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Hunter Education

Since Hunter Education became mandatory for 12–15 year old and first-time hunters in 1988, there has been a 25% reduction in the rate of hunting-related shooting incidents. While hunting is safe in comparison to other common sports, each injury can cause extreme physical and emotional pain for the victim, the shooter, and their families. Hunter Education courses are designed to teach hunting safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship. A dedicated cadre of nearly 1,000 trained volunteer instructors works with 170 Conservation Police Officers to train over 14,000 students each year.



From “Hunting & Trapping in Virginia, July 2013 – June 2014”, Page 10, published by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries:


Mandatory Hunter Education

Hunter Education courses provide instruction in hunter safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship. The courses are composed of two sections:

· Section 1 - Self-study.
Each student is required to study course material prior to the classroom portion.

· Section 2 - Classroom portion.
Students will focus on safety and ethics. A written test will be given at the end of the class. Test questions will cover material from the classroom portion and from the self-study material.

Courses are offered free of charge throughout the Commonwealth.



Hunter Education Requirement

You must complete an approved hunter education course and carry your certificate while hunting if either of the following apply:

· You are 12–15 years of age. (You must complete hunter education but you do not have to carry your certificate if accompanied and properly supervised by a licensed adult.)

· You are at least 16 years of age and you are hunting with your first hunting license.


Virginia accepts and recognizes all states' and countries' hunting licenses and official hunter education credentials for the purpose of complying with mandatory hunter education requirements. These may be in the form of an identification card or certificate.




Q: What do I need to do before I attend a course?

A: All students must complete a course of self-study prior to class time. Information about self-study options may be found at www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/education/new/self-studyoptions.


Q: Is there a minimum age for taking a hunter education course?

A: There is no minimum age for taking a hunter education course. The only requirement is that a person taking the course must be able to comprehend and retain the information learned. Since the course is required for all 12-15 year-old hunting license buyers, it is designed for those 12 years of age. Some instructors may require that younger children be supervised by an adult companion. It is recommended that all children under 12 be accompanied by an adult.


Click on the logo to go to the VDGIF Hunter Education page




Click on the box below to go to the VDGIF Class Locator page



For more information you can also call the Hunter Education Coordinator at the nearest DGIF Regional office.  Click on the phone below to find the nearest office




As of July 1, 2013, Virginia has implemented a new, shorter hunter education course. Instead of 10 hours or more, the new course is 6–8 hours and includes interactive classroom activities and hands-on exercises by students to demonstrate safe firearm handling skills. Students are required to complete several hours of self-study prior to the class. Some material on the final test will be covered in the self-study material, but not during actual class time. To be sure of passing the test and receiving a certification card, the student must complete one of the self-study options!



Click on the IHEA-USA logo below to go to the free on-line course



Click on the box below to see the “Self-Study + Class” paid on-line course options



On October 1, 2013, Virginia implemented a new "full-online" adult hunter education course. You must be a Virginia resident and 18 years of age or older to take this course.


The adult full-online course has the same general content as the traditional classroom course and the "Self Study + Class" offer (above), but requires state specific information to be covered along with quizzes or tests in which the student must achieve a score of 90% or better to pass.


Click on the link below to see the companies authorized to provide the adult full-online hunter education course for Virginia. These state-approved courses are commercially provided and are not administered by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.




Please call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 1-866-721-6911 Monday-Friday during business hours (except holidays) for replacement hunter education cards. There is a $10 fee for replacement cards. You will be requested to provide the following information: your full name, date of birth, approximate date (year or month/year) of class, and current mailing address. If your attendance can be verified, a duplicate card will be issued.


Volunteer instructors are the backbone of the Virginia Hunter Education Program.  They train about 14,000 students per year to be safe, ethical, knowledgeable hunters.  Hunter Education volunteers are committed to training the next generation to be safe, knowledgeable and ethical participants in an enduring Virginia tradition. Many have had enjoyable hunting experiences and now say that they want to "give something back."  If this describes you, please get in touch with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. It can be a very rewarding experience.


There is a need for instructors, class organizers, and help with transporting materials. Since working with children and firearms is part of the program, all applicants must submit to a criminal background check. You must be 18 years of age and of good character to volunteer for this program.  All Hunter Education instructors are required to complete an 18 hour training program to become certified.  Anyone who wishes to become involved can contact the Regional Hunter Education Coordinator at the nearest regional VDGIF office (see the link above), or the State Coordinator, Sgt. David Dodson, at david.dodson@dgif.virginia.gov.

Find a paid on-line course