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The International Hunter Education Association recommends the following Bowhunter Education Standards as minimum standards for developing and teaching bow hunter education programs across North America:

The Bowhunter Education Standards are minimum guidelines adopted by the International Hunter Education Association and used by hunter education administrators in those states, provinces, and territories which have bowhunter education courses separate from basic hunter education courses. Such standards will be particularly useful in reciprocity decisions where separate bowhunter education courses are required as licensing requirements. The standards were developed by a committee of hunter education professionals concerned with reciprocity among jurisdictions, bowhunter recruitment, and with methods and materials for bowhunter education. These standards are influenced by the International Bowhunter Education Program, administered by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation.

Assumptions about these standards and the process for setting standards:

Ongoing process - Revisions will be made as needed by the International Hunter Education Association.

Minimum guidelines - Each jurisdiction is encouraged to increase the coverage and diversity of learning objectives.

Knowledge and skill evaluations are stressed in these performance-based student learning objectives. These objectives are best met through hands on activities and live demonstrations, as well as classroom activities. Jurisdictions and or sponsoring organizations are encouraged to schedule adequate time to ensure that each student is personally involved to achieve these objectives.

The establishment of these standards is based on the assumption that jurisdictions or sponsoring organizations will set standards for instructor qualifications.

The International Hunter Education Association recommends the following as the minimum standards for teaching bowhunter education:


GOAL 1 - Introduction: To introduce students to the unique aspects and history of bowhunting and why bowhunter education is important.

Rationale: Students will understand that bowhunting is a unique form of hunting that may require new and different skills from firearm hunting, and know why bowhunter education is important.

Objectives: (In-group activities, or individually, appropriate, students will be able to)

  1. List at least two ways in which bowhunting differs from hunting with a firearm. (Source of power is from bending the limbs of the bow, rather than fromgunpowder; the bowhunter's body takes the place of a stock in shooting bows without stocks or cocking devices; bowhunters must get closer to the game than firearms hunters; bowhunting relies on cutting and bleeding to produce humane kills, rather than shock)
  2. Know about the history of bowhunting and bowhunter education. (Bows and arrows were major hunting tools throughout most of human existence; elements of Native American hunting methods and European archery traditions were combined in the 19th and 20th centuries to become recreational bowhunting; before bowhunter education, formal opportunities to learn the special knowledge and skills required for bowhunting were rare.)
  3. List at least two reasons why bowhunter education is important. (Bowhunters need to know about specialized equipment and techniques to become effective and responsible bowhunters; it is important for bowhunters to realize the limitations of bowhunting equipment; to help bowhunters be successful, avoid wounding game, and present a responsible public image to protect the future of bowhunting, etc.)
  4. Understand and describe why you and others want to hunt and bowhunt. (Relief from pressures of work or school; enjoyment of nature; shared experiences with friends; source of healthy meat; added challenge; expanded hunting opportunities; more natural hunting situations; increased satisfaction due to the extra effort involved, etc.)
  5. State how hunter education efforts are funded. (National, State, Provincial and local sources; Federal aid in wildlife restoration, local standards etc.)

GOAL 2 - Bowhunter Responsibilities: To encourage students to be responsible by teaching legal and ethical hunting practices.

Rationale: Poor hunting behavior is cited as the number one reason people oppose hunting. Safe, responsible and legal behavior helps protect resources, people and property.

Objectives: (In-group activities, or individually, as appropriate, students will be able to)

  1. List at least five words describing a responsible bowhunter. (Courteous, capable, careful, ethical, legal, helpful, conservationist, considerate, etc.)
  2. List to whom and to what a bowhunter has responsibility and describe responsible action in regard to each. (PEOPLE: Self, other hunters, future hunters, landowners, non-hunters, etc. Self respect, and others have rights and feelings that must be considered. WILDLIFE & ENVIRONMENT: Game hunted, other wildlife, the environment. Game deserves respect and humane treatment, all wildlife, their habit and the environment must be used wisely and supported.)
  3. Understand that there are many more non-hunters than hunters, and list three reasons nonhunters disapprove of hunting, and why. (Hunters are careless and dangerous; hunters are unskilled and wound game; hunters leave wounded game to suffer and die; hunters waste animals they kill; hunters trespass; hunters disregard laws; hunters kill rare and endangered animals. Knowledge of and disapproval of hunters and hunting are often based on actions of irresponsible hunters, and stories of irresponsible hunters repeated by hunters and non-hunters alike.)
  4. List three actions hunters can demonstrate to present a positive public image. (Cover game from sight when traveling home from a hunt, clean up before going into town, present a professional image in public when talking about hunting/conservation, don't drink and hunt, eat game that is taken, take tasteful photographs, etc.)
  5. Explain the importance of establishing your own "zone of shooting confidence". (To define the range at which you are assured of making vital and trackable hits on animals of a particular species.)
    1. List three possible results of taking long shots. (Increased chance of missing vital area; increased chance of deflection on unnoticed brush; animal can move before arrow strikes; increased possibility of wounding; resulting adverse public relations.)
  6. State three reasons for the existence of hunting laws and how laws are passed. (Public safety, opportunity, fair chase, fair share, conservation of resources, etc.; federal and state/ provincial statutes, regulatory processes, local ordinances and policies.)
    1. Find/look up information from state! provincial bowhunting laws that addresses issues such as:
      1. Where to obtain licenses,
      2. Legal hunting seasons.
      3. Legal methods and equipment for all bowhunters.
      4. Legal methods and equipment for bowhunters with disabilities
      5. Tagging requirements.
      6. Transporting requirements.
      7. Trespassing laws
      8. Penalties and violations.

GOAL 3 - Introduction to Bowhunting Equipment: To introduce students to the various types of bowhunting equipment, and the importance of properly matched equipment.

Rationale: Knowledge of the diverse types of bowhunting equipment is necessary to make appropriate choices in equipment. All bowhunting equipment requires special knowledge, skills, and preparation for effective use.

Objectives: (Students will be able to)

  1. Identify the basic parts and features of at least three basic items of archery equipment used for bowhunting. (Bows, sights, arrows, quivers, finger protection or release aids.)
  2. Describe differences between compound bows, recurve/long bows and crossbows. (Longbows/recurve bows and compound bows use the bowhunter's body as a cocking and shooting platform. Crossbows use a stock as a cocking and shooting platform. Recurve and long bows have a pair of simple limbs connected by a string, and the force required to pull the string increases with the distance pulled. Compound bows have eccentric wheels or cams connected to the limbs, cables, and string, and provide a reduction in the force required to hold the string back at full draw.)
  3. List three ways bowhunting equipment must be properly matched. (Bow matched to bowhunter's size, strength and shooting style ; arrows matched to bow and archer ;arrows matched to each other; all equipment matched to type of game.)
  4. Describe the utility and possible drawbacks of various types of accessory equipment. (Sights, release aids, overdraws, range finders, arrow holders, bow holders, string trackers and other tracking aids, various clothing options, binoculars and other optics, wind detectors, scents and scent cover/elimination devices, calls, decoys, etc. all have uses, but require extra effort, care, knowledge, and may have other drawbacks.)
  5. Explain how a broadhead works and the importance of razor-sharp blades and other aspects of selecting a broadhead. (Kills through bleeding, not shock; extreme sharpness needed to cut rubbery blood vessels; choose appropriate weight, size, design, for proper flight, strength, reliability, and cutting effectiveness.)

GOAL 4 - Bowhunting Methods: To introduce students to a variety of bowhunting methods appropriate for various species of game in various habitats and conditions.

Rationale: Knowledge of different bowhunting methods and when to use them will enhance the student's enjoyment of bowhunting and the likelihood for success.

Objectives: (Students will be able to)

  1. Name and identify the most common game species hunted. (Local and distant big and small game species, which may be legally taken by bowhunters.)
  2. Identify signs (in a field demonstration if possible) to indicate presence of game. (Browsing, tracks, mating activity, etc.)
    1. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the following bowhunting techniques:
      1. Still hunting and stalking - (most versatile, mobile, exciting, but great skill required to avoid detection by scent, sound, and sight.)
      2. Ground blinds - (Surface and pit blinds -safe and versatile, but visibility, scent and freedom of movement are critical elements.)
      3. Elevated stands - (position above sight and scent make them effective, but danger of falling, increased visible exposure especially to distant deer, lack of mobility, and poor shot angles at close deer can be disadvantages.)
  3. Through a field demonstration if possible, describe different types of tree stands and their advantages and disadvantages. (Elevated stands, tripods, etc. - safe but bulky, but tripods useful where no suitable trees are present; Hang-on stands - versatile and small, but require climbing equipment; Climbing stands - require no other climbing equipment, but often practical only on straight, limbless trees. However, they are versatile since they can also be used like a hang-on stand.)
  4. Through a field demonstration if possible, describe the dangers associated with all types of elevated stand hunting techniques, and the value of fall restraint systems, full-body harnesses, climbing belts and haul lines. (Falls a real possibility, especially when climbing up or down, and entering/exiting stand; fall restraint systems should prevent falls, and climbing belts should hold hunter up whenever his or her feet leave the ground. Harnesses should provide support without injury or suffocation. Haul lines must always be used to raise and lower bows and other equipment.)
  5. Identify the location of the vital organs of various game animals and explain why this area should be the bowhunter's only target. (Heart, lung, liver area is largest concentration of organs and blood vessels that will produce rapid death when cut with sharp blades. Hits here usually produce a blood trail, and offer the greatest margin for error in shot placement.)
  6. Understand how shot angle affects the bowhunter's ability to make an effective shot. (Actual target is inside the animal, so entry point on surface of animal varies with angle of shot. Vital area is guarded by large bones from some angles, especially from the front and extreme rear angles. Best angles are broadside and quartering away. Avoid shots when an animal is looking toward the shooter to avoid "jumping the string." Shots from a steep angle above animal reduce effective size of vital area, and shots entering above or behind vital area may result in reduced blood trail.)

GOAL 5 - Bowhunting Preparation and Safety: To help students learn the importance of preparation for a safe and successful hunt, and to avoid hazards while hunting.

Rationale: Preparation for each bowhunt is essential for safety and success. Knowledge of how to deal with the possible hazards of hunting is essential for survival, and for helping others.

Objectives: (Students will be able to)

  1. Explain how to practice for bowhunting. (Wear hunting clothes to develop shooting style compatible with hunting conditions. First learn basic archery by shooting at spot targets; then practice using targets without aiming spots, to simulate aiming at game. Practice in hunting conditions to duplicate terrain, weather, body positions, using stands, blinds, etc. Use broadheads on appropriate targets.)
  2. Through a field demonstration if possible, demonstrate the importance of learning to judge distance (Bow sighting physics—especially if using a sight—and arrow trajectory make accurate distance estimation a very critical element for accurate shooting. Distance judging becomes more critical at longer ranges.)
  3. Understand the causes, prevention, symptoms and field treatments of hypothermia and heat exhaustion and two factors, which cause each. (Hypothermia—the cooling down of core body temperature caused by cold, wind and wet conditions coupled with lack of preparation, emergency preparedness, mental state and knowledge demonstrated by victim and any companions; heat exhaustion is the heating up of the core body temperature caused by hot, sunny and humid/dry conditions coupled with same factors as with hypothermia plus lack of water.)
  4. List the common types of bowhunting injuries and how to prevent them. (FALLS - proper use of fall restraints, climbing belts and haul lines; BLEEDING INJURIES - proper use of hooded quivers, broadhead wrenches, and cautious and proper use ofknives.)
  5. Give three major hunting/outdoor scenarios if possible, which make it important for every hunter to know first aid and/or CPR training. (Heart attack, falls, altitude sickness, burns, knife/broadhead cuts, allergies, animal bites, shock, etc.)
  6. Through a field demonstration, use a map and compass to determine direction and demonstrate how to avoid getting lost (orient map with compass north arrow, decide direction between two points, find direction of landmarks to determine route, etc.)
  7. List the basic elements for a survival pack in the nearby hunting areas. (Tools, materials for signaling, shelter construction, fire building, first aid, water)
  8. List three methods of signaling for help when lost in the outdoors. (Signals of three, signal signs, mirrors, whistles, etc.).
  9. List basic steps to follow when lost. (S.T.O.P. Sit down, Think, Observe, and Plan.If it is not wise to walk out, make provisions for signaling, water, fire, shelter.)

GOAL 6 - Game Recovery. To help students learn to track and recover animals they hunt, how to care for it in the field, transport it, and prepare it for usable food and other products.

Rationale: Since an arrow-hit animal usually travels some distance before it dies, tracking skills are essential to game recovery. Knowledge of field dressing and carcass handling is required to make efficient use of the animal and avoid waste.

Objectives: (Students will be able to)

  1. Understand that game recovery is often difficult requiring careful and diligent tracking.
  2. Through a field demonstration if possible, list steps to follow to determine if and where an animal was hit and how to recover it. (After the shot, remain quiet, watch and listen for 30 minutes, depending on weather. Mark shooter location, hit location, place where animal last seen. Look for arrow, hair, and blood, at hit location and the place where the animal was last seen. Wait longer (mm. 3 hr.) if stomach or intestine contents found. Follow blood & tracks, marking trail.)
  3. Describe ways of reading blood and to continue a search once a blood trail is lost. (Look for blood on things that don’t soak it up, on trees and stems as well as ground. Search quietly, watching for deer, and searching for tracks and other sign, as well as blood. If trail is lost, use “increasing L� search pattern, pacing of a short distance, turn right and pace off same distance. Keep turning right, increasing length of line after every pair of lines.)
  4. Follow a simulated blood trail in a field or simulated field demonstration.
  5. List the steps to follow when the animal being sought is found. (Approach with caution from side away from legs, make sure eyes are open and animal is not breathing, touch eye with stick to make sure it is dead; comply with rules for filling out tags, etc.)
  6. Describe how to field dress commonly hunted animals. (Turn animal on back; cut around anus and tie off; slit belly from breast bone to genitals, keeping blade away from intestines, always taking care not to cut intestines or bladder; turn animal on side and free intestines from rear of cavity; cut diaphragm near ribs to open chest cavity; remove heart, lungs and liver with intestines, carefully reaching into neck to cut windpipe to free organs in chest.)
  7. List at least two reasons for careful and neat transportation of animals from the field and on the highway, etc. (To avoid heat, moisture and dirt which can spoil meat; to avoid disrespectful displays of dead animals which offend the public.)
  8. Discuss options for proper handling and storage of harvested animals. (Skinning and preparation for delivery to professional butchers and taxidermists; learning meat cutting, wrapping, freezing, and other preservation techniques to produce quality food, hides and other products).