General Hunting Tips

The Difference Between Online Hunter Education and an In-Person Course

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Hunter education is a critical element toward keeping hunts safe and legal, and thanks to improvements in technology, new hunters have more options than ever. But it can sometimes be tough to choose between the traditional in-person course and an online course. This post will explain the differences.

There are three basic types of hunter education courses: 1) in-person, 2) online-only, and 3) online with a field day portion. The type of courses available to you will depend on your state.

In-Person Hunter Education Courses

In-person courses are typically conducted in a classroom or large meeting space, take at least 6 hours, can take place across multiple days, and are taught by volunteer instructors. Students typically have to RSVP and pay a fee to be admitted. The time and location of each course is dependent on the instructor.

These types of classes may use videos, but rely mainly on a verbal presentation from the experienced hunter leading the course and on a printed student manual. After completing the study portion of the class, students take a written exam with one opportunity to pass.

For example, South Carolina’s Hunter Education Class is geared toward hunters who already have some firearm and hunting knowledge. The course is free, takes about 8 hours to complete, and may be offered as a one-day class or across two nights. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Online-Only Hunter Education Courses

An online-only hunter education course—available in some states for all hunters and just for adult hunters in others—allows students to complete their hunter education on any device on their own time and from the comfort of their own home.

These courses feature the same, IHEA-USA-approved content used in the in-person courses, supplemented with animations, videos, and review quizzes to make sure the students are learning everything they need to know. Students are able to log in and out of the course, so they can fit it around other responsibilities like school, work, or family responsibilities. Because of the online format, students can easily review information and take as much (or little!) time as they need to really understand each topic.

After completing all the quizzes and the test, students are done and can immediately print out their hunter education certificate.

For example, Texas hunter education students ages 17 and up can complete the online Hunter Ed course in 4-6 hours and immediately print out a Temporary Hunter Education Certificate. The permanent certificate is then sent by mail. In another example, any Indiana hunter has the option to complete the online course—there is no field day requirement for this route. As soon as they pass all the quizzes and the exam, they immediately print out their permanent Hunter Education Certificates.

Online Hunter Education Courses With a Required Field Day

These courses, available in most states, are a combination of the best parts of an in-person course with the ease of an online course. The actual structure will vary by state—some require an in-person component before the online course, while others will have an in-person requirement after the online portion. It may be called a “conclusion class,” “field day,” or similar name.

With these courses, students will complete most of the basic or knowledge-based education online—even on a mobile device! It is all the same course material as the in-person course with added convenience. Students can often retake quizzes and tests until they feel comfortable with the information. After passing the online course, students print out proof of completion (often called a “voucher”) and attend the in-person component.

This in-person component is frequently much shorter than a traditional in-person course would be, as it only covers the essential information a hunter may need, including hands-on practice and sometimes a range day. The in-person component is taught by volunteer instructors and may or may not include a fee. After completing an exam offered at the in-person component, students receive their hunter education certificates.

Texas, for example, offers students ages 9 to 16 the opportunity to first complete the online portion and then attend a 4-hour field day, which includes a presentation, a “skills trail,” a live-fire exercise, and a written exam. Similarly, Alaska hunters must complete a field day after completing the online portion. That field day experience includes 4-6 hours of instruction, a field exercise, a live-fire exercise, and a written exam. Once students pass both components, they have earned their hunter education certification.

Which Course Is Right for You?

State agencies are providing as many options as possible to make learning hunter safety as accessible and comprehensive as possible. Do your research and find out what courses are approved for your state. It all comes down to what is best for the student. How do you like to learn?

If you’d like to try an online hunter education course, find your state to begin studying for free.