Centerville man has devoted life to hunter safetyMay 06, 2021 09:55AM ● By Mark Jones
Norman Beers of Centerville has taught hunter safety for almost six decades in Utah. Courtesy photo
CENTERVILLE—When it comes to hunter safety, Centerville resident Norman Beers knows a thing or two.
Beers is one of two Utah residents to have served as an instructor for nearly 60 years for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, with Albert Orton of Parowan being the other.
Beers began his duties as an assistant instructor in 1958, and it took off from there. And Beers, 82, has no plans of slowing down any time soon, either.
“I’ll teach as long as I’ve got students that want to learn,” he said. “And want to be engaged in the sport of shooting and hunting.”
Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, however, Beers has not been able to work with students for more than a year now. He plans to resume his teaching duties as soon as he is given the green light.
“We had to pull back because of the virus,” he said. “We couldn’t use the classroom and the range. But we’ll be back as soon as we are given the clearance.”
The main point Beers has stressed to his students over the years is just how dangerous a gun can be.
“Every gun is a loaded gun,” he said. “Every gun is a potential weapon. It is our responsibility to enjoy the sport of shooting.”
Utah started its hunter education program in 1957 to help combat one of the highest hunting accident rates in the country. There were 165,081 licensed hunters in the state during that year, and there were 126 reported hunting accidents, of which 22 were fatal.
Soon thereafter, Beers got involved with the program to help reduce the number of accidents. And working with young people over the years is what has kept the Centerville resident motivated to continue to teach.
“I love working with the youth,” he said. “The younger generation needs to learn the safety aspects. I love working with the youth, but we don’t restrict it to age.”
In more recent years, Beers has had help in the classroom from someone special in his life. His wife, Nina, became a certified instructor a little more than 10 years ago and now they team teach.
“We love it,” he said. “We love being together on the range.”
And while the state has postponed all in-class hunter education classes for the time being, Beers says now is the time to prepare if you want to become an instructor. He offers one bit of advice to those who want to teach.
“Learn to use a firearm safely,” he said, “and display it in a safe fashion.”
The majority of those who teach hunter education in the state are volunteers. Since the program began in 1957, there have been approximately 2,500 volunteer instructors. Currently, there are 342 individuals teaching hunter education throughout the state.
While Beers is still thoroughly active in the classroom as an instructor, he does not actively hunt any longer.
“I have given up hunting two or three years ago,” he said. “I haven’t sought a permit, but I still have family that goes. And when they go, (I’m right there with them).”