Brad Wells, of Granada in southern Minnesota, has been named the 2018 firearms safety volunteer instructor of the year, by the Department of Natural Resources. A retired teacher and the assistant coach of his local high school clay target league team, Wells has been the lead firearms safety instructor in his area for the past 18 years. He’s been a firearms safety instructor for more than 20 years.

Wells, who taught elementary school for more than 30 years, has been instrumental in increasing the number of firearms safety instructors in his area. As the number of women and girls signing up for firearms safety has risen in recent years, Wells has responded by working to add more female instructors.

So why does Wells devote so much of himself to teaching others about safe firearms handling, ethical hunting, and Minnesota’s natural resources? According to his fellow instructors, who nominated him for the award, Wells has this to say: “I do this for selfish reasons. That one day you will fill my shoes so that I can see my children, grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren utilize this great resource and shooting sport we fight to preserve.”

Wells also has been active in the Fairmont Trap Club and helped build its rifle and pistol range. He’s secured grants to improve the facility, served on its board of directors, and been part of events hosted there. Wells is active in conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, and seeks out opportunities to educate adults and kids alike about the outdoors.

Volunteer instructors like Brad are what bring the DNR’s safety education programs to life,” said Jen Mueller, southwest regional training officer for the DNR Enforcement Division. “Their dedication to the students, safety and our natural resources is inspiring. We couldn’t be more thankful to have leaders like Brad working alongside us to help foster stronger connections to fishing, hunting and the outdoors.”

More than 4,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR firearms safety courses across the state, annually certifying an average of about 24,000 adults and youth. Since the firearms safety program began in 1955, more than 1.5 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. Certificates become valid at age 12 for 11-year-olds who complete the course.

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