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SEPTEMBER  22, 2003


Do you want to be a better bowhunter? The Pennsylvania Game Commission sponsors a voluntary bowhunter education program that is designed for those hunters interested in learning more about bowhunting, improving their skills or for those individuals requiring certification to bowhunt in another state or province where this bowhunter training is mandated.

"Across the nation, bowhunter education is contributing to increased satisfaction and hunting success of program graduates," said Keith Snyder, Game Commission Hunter-Trapper Education chief. "The course meets the International Hunter Education Association's bowhunter education standards, and is designed to promote safe, responsible, knowledgeable and involved bowhunters. Program participants will learn skills, concepts, socially acceptable attitudes and behaviors focused on enhancing the image and effectiveness of bowhunting. Graduates will have a better understanding and appreciation for the ethical use of the environment and our resources."

Classes are open to anyone interested in learning more about bowhunting, but limited to 30 persons per course. In many cases, classes are comprised of adult students with some previous hunting experience. However, youngsters and novices are welcomed and encouraged to attend. Students must be at least 11 years old to enroll in a course. There is no maximum age for enrollment, and parents are encouraged to attend the course with their children.

The course is has two parts - home study and classroom. After students register for a class, they receive an independent study kit in the mail. The kit consists of a student manual, workbook and video. On average, it takes about four to six hours to complete the home study part of the training. Students then attend a one-day, eight-hour class.

There is an $18 fee required when you register for the course. This fee is used to offset costs and to directly support the bowhunter education program. Students keep the independent study kit and training video as part of the course. The bowhunter education course does not replace basic hunter-trapper education (HTE) training. All first-time hunters must successfully complete an HTE course before purchasing a license.

The course includes lessons on: becoming a responsible bowhunter; preparing for the hunt; big game anatomy and effective shot placement; hunting methods and techniques; survival and first aid; map and compass basics; distance estimation; care, use and shooting of bowhunting equipment; treestand use and safety; and big game recovery and care.

Classroom teaching aids include 3D models and anatomy flip charts to reinforce shot placement concepts. Teaching methods include videos, demonstrations, group discussions, dilemma exercises and role-playing activities. Field exercises include simulated blood trailing, shooting of bows and shot placement exercises, scouting for game sign and treestand use and safety exercises. The course emphasizes hands-on learning with nearly half the training done outdoors.

This is a certification course that requires students to attend the entire course and achieve a passing score on a written exam to successfully complete the training. A certificate of training is awarded to graduates at the course's conclusion. Students will need this certificate to bowhunt in other states mandating this training. This certificate is not required to purchase an archery license in Pennsylvania.

Classes are conducted throughout the state at 50 designated course locations. These sites are chosen for their suitability and proximity to major population centers. Archery and sportsmen's clubs are typical course sites. Trained and certified volunteers under the guidance of the Game Commission teach the classes. Most classes are scheduled from April through September. Additional courses may be available on a more limited basis.

For a county-by-county listing of bowhunter education courses, visit the Game Commission's website, click on Education and then choose Bowhunter education course schedules by county.

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