Hunter Education Classes

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 2021 – June 2022”, Page 8, published by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources:

Mandatory Hunter Education

Hunter Education courses provide instruction in hunter safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship. There are two options for completing Hunter Education – Classroom and Full Online Courses.

Classroom Course
  • Section 1 – Self-study
    Each student is required to study course material prior to the classroom portion. Students must read the Today’s Hunter in Virginia student manual and complete the review exercises at the back of the book. The review exercises must be presented to the course instructor, or the student will not be certified. A free download of the manual is available at See other options for obtaining a book below.
  • 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.  For more information, go to the VDWR Hunter Education page or call the Hunter Education Office at (804) 367-2901 or (804) 367-1147. 

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

Find a Class

Hunter Education Requirements

You must complete an approved hunter education course and carry your card 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 card 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: 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.


How to get a Hunting License

Q: How do I get started?

Virginia’s hunter education course is 6–8 hours long and includes interactive classroom activities and hands-on exercises by students to demonstrate safe firearm handling skills. Most classes are offered all in one day, and others may be scheduled over the course of 2-3 days.  Scheduling depends on the availability of the volunteer instructors that support the program.  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 and is not discussed during actual class time.

Students are required to obtain a Today’s Hunter in Virginia student manual available through one of these methods:

Number 1

Pick up and study a FREE Today’s Hunter in Virginia student manual at DWR headquarters or any regional DWR office.  Click here for the latest information on office locations and hours.

Number 2

Purchase the eBook and learn on the go for $4.99.

Number 3

Download and study a FREE Today’s Hunter in Virginia student manual and worksheet in PDF format.

Click on the image below to go to the bookstore.

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IMPORTANT NOTE:  ALL students will need to fill out the four (4) pages of Chapter Review Exercises in the back of the manual and bring them to class.  Instructors are required to verify that the self-study tests have been successfully and thoroughly completed.  Students will only be certified if the completed Chapter Review Exercises are submitted to an instructor.


On April 1, 2016, Virginia implemented a new “full-online” adult hunter education course. You must be a Virginia resident and 12 years of age or older to take this course. There is no classroom requirement. The course provider allows you to print out a certificate after you pass the course.

The full-online course has the same general content as the traditional classroom course and the “Self Study + Class” 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 “” image below to go to the commercially provided on-line course.  This state-approved course is not administered by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. A fee of $29.50 is paid directly to the provider for this course.


Please call the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources at (804) 367-1000 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 Wildlife Resources. 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 VDWR office (see the link above), or the State Coordinator, David Dodson, at