IHEA Standards

International Hunter Education Association
Certification Standards
Adopted May 2008
Amended June 2010
In the late 1990’s, with Steve Williams serving as the Chair of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Committee, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (now AFWA) assigned a task force with the charge of developing a national set of standards whereby a director, administrator, industry partner, etc. could go to see what is being taught in hunter education courses. This task force was comprised of hunter education administrators, industry and conservation partners and United States Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Assistance Regional Representatives. 
As a result, in 1999 the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) adopted a set of performance guidelines for basic hunter education courses. These standards have been used internationally by hunter education administrators to evaluate minimum core content in hunter education courses. Industry partners have used the revised standards to develop new student manuals and alternative delivery methods for hunter education. 
The success of hunter education has continually been measured by the decrease in the number of hunting incidents (accidents). Hunter education administrators recognize that there is a perception hunter education inhibits hunter recruitment; therefore measures have been taken to address this concern. In the past five years, major advancements in the alternative delivery of hunter education courses has occurred, including home study, internet, CD, workbook, etc. With the added convenience of delivering hunter education through various means, there have been changes in the course curriculum and field day activities. 
This set of certification standards is intended to prescribe the minimum body of knowledge necessary to affect safe, legal, and enjoyable hunting.  In addition, the proposed standard of care is predicated on reducing risk in recreational hunting based on empirical accident and hunting violation statistics. 
The positive effects of quality hunter education programs on hunter safety, behavior, satisfaction, retention and public acceptance of hunting are often overlooked. To address this concern, hunter education administrators have placed an increased emphasis on improved methods of delivery and teaching techniques in the hunter education curriculum. There have also been a number of additions to the curriculum including landowner relations, ethical behavior, wildlife identification, wildlife management and conservation, hunting and wildlife laws and the enforcement of these laws. 
The purpose of these revised certification standards is to maintain quality of hunter education regarding the practices and procedures used and accepted within the hunting community. The standards provide a basis for recognition of hunter education student certification. It is not the intent of the International Hunter Education Association to include every practice or procedure that might be desirable or implemented within a hunter education course since the content and delivery of all courses are not identical or uniform.
This new set of certification standards is intended to prescribe the minimum body of knowledge necessary to affect safe, legal, and enjoyable hunting. In addition, the proposed certification standards are predicated on reducing risk in hunting based on empirical incident and hunting violation statistics.
Intended Audience - These standards were developed by the IHEA for use by hunting education course instructors, hunter education administrators, USFWS Federal Assistance Coordinators, industry and NGO partners, and other interested parties.
Applicability – These certification standards apply to hunter education programs. It is recognized that there are different types of hunter education courses, programs and methods of delivery with different target audiences. These standards identify the core topics to be covered in most courses and examinations, and this single set of standards replaces IHEA’s 1999 Performance Guidelines.
These certification standards refer to all components of a hunter education program, including delivery methods, instruction, tests, supplemental materials, and exams. Hunter education may be presented in various formats, including classroom instruction, home study, video, distance learning, CD-ROM, internet, or any combination of these formats.
Minimum Standards - These standards are intended to specify the minimum body of knowledge required to successfully complete a jurisdiction’s certification examination. The certification exam should equally measure knowledge regardless of the manner in which it was obtained. Certification testing methods may include written, oral and practical. The certification standards are intended to show just the minimum content of the course materials, not the sequence or organization of the material. Although the standards are organized in a particular way, course/text developers are welcome to organize their information as they prefer. 
On an annual basis, the IHEA will conduct an annual self-reporting survey identifying which agencies comply with all IHEA Standards. If one state/province challenges another state/province’s compliance with the IHEA standards, upon request of either party, the IHEA may mediate and help determine whether the state/province in question meets the IHEA certification standards.
In addition, while conducting peer reviews, the IHEA will verify whether the agency being reviewed is in compliance with all IHEA standards.
Recommended Best Practices - Instructors, hunter education administrators, industry partners and NGOs are encouraged to go beyond the minimum certification standards and create instructional approaches and strategies or use the IHEA’s best practices for teaching and learning when in their judgment and experience it assists the hunter to hunt more safely, ethically and responsibly. (*Best practices document forthcoming and may include previous and more comprehensive list of performance standards.)
Standards Revision – The IHEA Standards and Evaluation committee will review and revise these standards on a regular basis to address current trends and needs.
The IHEA does not enforce the continuous adherence by courses, exams or instructors to every applicable standard or guideline. Nor does the IHEA insure that compliance with these standards will prevent injury or loss that may be caused by or associated with any person's participation in hunting activities that are the subjects of these standards; nor does the IHEA assume any responsibility or liability for any such injury or loss.



Prepared for
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
International Hunter Education Association 
Revised June 2010

Table of Contents

1.      Purpose

1.    Basic Safety Rules
2.    Loading/Unloading
3.    Action types
4.    Safety Mechanism
5.    Matching Ammunition
6.    Safe Transport
7.    Ground blind/elevated stand and Fall Arrest Systems (FAS)
8.    Crossing obstacles
9.    Safe Zones of Fire
10. Carry methods
11. Shot selection
12. Obstructions in Barrels
13. Hunter Orange
14. Alcohol and Drug Avoidance
15. Safe Cleaning and Storage
16. Archery/Crossbow Equipment
17. Muzzleloading equipment
18. Eye and ear protection
1.      Why Hunting Regulations
2.      How to Find Hunting Regulations
3.      Hunter Ethics
4.      Public Image
5.      Clean Kill
6.      Care of Game
1.      Physical Conditioning
2.      Hunt Planning
3.      Outdoor Exposure
4.      Signaling When Lost
5.      Survival Kit
6.      Personal Flotation Device
1.      Hunting’s Role in Wildlife Conservation
2.      Key Wildlife Principles
3.      Wildlife Identification
VI.      Examinations
1.      Design
2.      Testing formats
3.      Direction to respond to the questions
4.      Material included in Standards 1-5
5.      Emphasis on importance
6.      Establish minimum passing grades

 Hunter Education Certification Standards

Revised August 2007
Recommended by International Hunter Education Association in cooperation with Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
The minimum requirement for certification shall include the following core standards:
1.   Introduction
Rationale: Hunter education students should know the purpose and benefits of hunter education and how their dollars are collected and spent
1.   The purpose of hunter education (to produce safe, knowledgeable, responsible and involved hunters) and why it is important (firearm, shooting and hunting accident prevention; improved hunter compliance and behaviors)
2.   Hunting Safety
Rationale: Reduction of hunting and shooting related injuries and fatalities
1.      Basic rules of shooting and hunting safety (e.g. Point muzzle in safe direction, treat every firearm with respect due a loaded gun, be sure of target and what is in front of and beyond the target, keep finger off the trigger until ready to shoot)
2.      Proper loading and unloading of firearms (courteously acknowledging and accepting firearm with action open, gun pointing in safe direction at all times, knowing action type, correctly carrying and matching ammunition, knowing location(s) of safety(ies))
3.      Different action types (bolt, lever, semi-automatic, pump and break)
4.      Different safety mechanisms (push button, hammer, lever, tang, slide, grip, etc.)
5.      Matching the proper ammunition to the firearm (match data stamp on firearm to head stamp on ammunition.)
6.      Safely transport a firearm (while in a vehicle, boat, ATV or other transportation method)
7.      Safely enter, use, and exit a ground blind or elevated stand [Always pointed in safe direction, unloaded, checked, cased, ammunition separate, hauling line, sling, etc., types of elevated stands, fall arrest systems (FAS), and identifying products that meet industry safety standards.] - Amended June, 5 2010.
8.      Safely cross an obstacle or traverse hazardous terrain, one method alone; the other method while with a partner. (muzzle control, unload when crossing, carry positions.)
9.      Safe zones of fire (area in which a hunter can shoot safely, hunter communication, know where your hunting companions are at all times.)
10. Appropriate carry methods (position within the group may vary)
11. Safe shot selection (i.e. various backgrounds, vital zones, angles of shots/animals, skyline animals, flock shooting, clothing of hunters/others, foreground, zones of fire) that present safe/unsafe and/or unethical shot opportunities
12. Determine whether barrel is free from obstruction (always point in safe direction, open action, check to be sure chamber/magazine is unloaded, check from breech and/or use appropriate accessories such as a barrel light)
13. Why hunters should wear blaze orange clothing for most hunting situations and/or why it is better than other colors while in the outdoors (to be seen)
14. Alcohol or drugs impair skills and judgment while handling sporting arms (coordination, hearing, vision, communications and good judgment)
15. Safe cleaning procedures and proper storage of firearms (always pointed in a safe direction, unloaded, checked, cased, and/or placed/locked in a gun safe, ammunition stored and locked separately, gun locks/accessories in place, etc.)
16. Safety principles involving archery/crossbow equipment (finger and arm protection, cocking, uncocking, gripping, shooting safety, covered broad heads and inspection of arrows/strings/cables.) - Amended June, 5 2010.
17. Safety principles involving muzzleloaders (never blowing down barrel, using brass accessories, using a powder measure to pour in barrel; never smoking, marked ram rod etc.)
18. The value of eye and ear protection while practicing with a firearm (hearing damage and eye injuries.)
3.   Hunter Responsibility
Rationale: Obeying hunting laws helps protect resources, people and property; poor hunting behavior is cited as the number one reason people oppose hunting.
1.      The reasons for hunting laws and rules and how they are established. (Public safety opportunity, fair chase, fair share, conservation of resources, etc.; federal and state/provincial statutes, regulatory processes, local ordinances and policies)
2.      Familiarity and compliance with hunting regulations. (Where to obtain licenses, legal hunting seasons, legal means and methods, hunter orange requirements, tagging requirements, transporting requirements, trespassing laws, penalties and violations)
3.      The role of hunter ethics (hunter behavior, image, unwritten rules, hunter’s code of ethics, fair chase)
4.      How hunters can portray a positive public image (attire, sportsmanship, , ensure lands remain open to hunting, landowner relations)
5.      A quick, clean kill. (distance estimation, vital zones, shot selection, marksmanship skills)
6.       The steps to properly care for game from the field (tagging requirements/ownership, field care of game, safe transport from field to camp)
4.  Outdoor Safety
Rationale: Hunter safety applies to heart attacks and outdoor fatalities and injuries that are not related to firearm incidents
1.      Conditions that affect a hunter’s ability to be safe and responsible (Overweight, health conditions, known allergies, physical conditioning, preparation, clothing, mental attitude/aptitude, vision, hearing, etc.)
2.      Why a hunter needs to develop a hunting plan for every hunt (preparation, communications with companions, knowledge of location, emergency preparedness, hunting safety, etc)
3.      Causes, prevention, symptoms and field treatments of hypothermia and heat exhaustion and factors which cause each (understanding 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; understanding heat exhaustion - the heating up of the core body temperature caused by hot, sunny and humid/dry conditions coupled with lack of preparation, emergency preparedness, mental state and knowledge demonstrated by victim)
4.      Methods of signaling for help when lost in the outdoors (signals of three, signal signs, mirrors, whistles, etc.)
5.      Basic components that should be included in a survival kit (signaling, shelter construction, fire building, first aid, water)
6.      Wearing a personal flotation device while hunting when using a boat (To prevent drowning)
5.   Wildlife Conservation
Rationale: Show how hunters positively affect wildlife management
1.   How hunting supports wildlife management and conservation (population dynamics – wildlife is a renewable resource, regulated hunting has never led to threatened/endangered wildlife populations, hunting is an effective wildlife management tool, hunters dollars have helped many game and non-game species rebound from low populations through effective habitat management and research, etc.)
2.   The importance of key wildlife principles (wildlife management, conservation, habitat, carrying capacity, limiting factors, biological surplus, renewable resource, succession)
3.   The importance of proper wildlife identification (game identification, non-game identification, differentiation between sexes)
6.   Examinations   
Rationale: Validity, reliability, fairness and practicality for a professional exam
Examination standards consist of a list of rules regarding the design of tests by which students demonstrate the knowledge and/or skills listed in the IHEA Certification standards. Well-designed comprehensive exams test knowledge equally well as an independent exam or as an exam at the end of a course. An exam should uniformly measure knowledge however it was obtained. 
1.      The exam must be well designed and comprehensive
2.      The exam may include any or all of the following testing formats: written, oral or practical
3.      The exam should include clear directions to the student about how to respond to the questions
4.      The exam must cover all of the material included in Standards 1-5
5.      Certain certification standards carry more importance and should receive more attention within the exam. (May be accomplished by various means, including assigning different weights to certain sections or questions, or merely including more questions on topics of greater importance.)
6.      Each jurisdiction should establish minimum passing grades to ensure that graduates meet standards expected by the hunting community and society in general

International Hunter Education Association

800 East 73rd Avenue, Unit 2
Denver, CO 80229
phone: 303 430-7233 |  fax: 303 430-7236

This website was made possible by a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.