International Hunter Education Association (IHEA)-USA
Adopted June 2014
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 (now IHEA-USA) 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, primarily through the use of Online coursework. 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 (IHEA)-USA 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, field courses, Internet (online), home study, video, DVD, TV 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-USA will provide Peer Reviews to assist states in evaluating standards, enhancing delivery and assessment methods and providing coursework that is equivalent to other state and jurisdictional standards. In addition, while conducting peer reviews, the IHEA-USA will verify whether the agency being reviewed is in compliance with all IHEA-USA 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-USA’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-USA Standards and Evaluation committee will review and revise these standards on a regular basis to address current trends and needs.
IHEA-USA does not enforce the continuous adherence by courses, exams or instructors to every applicable standard or guideline. Nor does the IHEA-USA 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-USA assume any responsibility or liability for any such injury or loss.