Skip to main content

Get to Know the National Bowhunter Education Foundation

In 1969, before the days of 350-fps bows and laser rangefinders, Bill Wadsworth advocated for education as a means to preserve the future of bowhunting.

Prior to bowhunting books, magazines and forums, resources for those new to the sport were scarce.

NBEF-Arrow-Logo

"Bowhunting wasn't as mainstream back then," said Marilyn Bentz, executive director of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation. "It wasn't even considered lethal by a lot of people."


The Bowhunting and Conservation Committee of the National Field Archery Association was formed, with Wadsworth leading the charge to grow a program that would promote safe and ethical practices.


Ten years later, NBEF became an independent nonprofit and has been churning out ethical, responsible bowhunters ever since.

State Certification

Bowhunter certification is currently mandatory in 12 states. While the remaining 38 states don't require bowhunter education, all bowhunters can benefit from this comprehensive course.

NBEF---distance-learning

"It really is to their advantage," Marilyn said. "We know that someone who takes the course is a more successful bowhunter because they're more likely to harvest an animal."


The curriculum focuses on safe, legal and responsible bowhunting, covering topics from necessary equipment to shot placement and game recovery to outdoor survival.

Additionally, bowhunter certification opens the door to more opportunities for special circumstance hunts – like urban bowhunts and accessing special-use areas or federal lands — and out-of-state hunting trips where certification is required.

Going Digital

If the thought of completing a certification gives you flashbacks of enduring a marathon hunter safety course in a crowded room, rest assured that NBEF offers the program in a digital format for a growing number of locations.


Approximately 50,000 people take the bowhunter education course each year, with 40 percent of those participants opting for full or partial distance learning.

And you won't need to sit at home on a desktop for hours on end to work through the materials; you can conveniently complete the course at your own pace from any device. The online program comes with a fee of just $30, payable once you pass the exam.

Currently, 36 states and three foreign countries offer the online course, including 13 states that provide an internet-only option. Other states supplement the online course with a field day.

Outside of distance learning options, requirements for each state can vary widely. My home state of Pennsylvania, for example, offers the complete certification online to residents who are 16 years of age or older, but it is not required to bowhunt within the state. Other states allow non-residents to take their course and don't have the same age restrictions.

Because regulations and participation are constantly updating, Marilyn stresses that bowhunters should take advantage of the knowledge and resources NBEF can provide through their partnerships with game and wildlife agencies. "Hunters can call and ask us questions, and we'll help them get answers," she said.

Growing the Sport

With the uptick in bowhunting interest among women, NBEF has seen a slight increase in the percentage of female participants to 17 percent.

Approximately one-third of online course participants fall between 26 and 35 years of age, followed by 19-25 year olds who make up more than 20 percent of bowhunters completing certification.

Youth 18 and under total approximately 15 percent of participants, and NBEF is working to expose more children to the sport. NBEF has partnered with the National Archery in the Schools Program from its inception, noting that a large percentage of NASP students express interest in bowhunting. The organizations are able to work together closely, with NASP president Roy Grimes serving on the NBEF board of directors.

Beyond the Basics

Beyond bowhunter education programs and materials, NBEF also offers a liability insurance program for urban hunters and treestand safety resources.

With the likes of Terry Drury of the famed hunting family and Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost recently experiencing life-threatening treestand falls, the need for reinforcing safe hunting practices is as strong as ever.

According the NBEF, treestand incidents are the most common hunting accidents and are avoidable when hunters take the proper safety precautions. Their treestand safety video – first produced in 1999 – is now in its eighth iteration and comes packaged with many new treestands.

Crossbow Curriculum

If your rig of choice is a crossbow, certification is now available through the International Crossbow Education Program.

CrossbowLogo

The online course was created following a request from the state of Alaska to expand bowhunter education to include a crossbow program. Beginning July 1, 2018 certification is mandatory to hunt with a crossbow in Alaska.

A national course is also available and is similar in content to the bowhunter safety curriculum.

To learn more about the National Bowhunter Education Foundation and your state's regulations, visit www.nbef.org.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Springtime Turkey Hunt

Springtime Turkey Hunt

Kevin Steele and the boys are bowhunting turkeys with the help of some well-placed decoys.

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint Archery evolves in design and performance with the introduction of the new CP400 Crossbow.

First Look: Mathews Vertix Bow

First Look: Mathews Vertix Bow

"Petersen's Bowhunting" editor Christian Berg and Mathews design engineer Mark Hayes talk the smooth, quiet and fast shooting qualities of the new flagship Vertix bow from the Wisconsin bowmaker.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Don't give up on that seemingly untunable bow just yet.Untunable Bow? Nock Travel Could Be Your Problem Bows

Untunable Bow? Nock Travel Could Be Your Problem

Bill Winke

Don't give up on that seemingly untunable bow just yet.

These boots are Field Tested: Danner Vital Snake Boots Apparel

Field Tested: Danner Vital Snake Boots

Taylor Pardue - July 13, 2020

These boots are "better safe than sorry" at its best.

ATA 2020: The new flagship bows are here, and it's an impressive crop! New Bows for 2020 ATA Show

New Bows for 2020

Tony J. Peterson - January 09, 2020

ATA 2020: The new flagship bows are here, and it's an impressive crop!

From portability and comfort to stealth and shooting opportunities, today's tree saddles are hard to beat.Why You Should Try Tree Saddle Hunting Treestands & Blinds

Why You Should Try Tree Saddle Hunting

Andy May

From portability and comfort to stealth and shooting opportunities, today's tree saddles are...

See More Trending Articles

More Industry



State after state has liberalized its crossbow-hunting regulations in recent years, and WisconsinIs Wisconsin the Next Crossbow State? Industry

Is Wisconsin the Next Crossbow State?

Christian Berg - August 13, 2013

State after state has liberalized its crossbow-hunting regulations in recent years, and...

Anyone who has truly been raised hunting knows that it's more than just filling some tags once aRaised at Full Draw Bowhunting Camps Industry

Raised at Full Draw Bowhunting Camps

Emily Kantner - April 26, 2017

Anyone who has truly been raised hunting knows that it's more than just filling some tags once...

Champion archer Levi Morgan of Bow Life TV shines again on MOTV. Streak Over, Levi Morgan Still Living His Bow Life Industry

Streak Over, Levi Morgan Still Living His Bow Life

Lynn Burkhead - September 20, 2019

Champion archer Levi Morgan of Bow Life TV shines again on MOTV.

October 2019 was quite literally one for the bowhunting record books!3 Bowhunting Records Surpassed in the Same Month Industry

3 Bowhunting Records Surpassed in the Same Month

Lynn Burkhead

October 2019 was quite literally one for the bowhunting record books!

See More Industry

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now