
- Hunter Skills Workshop – These workshops address hunter skills and education in an effort to improve hunter efficiency. It takes participants, from any skill level, through various exercises that enable them to evaluate their personal wing shooting skills, assess their range estimation skill, and measure their equipment (gun/choke/load) selection and performance.
The STEP program assists in fulfilling the department’s mission by:
- Promoting responsible hunter behavior.
- Improving hunter image to non-hunting public.
- Increasing acceptance of nontoxic shot.
- Continuing hunting tradition/heritage.
- Ensuring continued funding sources for wildlife program
For additional information contact:
Damon Springer - Senior Communication & Education Specialist