Hunter education in South Carolina has entered the computer age by offering an Internet and CD-ROM home study course with videos, photos, interactive games and quizzes.

A student can study at home at his or her own pace, score 80 or above on pre-exam and then take the final exam with a state hunter education instructor.

Since 1974, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) through its law enforcement division has conducted and sponsored nationally certified hunter education courses across South Carolina through local schools and organizations and about 175 volunteer instructors. The 10-hour hunter education course is mandatory for all resident and nonresident South Carolina hunters born on or after June 30, 1979, and voluntary for other hunters.

South Carolina hunter education students now have four choices for becoming nationally certified in hunter safety. They can sign up to take the traditional classroom course with instructor; take a home study course from manual and workbook; take the new CD-ROM course at home; or take the online hunting safety course. The CD-ROM and online courses fulfill the same requirements as the 10-hour classroom course and are available by calling (803) 734-3995 in Columbia or 1-800-277-4301 Monday through Friday during business hours, or by visiting www.dnr.sc.gov/education/interneteduc.html.

The state hunter education course-whether classroom, home study, CD-ROM or Internet-includes instructions in the principles of hunter safety and conservation. Students also gain knowledge of basic wildlife management principles, hunting ethics, hunter-landowner relations and hunting techniques. Students taking classroom courses must have a No. 2 pencil and Social Security number to attend classes, which are free unless noted.

To receive certification through the CD-ROM or Internet classes, the student must complete all quizzes and the test at the end of the CD. The student must have an 80 percent pass rate on the score sheet printed out at the conclusion of the CD, and each must sign the score sheet stating he or she has done the work. The student can then call 1-800-277-4301 to schedule an appointment to take the certified hunter education final exam in their area.

"The CD-ROM and online self-study courses are an alternative delivery method for those interested in hunter education," said Lt. Jimmy Wagers, state coordinator for the DNR Hunter and Boater Education program. "We still encourage young people to enroll in a class which is being taught by qualified instructors."

The state Hunter Education classroom course is taught by certified volunteer instructors and S.C. Department of Natural Resources instructors in middle schools, high schools and night classes such as technical schools, colleges, civic clubs, industries and sportsmen's groups. The course is taught through lectures, slides, videos and training aids. The statewide schedule for hunter education classroom courses is posted on-line at the DNR Web site under "Education." Students must pre-register for classroom courses.

South Carolina hunter education graduates receive certificates recognized by all states requiring mandatory hunter education. About 8,500 new hunter education students are certified annually in South Carolina, and these new means of teaching could increase the number of students. The South Carolina hunter education course on CD-ROM and via the Internet includes video of actual wildlife for learning field identification, hunting, game practices, interactive games and quizzes.