March 11, 2001 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE An Enterprise author and lecturer has been traveling the continent, telling those who will listen how school shootings such as the one near San Diego can be prevented.

An analysis of school shootings has revealed a pattern, Randall Eaton said. The shooters have suffered from extremely low self- esteem, which allows them to be bullied.

Friends of Santana High School freshman Andy Williams said he was picked on because he would take it, Eaton said.

If the shooters had been properly initiated into adulthood, and hunting had been part of that process, they never would have killed other kids, he said.

For thousands of years, hunting was an initiation into manhood, Eaton said. The rite of passage engenders respect for life, responsibility to society and the environment, authentic self-esteem, self- control and patience, he said.

Guns are not the problem, he said. In a video, Kids Who Hunt, Kids Who Dont, Eaton interviews two experts.

One is Helen Smith, a Knoxville, Tenn., psychologist and author of Scarred Hearts. Smith, a leading authority on violence in children, has profiled 3,000 violent kids.

Neuropsychologist Jim Rose of the University of Wyoming at Laramie specializes in adolescent development. Both favor shooting and hunting activities for young people.

Part of Eatons latest documentary is filmed in Wallowa County and features an interview with J.D. Brock, 12, who lives near Flora.

In the video, Brock talks about the meaning of hunting and what it has done for him and his character.

Eaton, 57, said Brock is an example of a young person who has a better chance of growing up with respect for all life because he understands the consequences of pulling the trigger.

Eaton is the award-winning author of The Sacred Hunt: Rite of Passage, written after he studied the role of hunting in behavioral evolution and cultural history.

In The Sacred Hunt II, hunters testify that initiation via hunting has provided them a spiritual experience.

Respect for life starts with the food chain ... when we participate directly in it, Eaton said.

Often called upon to speak to hunting groups, Eaton triggered a wave of criticism from gun-control and animal-rights activists when he presented his views at the annual conference of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters on Feb. 24 in Ontario, Canada.

Some of the views of gun-control advocates are expressed by Wendy Cukier.

The more you expose youth to guns, the more theyll misuse them. Its a way to market guns to kids, said Cukier, who founded the Coalition for Gun Control after the 1989 shooting deaths of 14 women at Montreals Ecole Polytechnique.

Eaton said he has the research to back up his position that hunting can develop a young persons self-worth.

Eaton cited a survival program in southern Utah in which wayward youth were required to live off the land in the wilderness for two weeks, with only their clothes, a sleeping bag and a pocket knife.

They gathered plants, berries and roots, but became hungry for meat, he said.

The youth delighted in eating their prey, directly experiencing cause-and-effect, Eaton said. In relating to what they ate and how they felt, they made leaps forward in self-esteem and confidence, he said.

Hunting is enjoyable; its an instinct, but that doesnt mean the taking of an animals life is fun, he said.

Eaton described one of the meanest boys the program leader had seen in 13 years as having been nearly beaten to death with a shotgun and was full of hate. He lashed his knife to a stick and used it to spear a marmot. He held it dying in his lap, watching its eyes glaze over. Then he broke down and grieved. He wept heavily for two days, releasing years of anger and pain, Eaton said.

The marmot gave him food, but more importantly it gave him back his heart and initiated him into manhood in one hunt a necessary condition for holding all life sacred, according to Eaton.

When a kid takes an animals life, they discover the consequences ... and are less likely than anyone to take a humans life, Eaton said, adding that they know that discharging a firearm is for real Its not a video game.

Surveys a year later of the Utah wilderness program indicated that 85 percent of the boys had not been in trouble, Eaton said.