13 Apr 2022 SimWay Hunt simulator: An educational and training tool for young hunters
The participation of youth in hunting is widely recognised as providing key knowledge about nature and a deep understanding of wildlife management and animal welfare. Furthermore, promoting youth in hunting is essential for transferring hunting traditions and culture to younger generations. All FACE Members are engaged in promoting youth in hunting and there are many great initiatives across Europe. One of them is by Simway Hunt, which is proud to share news about its role as an education/training tool for youth engagement in hunting.
Nordic hunter associations and several of their regional and local hunting clubs are working together with SimWay Hunt. For example, hunters in the Maalahti area in Finland are working together to encourage young hunters to advance their shooting skills – using several cooperative methods including the SimWay Hunt simulator.
Reliving the scene: Sustaining hunting all year:
As we enter the scene, the hunting club’s hut is packed with fathers, sons and daughters. The projector screen covering the back wall shows how to hunt wild boar, elk and bear. The entire crowd is gathered around the SimWay Hunt simulator, cheering the current two players: Mikael Kärkinen from Sulva, who came to shoot with his son Emil. Mikael sums up the simulator’s benefits: ‘’This is a fun way to carry on together with our hunting hobby all year round.’’
The shooting simulator has become a versatile form of collaboration between seven different hunting clubs in Finland. Gathered together, there are hunters from the two largest clubs from Yttermalax and Övermalax as well as from Sulva. The simulator is located at Yttermalax hunting club’s hut and it is actively used by more than thousand club members. “The association is supported by its members, but others come to the hut to practice, they pay a small rent to cover the heating costs”, explains the shooting range master Karl-Gustaf Hietanen.
Cooperation and competition:
The simulator provides an excellent tool to give our youth a taste of the hunting experience, to inspire them to join the hunting community. “For young people, it feels natural to use new tech like the Simway simulator. More mature hunters, on the other hand, prefer air rifle and outdoor range shooting”, tells President Ola Sandqvist of the Övermalax hunting club. However, Karl-Gustaf Hietanen further shows that simulator shooting is a good option for more mature members, too. By raising the difficulty level, you can up the challenge. “When we get an adapter that connects to your own weapon, all this becomes even more realistic”, Hietanen says.
Cooperation certainly plays a major role in creating versatile training opportunities. With that, seven hunting clubs have also joined forces and operate a shared rifle and shotgun shooting range. These two shooting ranges are run by volunteers who have their own dedicated training shift; and shooting exercises and trainings for young people and women are organised regularly. ” You can try it out without owning a gun, we will guide you in the beginning”, Hietanen says.
Members are encouraged to practice shooting with a specialised scoring system, with a prize of a deer hunting season pass. The competitions between and within clubs are hoped to inspire members to train more. “By modifying the rules, a bit, you get some nice variety for shooting”, Sandqvist says as a tip.
Investments in Youth Work:
In Maalahti, they work hard for young people. Clubs have been thinking hard about ways to activate young people through practical means such as easy to gain membership, summer camps and the simulator. “Children when they get to 10 to 12-year-olds become excited about hunting, they certainly are potential future members”, Sandqvist thinks. Half of the participants in the simulator evening are school children, so the club’s future seems secure. “The aging hunter situation for us is the same as elsewhere, the average age of hunters is over 50 years. Activating young people is a major challenge that the simulator, for its part, seeks to solve”, Sandqvist reflects.
“The results of the clubs’ youth work are already visible in activities. There are many children attending the events and people are willing to explore our hobby boldly”, says Janne Björklund, director of The Maalahti Game Keeping Association.
Cooperation for greater achievements
SimWay Hunt recommends following the great example of cooperation between hunting clubs in Maalahti. Clubs here are putting their energy into collaborating in different forms of hunting, training events, shooting training, youth camps and the development of the village community in terms of atmosphere and activities. Cooperation between clubs enables versatile training. The clubs also organise wilderness-related events and training for school children together and on their own. Through this association, hunting clubs teach young people about game management and safe handling of firearms. All essential skills for any person, all in a cooperative environment.
Övermalax and Yttermalax clubs take pride in their long tradition of cooperation. They meet annually to agree among other things on future events, the compensation sums for managing small predators and carrot-feed purchases for winter game feeding. A joint hunt is also organised annually. The community spirit, hunting, and conservation ensures that more and more young hunters will continue to join hunting clubs.
For more information on SimWay, check out their website at: