Hunter education training

NOTICE: Consistent with the governor’s June 30, 2021 guidance, in-person hunter education classes are now available. Be aware that classes are provided by WDFW certified volunteer instructors. Due to unknown public demand, as well as instructor and facility availability, challenges may arise in locating a class. Contact WDFW Hunter Education if classes are not available your area. 

As per current state requirements, the public is not required to wear a mask at a hunter education class but may choose to wear a mask in class. WDFW volunteer instructors will wear masks indoors. Instructors are encouraged to maintain six feet of physical distance from students other than when needed for instructional and safety purposes. Classrooms and common-touch surfaces will be disinfected before and after classes. Hand sanitizer will be available for student use before and after using shared equipment or that equipment will be sanitized between students. Students may bring their own snacks and beverages and are encouraged to wash or sanitize their hands prior to eating. If a student, parent, or guardian exhibits COVID symptoms or becomes ill during class, they will be asked to leave. If symptoms develop within 48 hours after a class, they are asked to contact their instructor or WDFW Hunter Education.

Hunter Education Videos: Safety Practices and Hunting Tips

The following sites offer supplemental, online hunter education instruction:

Requirements

All individuals born after Jan. 1, 1972 must show proof of hunter education certification before purchasing their first Washington hunting license. Qualifying individuals participating in the Hunter Education Deferral Program are exempted from this requirement for one year.

If you already have a valid hunter education training certificate, just show it to a license vendor to purchase a hunting license. Hunter education training certificates can be from Washington or another state. Please note that an out-of-state license is not the same as a hunter education certificate.

There is no minimum age required to enroll in hunter education. However, students 17 years of age and younger are required to complete an in-person assessment through either a traditional class or field skills evaluation for the online course. For information on the in-person field skills evaluation please contact our customer service staff at 360-902-8111.

Course information

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers two types of hunter education courses that teach firearms and outdoor safety, wildlife management, and hunter responsibility.

The traditional classroom course is a multi-session instructor-led training with an average of 15 hours of instruction. This format is recommended for young students and students seeking a valuable classroom experience. Course availability may be limited in the fall and winter months.

The online class is a student-driven interactive web tool teaching the same content as the traditional course and is appropriate for students who can comprehend and retain online course content. Students 17 years of age or younger at time of registration must complete a four-hour field skills evaluation class with certified instructors after completing the online class.

Course options for students 17 years of age or younger:

  1. Traditional classroom course (in-person) - This course is highly recommended for students under the age of 12 or students seeking a valuable classroom experience. Course availability may be limited.
  2. Online course and an in-person field skills evaluation (hybrid)

Course options for students 18 years of age or older:

  1. Traditional classroom course (in-person) - This course is highly recommended for students seeking a valuable classroom experience. Course availability may be limited.
  2. Online course and an in-person field skills evaluation (hybrid) - This course is recommended for students who can successfully comprehend and retain online course content and who would benefit from valuable hands-on learning and reinforcement of firearm and hunting safety principles.
  3. Online course (all online) - This online course includes a virtual field day and is best suited to adult students who can successfully comprehend, retain, and safely implement the online course content without hands-on learning and reinforcement of firearm and hunting safety principles.

Note: Students who do not pass the field skills evaluation class are required to retake the online class before signing up for another field skills evaluation class. Please contact the Hunter Education Division (360-902-8111 or by email at huntered@dfw.wa.gov) to reset the online class and receive a coupon code before registering for another online class.

Hunter education courses are taught by volunteer instructors. Interested in becoming an instructor? Learn about the requirements and how to sign up.

Find information on Trapper EducationFind information on Bowhunter Education.

Peace officer or military exemptions

Qualifying peace officers and military personnel may be exempt from the firearms field skills portion of any hunter education course that is completed online. To learn more, please visit the Peace officer and military exemptions page.

Firearm storage and suicide

Hunting and target shooting are rich traditions enjoyed by millions of individuals and families nationwide.   As a current or future hunter or target shooter, you likely have, or will have, firearms in the home. 

We all play a critical role in preventing unauthorized or undesirable access to firearms to help prevent accidents, theft and suicide. The statistics associated with suicide with a firearm are staggering… please do your part and practice safe firearm storage.

Please use the links below to learn more about suicide awareness and prevention, the importance of safe firearm storage, and the range of storage options available.

This important information is provided consistent with state law, RCW 43.70.445.

For more information, visit the Safer Homes, Suicide Aware campaign and Project Childsafe.