About the Study Guide

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Bowhunting dates back to the Stone Age and can be traced throughout history in many regions around the world, including Asia, Europe, and North America. Native Americans were skilled bowhunters. While their bows and arrows were often crude, they overcame the limitations of their equipment with their exceptional ability to stalk within close range of wary prey. The ability to get close to game remains the essence of all bowhunting today.

As immigrants moved into North America, they gradually combined European and Native American archery techniques and technology. The first archery club in America, known as the United Bowmen of Philadelphia, was formed in 1828.

The writings of bowhunters Will and Maurice Thompson helped popularize bowhunting in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1878, Maurice Thompson published the book The Witchery of Archery, which inspired many more individuals to pick up a bow and arrow. In 1879, the newly founded National Archery Association (NAA) held the first U.S.-sponsored tournament.

Cave drawings of primitive bowhunters

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Video Transcript

Bowhunting is an ancient, time-honored pursuit. Today’s bowhunters share a kinship with hunters as far back as the Stone Age. Like our ancestors, we’re challenged by the fine-tuned senses and wariness of our prey. We’re compelled to continually refine our skills to ensure that we’re responsible, humane hunters. The rewards are many. Each trip afield engages all our senses in a rich, colorful, sometimes mysterious natural world where time is measured more by changing shadows than by a clock or watch. There’s a unique satisfaction in knowing that, as bowhunters, we are an integral part of the natural world.

This video segment is from The Basics of Bowhunting: Traditions In Safe and Ethical Bowhunting on the 2003 Kansas Bowhunter Education DVD produced by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; written, directed, photographed, and edited by Gene Brehm; and narrated by Bob Mathews.