- Updated: 16 April 2012
What’s the purpose of Bowhunter Education?
Thinking of archery hunting? How about Alaska, Montana or Quebec? If so, you must successfully complete the International Bowhunter Education Program (IBEP) course! The course is designed to provide bowhunters with the basic fundamentals of good, safe bowhunting while maintaining the highest ethical standards in the sport. It instills a responsible attitude and to adopt and follow acceptable behavior towards people, wildlife and the environment in which they hunt. It is also mandatory to hunt on Fort Belvoir, as well as some 14 states and most of the Canadian provinces! However, it does not replace the Virginia requirement for first time hunters and hunters 12 to 15 years of age to complete a Virginia Hunter Education course before buying a hunting license.
About The Course
As some of us are both hunter and bowbunter education instructors, we know that many hunters are only vaguely aware of what bowhunter education is. Although there is a bit of subject overlap in the two courses, they are sufficiently different in their focus that a hunter who wants to be successful harvesting game should seriously consider completing both courses.
In Virginia as in most states, hunter education is required and not required for Bowhunters. We annually graduate several thousand students compared to the number of students from bowhunter education. Hunter education teaches hunter safety while bowhunter education teaches hunting skills. Although both classes are 10-12 hours long, our courses begins with the “History of Bowhunting”, describing the roots of our 25,000 year old sport. The fundamental difference between bowhunting and hunting with a modern firearm, we stress that Bowhunters must get so close as to penetrate a game animal’s zone of defences, smell, hearing and sight, before releasing an ethical arrow. Any mistake on the part of the bowhunter and the animal can sense it and it done. Bowhunting puts the hunter and the animal together on a much more intimate filed, matching wits and skill more closely than with any other hunting method.
Both courses covers conservation, but bowhunting also introduces the potential for game damage control within the urban communities. The National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) has developed a booklet called “Guide to Urban Bowhunting”. This guide describes the rationales and information for Bowhunters and the community leaders to develop an urban bowhunting program if deer or other dame are too numerous and causing damage within the boundaries of an urban community.
Other topic that is discussed is big game anatomy using a silhouette of a deer pointing out the liver, lungs, heart and front legs. We ask students to place one of the organs into the correct position on the deer. This exercise reveals the students’ knowledge of the orientation of major organs. Another topic is ‘knowing your distances’ and how far can I shoot safely for the arrow will pass cleanly through the vital organs.
Bowhunting is a waiting game. Waiting for the game to appear, waiting for the right shot and waiting after the shot before tracking the game. How shots go wrong, which may be due to poor shot angles, shooting when the animal is alert and aware of you presence, shooting beyond your effective range, muscle fatigue, not focusing upon a spot or poor light conditions, missing the twigs, tree limbs and even other game between the hunter and the game that can actually deflect an arrow or even result in wounding the game.
We discuss preparing for the hunt such as selecting the proper clothing, scouting, preparing a hunting plan, learning how to use a map and compass, what to put in your survival and first aid kits and studying the game that you intend to hunt.
Ethics is an important aspect of the bowhunter education course. Who we are as a responsible? What if, an arrow passes completely through the animal and kills a second animal behind it? We emphasize the role Bowhunters play in game management and avoiding moral arguments.
Our field exercises include blood trailing. Students learn how to spot blood droplets, to look under leaves and to identify blood on different surfaces like rocks, logs and leaves to recover their game. We conduct scouting exercises that includes elk or deer droppings (chocolate-covered raisings) and tracks made with preserved deer and elk feet. We set up treestands just two feet off the ground, to emphasize treestand safety and other hunting methods like driving, spot-and-stalk, still-hunting and ground blinds. We demonstrate the use of everyone wearing the four point safety harness to avoid treestand fatalities.
Bowhunting is different, but the skills are often as important to modern firearm hunters as they are to the Bowhunters.
So, the question is? How many archers and Bowhunters have taken the IBEP course?
How do I sign up?
1. Go to http://my.register-ed.com/.
2. Select Virginia by clicking it on the map or by selecting it from the drop down list at the bottom of the map.
3. Use your mouse to click on Virginia Bowhunter Education Course (IBEP) that is listed under the heading "Virginia DGIF Hunting Programs"
4. You will be taken to a calendar for the current month. Use the calendar to move to any month that you want to take the course. Notice that the is a box just above the monthly calendar that allows you to select a distance that you are willing to drive to take the course. The default is set at 25 miles, but if there are no courses offered within your desired timeframe, you can always increase the distance you are willing to drive to see if there are any others being offered at greater distances.
5. When you find a course listed on the calendar that you are interested in, double click on that event. You will now be taken to an information sheet that tells you about the IBEP class being offered at Fort Belvoir on the date you selected. At the top left of the screen you see a button that says "Yes, Register Me". Use your mouse to click on this icon.
6. You will now be taken to a form that you must complete in order to register for the IBEP class. Note that any field which has a red * symbol is a mandatory field and must be filled in. It is very important that you accurately enter all required information - this will be put into the database and used to verify that you completed the course if you ever lose your IBEP course completion card. You will also be asked to create your own unique Username and Password. You cannot register without doing this. Your Username and Password will also allow you to register for future hunter education courses offered by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
7. Once you have completed the form, then select the button labelled "Next" at the bottom of the page. If you have failed to complete a mandatory field, or incorrectly entered data in a mandatory field, the system will take you back to the top of the form. Scroll down and you will see message in red text by the missing or incorrect data. Re-enter correctly, then scroll down and click on "Next".
8. Almost there! You will now be taken to a screen where you must verify that you understand the cancellation policy. Check the box indicating you understand, the select the button that says "Register".
9. Congratulations - You are now registered.
10. If you have any problems, call 1-888-516-0844 during normal business hours, and a help desk representative will assist you!