Bill Wadsworth and the History of Bowhunter Education
It is only right to say a word about the founder of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation. Bill Wadsworth dedicated his life to bowhunter education. It was late in 1967 when Bill and a small group of bowhunters met in upstate New York to write a book about bowhunting. Their desire to write the book had been fueled by what they had seen while participating in the previous bowhunting season for deer. At that moment, their goal was simple: To find a way for archers who hunted game with a bow and arrow to get all the facts about bowhunting BEFORE they ventured into the wilds to learn via trial and error.
The resulting first book was printed in 1969 by the New York State Field Archery Association and sold for $1.25. Soon after the initial publication, the bowhunter education course began to take form; experienced bowhunters began to follow the guidelines in the book and pass on the basic facts about bowhunting. For the first time, subjects such as conservation law, the “unwritten law” of the bowhunter, facts on how an arrow harvests game, bowhunting safety, how to practice, lures, calls, scents, bowhunting methods, shot placement, and the responsibilities of being a bowhunter were being taught in an organized bowhunter education class.
As chairman of the conservation and bowhunting committee of the National Field Archery Association (NFAA), Bill Wadsworth’s top priority was bowhunter education. Thanks to the support of the NFAA, the International Bowhunter Education Program (IBEP) was taught in state after state, and later, in the Canadian provinces. An expanded manual entitled Bowhunting Deer was published.
If bowhunting as we know and enjoy it is to survive, we must be hunters who appreciate and respect the environment in which we hunt, as well as maintain a strong desire to uphold the highest standards for our sport.
In 1979, the IBEP became a nonprofit organization, separate from the NFAA, known as the National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF). Twenty-one volunteers, many of whom came from the nucleus of those originally a part of the NFAA conservation and bowhunting committee, became board members and directed the program. To this day, millions of volunteer hours have been logged by dedicated bowhunters who continue in the spirit of those who began the course back in 1967. Every year, approximately 70,000 bowhunters are educated through the IBEP, which is still administered by the NBEF.
During his lifetime, Bill Wadsworth presided over numerous state, national, and international organizations related to bowhunting. Because of his distinguished volunteer efforts in creating and promoting the IBEP, he received numerous awards and citations. In 1999, Bill was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame. Bill’s tireless energy, boundless enthusiasm, and love of the sport of bowhunting are all very much a part of what is taught today. Bill Wadsworth is a shining challenge to all of us.