The vast majority of states throughout the nation offer an online component of the hunter’s safety course, which provides potential hunters a way to receive their hunter safety certification at their own pace. By offering new hunters an easy and efficient way to gain hunter safety certification, more people will have the opportunity to begin hunting. Internet based hunter education courses are essential to engaging future hunters and licenses-buyers that will ensure the perpetuation of hunting and professional wildlife management.
Currently, all 50 states that require hunter’s safety education as a prerequisite for obtaining a hunting license also offer an online hunter’s education program. Prospective hunters can complete a convenient and self-paced home study for free, and then, for a modest fee, students can take an exam. In some states, the passage of the online exam is all that is required to complete the certification. However, some states require those who pass the online exam to also complete a field day that may be completed at a location convenient to them. Many hunters who previously lacked certification can easily become certified through online education programs. By posting safety materials online, more hunters will have access to the information necessary to gain valuable knowledge and fulfill their state’s hunter safety certification requirements, providing more people with an opportunity to go afield. This was especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic when many in-person classes had to be canceled. Recruiting more hunters that have completed their hunter education certification helps minimize potential accidents in the field and will ultimately benefit state conservation efforts through revenue generated by the license fees and excise taxes that make up the American System of Conservation Funding.
In many states, students who successfully pass the online portion of the class are often required to attend a field day that includes hands-on instructions on how to safely handle firearms while afield. These classes are typically administered by conservation officers, and upon successful completion of the field day students are certified and recognized as having fulfilled their state hunter’s safety education requirements. The use of online portions of these courses allows states to easily and accurately compile databases of all the registered and certified hunters in their state, thus expediting the licensing process and allowing statistics on hunter participation to be more easily compiled.
Points of Interest
- In 2023, Massachusetts became the fiftieth state to accept an online hunter’s safety field day qualifier course.
- One of the online courses is offered by Today’s Hunter. Today’s Hunter is the official hunter education course of many state fish and wildlife agencies. Other online services are offered by huntercourse.com and the NRA.
- Students who complete an approved hunter education course will receive a safety certificate or card that is often recognized by other states.
- One of the identified barriers to hunter recruitment is, in some cases, the lengthy process of completing hunter education requirements. In particular, in-person classes that include field days with live fire requirements can limit the opportunity for many prospective hunters, as many areas do not have suitable ranges to host such courses.
- Further information on state-specific programs may be found on the Hunter-Ed or NRA Websites.
While safety afield is of paramount importance to the hunting community, it is similarly important that hunting opportunities are available and accessible to all who are interested. In this spirit, legislators should explore their governing regulations and support new legislation (where necessary) that will ensure first-time hunters have the opportunity to complete their hunter education requirements online at their own pace.