South Dakota Is Latest State to Make NRA’s Free, Online Hunter Ed Course Available

South Dakota Is Latest State to Make NRA’s Free, Online Hunter Ed Course Available

Recently South Dakota’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) announced it had partnered with the National Rifle Association (NRA) to provide that state’s hunters with the option of using the NRA’s free online hunter education course. In doing so, South Dakota becomes the 14th state to give its citizens the option of this free, easy access course.

South Dakota (like many other states) also has an in-person “field day” requirement for hunter ed purposes. Any hunter education student younger than 16 years old will need to complete a field day with hunter ed instructors after the completion of the online course to receive the South Dakota “HuntSAFE” certification. As NRA HLF reported in 2022, the NRA introduced this award-winning online course back in 2017 to help make it easier for new hunters nationwide to become certified and head afield. As many hunters and state wildlife agencies expected, the program has been a success.

“Easier” refers to the fact that online instruction means the material is available 24/7 at students’ convenience and is offered free of charge, removing the sometimes-prohibitive cost barrier of traditional hunter education courses—all of which encourages new hunters to take the first step toward getting a hunting license. The course also makes it easier for seasoned hunters to benefit from revisiting the material.

Since its inception, more than 150,000 people have accessed the NRA’s free online hunter education course. The NRA’s role in this arena is no surprise considering it was the NRA that created the first-ever hunter education program in the United States in 1949. Today’s online version offers a fresh approach to hunter education. As explained in the video housed on the NRA Hunter Education course website, the 15-chapter, online course features attention-grabbing videos, graphics. diagrams, interactive modules, audio recordings and action photos that are presented in easy-to-access components that provide an ideal method for teaching aspiring hunters.

As for the NRA’s ongoing investment in education and training for American hunters, a 2019 article that ran in NRA’s American Hunter and on this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website noted that the NRA invested some $3 million in the creation and implementation of the comprehensive online NRA Hunter Education course. Additionally, it announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) now permits state wildlife agencies to claim a dollar value of the NRA’s course as in-kind match dollars to access federal Pittman-Robertson (P-R) grant funds. “The move marks a major win for the NRA and state wildlife agencies—which rely on the P-R dollars administered by the USFWS’ Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Division for their fish and wildlife conservation programs—and is a giant step forward in bolstering states’ hunter recruitment efforts and the national NRA-backed R3 movement (Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation),” the article shared.

In addition to the state agencies that currently offer the free, online NRA Hunter Education course, tribal members of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS) are also using the course.

To take the free online NRA Hunter Education course or to learn more about how to get it approved for use in your state, click here or email [email protected].