Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
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Instructors Manual

Funded by a grant from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act




The mission of the Oregon Hunter Education Program is to provide training and information to people who want to hunt or participate in hunting-related activities in Oregon or any other state so they can be safe, responsible, knowledgeable and ethical and can continue the tradition of hunting for future generations.


The Oregon Hunter Education Program began as a voluntary four-hour program in 1957. In 1962, the program became mandatory for all hunters under the age of 18.

Originally the program focused only on the safe handling of firearms.  Gradually the course expanded not only in its length but scope as well.  Today the hunter education course is a minimum of 12 hours in length.  The curriculum still emphasizes firearms safety, but now also encompasses the topics of hunter responsibility, wildlife laws and regulations, preparing for the hunt, game recovery, survival, wildlife management and live firing. The emphasis of the course has shifted from a classroom-based program where students primarily sat and listened, to an activity-based program where the student is coached and tested on their ability to demonstrate skills and tasks.

The course will continue to evolve both to accommodate the changing needs of the hunting community and to take advantage of new developments in instructional techniques.  Mandatory instructor training is just one of the major steps the program has taken to provide the best possible instruction available to the hunters of Oregon.


The State of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have adopted laws and rules that authorize and guide the Oregon Hunter Education Program:

Oregon Revised Statues:

497.360 Hunter education certificate; training program. (1) No person younger than 18 years of age shall hunt wildlife, except on the person's own land or land owned by the parent or legal guardian of the person, unless the person has in possession a certificate, issued by the commission or by an agency of another state, stating that the person has satisfactorily completed a course prescribed or approved by the commission in the safe handling of lawful hunting weapons.

(2) The commission, by rule, shall prescribe and administer a hunter safety training program to provide instruction in the safe handling of lawful hunting weapons.  The program may also include instruction on wildlife and natural resource conservation, first aid and survival and such other subjects as the commission considers desirable to promote good outdoor conduct and respect for the rights and property of others.  The commission may cooperate and enter into agreements with other public or private agencies and individuals in carrying out the provisions of this subsection.  The Department of State Police and the Department of Education are directed to cooperate with the commission in carrying out the provision of this section.  (1973 c.723 §69)

Oregon Administrative Rules Concerning Hunter Education may be read in full on the internet at:  http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_600/oar-635/635_048.html

Key paragraphs include:

Course Length


Beginning January 1, 1998, the course of instruction shall be a minimum of 12 hours in length.  (See Policy and Procedures. 3.6)

Course Fee


Students enrolled in the training course shall not be charged a fee for materials or services furnished by the Hunter Education Program.  However, instructors may, at their discretion, assess each student an amount to defray expenses for materials or services not provided by the Hunter Education Program, such as ammunition, room rental or postage.  When a fee is charged, instructors will report the amount charged each student on the course report form.  The course fee may not serve as a deterrent to persons desiring to participate in the training course.  In no instance shall this fee exceed $10.00 per student. (See Policy and Procedures 4.2)

Instructor Qualifications


To be certified as an instructor, a candidate shall:

  1. Be at least 21 years of age.
  2. Have experience in the safe use of lawful hunting weapons.
  3. Not have been convicted of or have forfeited bail for a violation of any wildlife laws within five years of application.
  4. Not have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.  (See policy on Revocation of Instructor Certification.)
  5. Pass an examination prescribed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Revocation of Instructor's Certificate


An instructor's certificate may be revoked by the Department if the holder:

  1. Has falsified the information requested on the application.
  2. Is convicted of or forfeits bail for violation of any wildlife laws.
  3. Fails to conduct the training course in the prescribed manner.
  4. Fails, after two notices, to provide the Department with the required records of students trained and certificates of competency issued.
  5. Is convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.

(See Policy and Procedures 1.7)

Issuing Duplicate Certificates of Completion


Duplicate certificates of course completion shall be issued only through the Portland Office of the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
(See Policy and Procedures 4.4)

Federal Laws Applying to Hunter Education

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
Prohibit discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in the Hunter Education Program.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112):
Ensures that no qualified handicapped person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in the Hunter Education Program.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975:

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in the Hunter Education Program.  There is no minimum or maximum age requirement students must be to satisfactorily complete the course. Adults may take the course to qualify them to hunt in other states.

(See Policy and Procedures 2.1, 2.3 and 4.5)


Funding for the Oregon Hunter Education program comes almost exclusively from funds provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act (P-R).  The act provides $3.00 of federal aid for every dollar of state expenditure.

The original P-R Act placed a 10 percent excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition.  The funds collected by the federal government were made available to states solely for habitat restoration and rehabilitation, including the acquisition of land by purchase, lease or gift.

Hunter Education funding under federal aid came into being with the 1970 amendment to the original P-R Act, and it placed a 10 percent excise tax on pistols and revolvers.  Fifty percent of this tax was to be made available to states for the use in hunter education programs.  The amount of funds available for hunter education was increased in 1973, when 11 percent tax was placed on the sale of archery equipment.  Again, 50 percent of the tax dollars collected was to be made available for all states to use in state hunter education programs.   These excise tax receipts fund the Oregon program.

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act now states in part:

Sec. 4 (b) One-half of the revenues accruing to the fund under this Act each fiscal

year from any tax imposed on pistols, revolvers, bows and arrows, shall be apportioned among the States in proportion to the ratio that the population of each State bears to the population of all the states: Provided, that each State shall be apportioned not more than 3 percent and not less than 1 percent of such revenues.

Sec. 8 (b) Each State may use the funds apportioned to it under section 4 (b) of this Act to pay up to 75 percent of the costs of a hunter safety program and the construction, operation and maintenance of public target ranges, as part of such a program.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife enters into an annual contract with the U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service, administrators of the P-R Act, to provide training in hunter education. Conditions specified in our annual contract require the Department - and hunter education instructors specifically - to provide training in safety, conservation and sportsmanship, and to make training available to students without regard to race, creed national origin, sex, or age.  It is essential that the instructors adhere to the program and policy guidelines included in this manual.  Failure to do so can jeopardize the contract with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Each year volunteer hunter education instructors certify in excess of 9,000 young people to hunt in the state of Oregon and provide additional service to the state's adult hunters through advanced hunter education programs. Volunteer instructors are the primary reason hunter education in Oregon has been a success. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recognizes the contribution of volunteers and pledges continued support to the state's instructors.

Role of the volunteer

Volunteer employees are necessary, effective and important people. The uniqueness and value of volunteers in getting things done is generally acknowledged by society. Volunteer hunter education instructors provide valuable training services in their communities and represent a strong, positive force which can help neighbors and fellow citizens better understand the need for increased attention to hunting safety, hunter behavior and sportsmanship, and the issues affecting modern wildlife management.

Volunteer Supervision

The volunteer hunter education instructor is supervised by the State Coordinator through volunteer Area Coordinators and assistant Area Coordinators. All volunteer instructors have the right to take any grievance to the State Coordinator for action, however, whenever possible, instructors should work with their Area Coordinator to resolve problems.

Volunteer Training

Volunteer instructors will be provided the best possible training by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Department will also offer in-service training for certified instructors, and instructors will be expected to take advantage of every opportunity to expand their abilities and expertise.

Volunteer Rights

The volunteer hunter education instructor is considered a non-paid employee. The volunteer has the right to be assigned to a job that is worthwhile and challenging and to be informed about activities within the program.

Volunteer Responsibility

The volunteer has the responsibility to be dependable, prompt, efficient and pleasant. To be an effective volunteer requires a sincere interest in the work to be done, acceptance of supervision, and adherence to the Department policies. Volunteer employees are expected to up-hold high standards and to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the agency's role as a public servant.  Attention to personal cleanliness and appearance is expected. Volunteers may hold strong personal views on some issues that conflict with the Department's policies. However, they may not express these views when they are acting as volunteers for the Department. (See also Policy and Procedures 1.1 and 1.4)

5. The Volunteer Contract:

What We Do

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife agrees to:

  • Provide training for new instructors.
  • Provide annual in-service training for all instructors.
  •  Provide new instructors with a manual for the program.
  • Provide student manuals, completion certificates and other materials for distribution to students free of charge.
  • Provide films and other appropriate training aids.
  • Assist in finding classroom facilities for conducting hunter education courses when necessary.
  • Keep volunteer instructors informed of developments and activities in the program through personal, internet and written contact.
  • Allow volunteers an opportunity to meet periodically with hunter education staff and to provide input concerning effective program management and developments within the hunter education program.
  • Recognize outstanding service of volunteer instructors with annual awards.

      (See Policy and Procedures 1.5)

  • Promote the program and instructors in the media.
  • Review and develop training materials/aids for use in the program.
  • Provide assistance in securing and/or developing range facilities for use by hunter education students.
  • Resolve grievances involving hunter education instructors.
  • Evaluate instructor performance.

What You Do

The Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor agrees to:

  • Be committed to the hunter education program, its goals and objectives.
  • Teach at least one class or attend training every year.  (Attendance at training can only substitute for teaching once in every two years.) (see Policy and Procedures 1.2 and 1.7)
  • Know the subject being taught and properly prepare himself/herself to provide students with the very best instruction possible.
  • Teach the material in the Hunter Education manual furnished by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  If there is any conflict between the instructor's own philosophy and that found in the manual, the instructor will be expected to teach only that philosophy found in the manual.
  • Certify only those students who meet or exceed the minimum standards established by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and see that every student certified possesses the necessary skills and knowledge to be a safe and responsible hunter.
  •  Be available to assist other instructors.
  •  Be punctual and dependable and carry out duties promptly and reliably.
  • Accept evaluation as a positive process and continually work to broaden her/his knowledge of safe and ethical hunting practices and pass this improved knowledge on to the students.
  • Attend at least one in-service workshop every three years. See Policy and Procedure 1.2 and 1.7)
  • Refrain from the use of profanities, obscenities and other unbecoming language when in contact with students.
  • Refrain from making any insulting, demeaning or offensive remark about any student, race, religion or ethnicity.
  • Refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco when in contact with students.
  • Refrain from using alcoholic beverages before or during class.
  • Refrain from practicing or promoting any religious beliefs during class.
  • Keep the Portland office or area coordinator notified of any changes in address, phone number or email address.
  • Open his/her class to any other instructor for observation.  Instructors are strongly encouraged to team-teach with other instructors.
  • Recognize the bounds of volunteer responsibilities and authority.
  • Be neat, clean and accurate.
  • Wear a nametag during class session.
  • Accept the guidance and decisions of the Hunter Education staff. Maintain the dignity and integrity of the agency with the public.
  • Maintain the highest standards of firearm safety with all firearms including those personally owned. Any Department owned firearms that are loaned to an instructor must be used and safeguarded in accordance with Policy and Procedure 4.8
  • Obey and support ALL Fish and Wildlife laws and regulations.
  • Practice what YOU preach - in and out of the classroom.

The following outlines the procedures for certifying hunter education instructors.

a. Instructor applicant obtains an Instructor Application from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or Volunteer Area Coordinator.

b. Applicant fills out the application and returns it to the Area Coordinator or to the Hunter Education Coordinator, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, Salem, OR 97302 as directed. Area Coordinators are encouraged to interview the applicant in person or by telephone and comment on their suitability.

c. The exam is graded and a wildlife violation and criminal check is conducted on the applicant. Criminal convictions or violations of fish and wildlife laws or regulations may be grounds for denial of certification. Applicants passing both the exam and the criminal check are notified of their acceptance to the program.

d. Whenever possible the Area Coordinator will assign a new instructor to an existing teaching team who will supervise the applicant's student-teaching phase.

e. Once the new instructor has completed all four training phases they may teach classes as chief instructor.


Instructor certification may be revoked or suspended by the Department of Fish and Wildlife for the following reasons:

a. Failure or refusal to comply with program policies concerning course requirements or instructor responsibilities including failure to cooperate with volunteer area coordinators.

b. Failure to actively participate in the program, including failure to teach a class or attend training at least once a year (attendance at training in lieu of teaching can not be used in consecutive years). Normally, instructors will be given a year's grace period before being notified that they are being placed on the inactive list.

c. Conviction or forfeiture of bail for violations of any fish and wildlife laws or regulations.

d. Conviction of any felony and certain misdemeanors including those that result in a prohibition on possessing firearms

e. Falsifying program records.

f. Conducting the program for personal gain including: promoting a personal enterprise or business during the class or using funds collected from students or items purchased with those funds for personal purposes.

g. Conduct that is contrary to the ethical standards taught in the program.    

NOTE: Instructors who leave the program voluntarily with a good record may be reinstated by contacting the hunter education office or their area coordinator. Training requirements will depend on prior experience and length of absence from the program.

(See Policy and Procedures 1.7)

8. Procedure for Revocation of Instructor Certification:

a. For failure to remain active in the program:

Instructor records are reviewed annually or whenever required. In the event that an instructor has not met the minimum requirements for continuation as a hunter education instructor, the following steps will be taken:

(1) Instructor is sent written notification that minimum requirements to remain certified as an instructor have not been met.

(2) A copy of this letter will also be sent to the Area Coordinator.

(3) If the instructor wishes to remain active, they must contact the Area Coordination or State Coordinator.  With the agreement of the area coordinator and State Coordinator, the instructor may be given an extension of time to meet the minimum requirements.

(4) If no response from instructor is received within one month, the certification will be revoked and the instructor will be placed on the "Inactive" list.

(5) Instructors who wish to protest the decision to revoke certification should apply in writing to the state coordinator.

b. Termination for cause:

If an instructor is being considered for termination for disciplinary or other cause, the following procedure will be followed:

(1) The instructor is sent a letter telling them that revocation of their certificate is being considered.  They are invited to submit details of any extenuating circumstances within 2 weeks from the date of the letter. 

(2)  If no response is received within 2 weeks, the instructors' certificate will be revoked and they will be placed on the "Terminated" list.

(3) The State Coordinator will consider any letter of extenuating circumstances and the instructor will be notified of the final decision.

(4) In the event of gross violation of policies or when the State Coordinator determines that it is in the interests of the program, termination for cause may be immediate.

(5) Any instructor whose certification is revoked may appeal in writing to the Director, Information and Education Division, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 


New instructors must complete new instructor training within twelve months of being accepted into the program or lose their certification.  The training consists of four phases.

(See Policy and Procedures 1.2)

Phase I - A home study course that covers the policies and administrative procedures of the program (this manual). This can be done from this manual or on-line.

Follow the link from: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/outdoor_skills

Phase II - This three-hour block of instruction that covers the training syllabus, the approved videos and teaching techniques.

Phase III - Attend and successfully complete a hunter education class as a student (waived if a class has been completed in the previous two years).

Phase IV - Prepare a lesson plan and teach a class of at least one hour under the supervision of an experienced instructor.

Phases I-III may be completed in any order, but they must all be completed before phase IV.

The training requirements may be modified by the State Coordinator or the Area Coordinator based on prior teaching experience.


The Oregon Hunter Education Program is part of the Outdoor Skills Section of the Information and Education Division.    

Address for Mail:
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Information and Education Division
Hunter Education
4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE
Salem, Oregon 97302

Street Address for Package or Parcel Delivery:
4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE
Salem, Oregon 97302

Administrative staff, Myrna Britton, 503-947-6028





Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE  ::   Salem, OR 97302   ::    Main Phone (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-ODFW   ::   www.dfw.state.or.us

Contact odfw.web@state.or.us