Becoming a Bowhunter

Due to lack of interest the Becoming a Bowhunter education program has been suspended until further notice.

*Due to lack of interest the Becoming a Bowhunter education program has been suspended until further notice.*

Becoming a Bowhunter Program

Click HERE to download a printable copy of all the information included on this page for the CBA's Becoming a Bowhunter Program.

A 2014 Resume - Steve Mitchell

Although there were a number of Phase I classes conducted during 2013, these participant numbers have been included in this 2014 overview of the Program.

The initial Phase I classes got underway during 2013 in the Program’s NW Region, the Denver Metro Region and the SE Region. Phase I classes and subsequent Phase II continued in these three Regions during 2014. There has been no BAB activity in the SW Region to date primarily because teaching facilities/locations have not yet been found. Also, the NE Region has yet to conduct any Phase I or Phase II instruction. This Region has been without a Program Manager until mid-2014 when Tiny Thompson accepted the NE responsibility. Tiny was “under the gun” almost immediately because of archery hunting license availability in 2014 in several GMU’s in NE Colorado.

By late summer several BAB participants in the NW, Denver Metro and the SE Regions had passed all their Phase II written tests and shooting skills tests and were excited to start Phase III mentored hunting. Two ranches in the SE Region had joined the Program, but that was not going to be enough for 15 to 20 hunters.

Tiny Thompson in August started knocking on ranch doors along the South Platte River in Logan and Sedgwick counties in the NE where “Left Over” licenses were available (GMU’s 89,90,91,92). Tiny continued marketing the BAB Program and soliciting ranch partnerships well into November, and eventually arranged for seven ranches to host BAB mentored hunting. Tiny’s outstanding effort resulted in (13) BAB hunters from the NW and the Denver Metro Regions having their first opportunity to bow hunt.

In the SE Region the Chico Basin Ranch, mostly in Pueblo County, hosted both pronghorn (from ground blinds) and whitetail deer (from tree stands) four BAB hunters. The Lasater Ranch in El Paso County was scheduled to host three hunters, but an error in the license applications (wrong GMU) caused the hunters to trade their licenses for Left Over ones in GMU 90 in the NE.

In the first twenty months of the BAB some (87) individuals entered the Program activities and (17) completed the Phase III mentored, licensed hunting. Although none of the (17) harvested an animal, all of them expressed their enjoyment/excitement with their initial bow hunting experience. Typical comments: “I’m going to really practice on the 3D targets; I can hardly wait for the next hunting season.”

It was a Program disappointment to not start the BAB in the SW Region. I spoke with Patt Dorsey, the CPW SW Regional Manager, and she will help us find/create facilities to kick off Phase I instruction and a practice location for Phase II. As noted above, Tiny Thompson’s achievements in 2014 Phase III hunting will give him a running start on Phases I and II in 2015. Tiny’s enthusiasm gives us confidence that the NE Region will have its share of full program participants during 2015.

Those of you reading about Becoming A Bowhunter for the first time probably don’t know that it is a “partnership program” of the CBA and the CPW, conceived and organized under the 2012 CPW challenge “Partners in the Outdoors”. An example of this essential partnership in the BAB Program is the Phase I instruction conditions. The BAB instructors are trained as part of the CPW’s Archery in the Schools Program. Phase I and Phase II classroom space and some equipment are made available by the CPW for BAB use. This sharing was particularly effective in initiating the BAB Program in the SE Region and periodically in the Denver Metro Region. The BAB Program will during 2015 try to duplicate this “partnering” in the NW Region, particularly the Grand Junction area, to help grow the participation numbers, after an excellent start focused in Glenwood Springs. Ron Velarde, the CPW NW Regional Manager, indicated to me his enthusiasm to help us expand the BAB activities in his Region during 2015.

The Becoming A Bowhunter Program is fully described below. If you have ever thought about learning to hunt with a bow and arrow, read on and then join the fun and excitement in the Colorado region where you live.

Program Overview

"Excitement for a Lifetime"

In 2012 the CBA embarked on one of the largest and most significant programs in its 43 year history. We are organizing and staffing a bow hunter education program that will take an individual with an interest in our sport, but little or no knowledge of archery, and train them to hunt with a bow and arrow. They will not only learn how to shoot and hunt, but also understand our wildlife and habitat conservation commitment, archery safety factors and our bow hunter legacy. To further ensure their lifetime participation, the program concludes with a guided 3-day big game hunt on private ranch lands. The program is called Becoming A Bowhunter.

In 2011 the State's two major outdoor organizations, State Parks and the Division of Wildlife were merged into Colorado Parks & Wildlife, CPW. One of the early goals of the CPW is to halt the decline in the populations participation in outdoor recreation and more specifically fishing and hunting. The CPW has challenged the private sector with a new Initiative: "Partners in the Outdoors". Mike King, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, where CPW resides, asked the outdoor industry "So tell us, how can we help you do what you do? What resources can we provide? What can all of us do together that we can not do alone?"

The old Division of Wildlife hosted a meeting in Colorado Springs in May of 2011 with some 40 organizations in attendance, in which the DOW defined the declining participation problem and the financial impact it was having. The DOW asked "What do you recommend be done? The responses were significant and varied. Eight months later in February of 2012 the new CPW invited over a 100 organizations to come to Parker, CO and learn about a new Initiative "Partners in the Outdoors" in which Mike King issued his challenge.

Becoming A Bowhunter is the CBA's response to the CPW challenge. The CBA has introduced archery to youth and adults for years, at archery shops, sporting good stores, our Jamboree and at club ranges. However, there has never been a serious state wide effort to teach the skills needed to be a successful hunter with a bow and arrow. As most of us have witnessed, when individuals are taught to shoot a bow in a school PE class, an archery shop or even in the back room of a sports store, the initial enthusiasm is high. However, unless there is another member in the family who bow hunts, they seldom continue in archery, rarely even make it to a 3D range. The CBA is determined to help solve this problem and several other hurdles with the Becoming A Bowhunter program.

The program is organized into three progressive Phases: Phase I- Introduction to Archery; Phase II- Bowhunter Ed and 3D Field Training, and Phase III- Guided Big Game Hunting. This organization and program content is shown in Figure 1.

The program will be conducted simultaneously throughout the state of Colorado and managed on a Regional basis; four geographic Regions: NE, NW, SE, SW plus a fifth Region, Metropolitan Denver. The CBA Program Organization Chart is shown in Figure 2. The Regional Program Managers will conduct Becoming A Bowhunter, all three Phases, in their respective Regions. Below are summaries of what will be taught in each of the three Phases.

A critical ingredient in Becoming A Bowhunter is the concept of "partners in the outdoors." This CPW Initiative must be implemented a number of times in each Phase in each Region. For example, the CBA must find one or more partners to provide classroom space to teach Phase I in each Region. Phase II requires a quality 3D range; acreage needs dictate a partnership. Example: the 3D range under construction at Cheyenne Mtn. State Park is a CBA-CPW partnership that will meet the needs of the SE Region, at least initially. Private ranch lands where Phase III hunts will occur will all be partnerships, CBA-CPW & the ranch family. The Lasater family ranch in Elbert county is a prime example of a Phase III partnership for the SE Region. When the program is in"full swing" it will involve 20-30 partnerships.

The management team of "Becoming A Bowhunter" has been laying the foundation for this program for nearly two years. Effective collaboration between the CBA and the CPW is creating opportunities that otherwise would be impossible. 2013 should produce the initial "graduates" of the program with many more to follow, a pipeline of new hunters.

So you ask: "I want to be a bow hunter; how do I enter the program?"

You fill out the application form shown below as Figure 3, and send it to the Program Manager of the Region in which you live. The names and addresses by Region are also shown below.

Here are some guidelines, requirements and information that will be helpful in completing your application.

1. Who can register for Becoming A Bowhunter?

Anyone interested in the sport of archery and wanting to learn to bow hunt. The minimum age is 10 yrs.; there is no senior age limit.

2. Do I have to start in Phase I if I have been shooting a bow for a few years?

No, you can enter the program in Phase II; however, you must pass a written test on information presented in Phase I and also demonstrate your shooting skill level at an indoor range.

3. Do I have to have all my own archery equipment to enter the program?

No, you can complete Phase I using CBA equipment donated by program sponsors. However, you must have your own bow, arrows and accessories in the early part of Phase II.

4. I'm 14; do my parents have to go to all the classes/training sessions with me?

No, participants 16 yrs. and younger only have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian during the Phase III hunts. You are expected to be on time for all classes and training sessions.

5. How much does it cost to participate in all three Phases of the program?

There is a $25 fee for both Phase I and Phase II and $50 for Phase III. Each fee is due at the beginning of each Phase. These fees only cover administrative expenses i.e., records keeping, handout materials, written tests, etc. The more significant expenses of field equipment i.e. 3D targets, tree stands, ground blinds etc. are paid for by sponsors and partners of the Becoming A Bowhunter program for which the CBA is very grateful.

You will see posters/banners with names of our sponsors and partners in the Classrooms, 3D ranges and ranch hunts. Please thank them for their generosity whenever you have the opportunity.

6. When will the CBA begin taking registrations for the program?

As this article goes to press in Dec. 2012, the plan is to start teaching Phase I in April 2013, Phase II in July 2013, and a limited Phase III in August 2013. Applications will start being accepted the month before the start up dates mentioned above.

7. How will I find out where and when the Phases will be conducted in my Region?

You will receive a written assignment of which Phase, where and when as soon as your registration is received and accepted by your Regional Program Manager.

8. Are there any other requirements for entering the program?

You must have taken the State of Colorado's Hunter Ed course before starting Becoming A Bowhunter. Please send your application form and check to the Program Manager of the Region where you live as shown at the bottom of this page.

Figure 1 — Program Organization and Content

Phase I — Introduction to Archery
  • History of the sport
  • Equipment
  • Safety factors
  • Shooting fundamentals

Teach archery history, safety factors, demonstrate equipment and teach the fundamentals of shooting a bow and arrow; introduce the basics of conservation.

Partnerships – Facilities

  • Archery Shops
  • Sporting Goods Stores
  • Archery in the Schools

Core Subjects

  • Archery history
  • Archery equipment
  • How to handle and shoot a bow and arrow
  • Basic first aid
  • Archery safety and factors
  • Conservation awareness
  • Importance of practice

Phase II — Bowhunter Education and 3D Archery Field Training
  • Shooting and hunting skills
  • Practice and more practice
  • Written and skills testing

Teach the Bowhunter Ed course, develop hunting and shooting skills using 3D targets, provide skills testing.

Partnerships – Facilities

  • Archery Shops
  • Sporting Goods Stores
  • Archery in the Schools

Core Subjects

  • Introduction to bowhunting
  • Wildlife conservation and management
  • Safe an responsible bowhunting
  • Ethics and landowner relations
  • Colorado hunting laws and regulations
  • Preparation for the hunt
  • Shot placement, effective range
  • Bow hunting tactics
  • Game recovery and field dressing
  • Know/understand your equipment
  • Orienteering, survival and safety/first aid

Field Exercises

  • Game identification
  • Range estimation, shoot-no shoot
  • Establishing your effective range
  • Blood trailing and tracking
  • 3D range, practice, practice, practice
  • Demonstrating shooting competency
Phase III — Guided Archery Hunting
  • Private Ranch Opportunities
  • Deer
  • Pronghorn
  • Turkey

Experience the excitement of close range hunting and the skills necessary for success with a bow.

Private ranches
Field equipment

Core Subjects

  • Learning patience
  • Staying calm
  • Pre-ranging objects
  • Deciding to shoot or not
  • Occupying blinds, stands
  • Minimizing sounds/smells
  • Respecting private property
  • Plotting and using map data
  • Choosing hunting methods

Game identification

  • Range estimation, shoot-no shoot
  • Establishing your effective range
  • Blood trailing and tracking
  • 3D range, practice, practice, practice
  • Demonstrating shooting competency
  • In the Field
  • Camping on the ranch
  • Three days of hunting
  • Caring for a harvest




*Phase III is licensed, guided hunting. Once a participant has completed Phases I and II and demonstrated adequate proficiency shooting a bow and arrow, he/she will be taken on a "real" hunt on a private ranch. The license from the CPW is a reward for satisfactory completing Phases I and II. A parent/guardian must accompany the mentor and a youth (12-16) on a hunt.

Figure 2 — CBA Becoming a Bowhunter Program Organization Chart

Phase I: Introduction to Archery

A. Introduction
Phase I of the Colorado Bowhunters Association's (CBA) Becoming a Bowhunter Program is designed as a true introduction to the growing sport of archery. Boys and girls, men and women are all welcome. Ten years is the minimum age and there is no senior limit. All the CBA asks is that you make a serious commitment to learn to shoot a bow & arrow. We would like you to be a member of a family that is a member of the CBA, but it is not a requirement.

Phase I of Becoming a Bowhunter is in response to youngsters who are attracted to the sport of archery and to adults who have that feeling "I wish I had taken up archery; I love to hunt, but I am tired of the rifle." Also, there are young adults who lament "I learned to shoot a bow, but I never learned to hunt with it."

One of the key objectives of Phase I is to acquaint the beginner with no knowledge, or a senior with 20 years of recurve experience, with today's archery materials and designs - bows, arrows, targets and accessories.

No serious equipment purchases are required in Phase I. The CBA and program sponsors (partners) have provided the teaching equipment. The participant must provide the commitment to learn - some of the sport's history, to shoot with some competency and to practice the safety factors involved.

A secondary objective is to make the beginning archer aware of the importance and effort put into conservation of wildlife and their habitat. Without these management activities there would be no opportunities to hunt, with a bow or a rifle or anything else. Bow hunters are significant supporters and contributors to conservation activities and ethics.

Phase I participants must pass written tests and bow & arrow shooting accuracy tests before they can "graduate" to Phase II. The Phase I graduates should also make up their minds that they really want to learn to hunt, and are willing to put in the time and practice before entering Phase II.

There are typically 8 - 12 hours of instruction in Phase I, plus additional indoor shooting practice time depending upon the individual. There is a $25 fee for Phase I to cover administration and documentation costs.

B. History of the Sport

Archery has a fascinating history going back some 5000 years to the ancient Egyptians. Participants in Phase I will learn how the Chinese and Japanese used the bow and arrow; how and why the Assyrians changed from a long bow to a recurve in the 1500's BC, and finally how the compound bow was conceived and patented in 1969. The heritage of the bow and arrow is truly amazing.

C. Equipment Review & Defining Factors

The following equipment will be presented, discussed and demonstrated with an emphasis on safety factors and conditions:

Bows: Long bows, Archery accessories, Recurve bowsm, Selecting a bow, Compound bows, How they vary
Arrows: Shaft, Pounds of Pull & You, Fletching, Draw length, Nock, Matching an arrow, Point, Length and strength

D. Learning to Shoot the Bow and Arrow

The compound bow has been in development for over 40 years and today's beginner models have made learning to shoot much easier. The National Archery in the Schools Program is having great success with the single cam Genesis bow built by Mathews. Phase I will introduce archery shooting with this same equipment using a systematic technical approach to select and learn to use today's equipment. Below is an overview of the steps in learning to shoot.

  1. Determine a participant's dominant eye. A "right eyed" person will hold a bow with their left hand. A "left eyed" person will hold a bow with their right hand.
  2. Determine bow weight (pull) by comfortably pulling the string straight back to the side of the face and holding it there.
  3. Measure the draw length when the string is pulled back to the anchor point on the side of the face.
  4. The draw length will determine the arrow length the individual will be shooting.

Once the proper bow and arrows have been selected (sized to the individual), shooting practice will begin, teaching the participant how to see the target with both eyes open and how to smoothly pull and release the string.

Safety factors will be stressed on how to shoot from a "firing line" with several other archers and when & how to retrieve arrows from the target. Paying attention and following instructions are considered extremely important in learning to handle and shoot a bow safely.”

After a newcomer to archery has learned to approach the shooting line, nock an arrow, draw the bow, aim and release the string . . . and hit the target at 10 - 15 yds. fairly systematically, they will be introduced to today's archery accessories; what they accomplish, why and how they contribute to becoming a better bow hunter. These include peep sights, string loops, and string silencers. Fall away arrow rests, bow stabilizers, bow sights and string releases. Deciding on accessories will become increasingly important as the participant progresses into Phase II training.

E. Advancing to Phase II

Phase I is the "first step" in becoming a bow hunter, and it is essential to learn the facts and skills presented. Should the participant decide at the end of Phase I he or she does not want to become a hunter, that is OK. Archery is a fun sport, an Olympic event, and hours spent in the outdoors on a 3D range can be exciting and satisfying. "I got 8's & 10's and did not miss an animal!"

However, if you now really want to learn to hunt with a bow, Phase II is the "next step"! This is an important commitment. In Phase II you must select and purchase your own equipment, a bow, arrows and accessories. Although an archery shop may allow you to try out different makes and models in the early stages of Phase II, you must learn and practice with your own equipment to become effective enough to pass the shooting tests required to move on to Phase III. The Phase II instructors will give participants all the help they need to select the proper equipment, sized to each, specifically. Phase II is challenging, exciting and very rewarding. Go for it!

Phase II: Bowhunter Ed and 3D Archery Field Training

A. Introduction

An archery student entering Phase II of the CBA’s Becoming a Bowhunter Program must have successfully completed all classes and tests in Phase I of the Program, or if the participant has had some experience in shooting a bow and arrow and wants to learn how to hunt with a bow, he or she must take and pass the written Phase I Equivalency Test to enter Phase II.

Phase II is specifically aimed at teaching the Bowhunter Education Course, archery hunting skills, wildlife habitat and conservation plus wildlife management, all critical to today’s bow hunter.

Successful completion of Phase II includes the National Bowhunter Education Foundation/Colorado Parks & Wildlife (NBEF/CPW) Bowhunter Education Course (BHEC) and will earn the participant a BHEC Certificate, an important step in becoming a bow hunter.

To successfully complete Phase II, the student must attend all classes, participate in all activities identified by the instructor, show an understanding of how important safety precautions are in handling a bow & arrow, pass the BHEC final examination, plus pass the Phase II 3D range shooting skills tests.

It is anticipated that many participants will require several seasons of 3D target shooting practice to achieve shooting competency to be able to move on to Phase III, a licensed, private ranch, guided hunt of Colorado game animals/turkeys. Earning the Phase III opportunity is the ultimate goal of the CBA’s Becoming a Bowhunter Program.

B. Bowhunter Education Course

Unit I Introduction to Bow Hunting

Unit II Wildlife Conservation and Management

Unit III Safe & Responsible Bow Hunting

Unit IV Know Your Bow and Arrow

Units V Preparation Before the Hunt

Unit VI Methods of Bow Hunting

Unit VII
            a .Shot Placement
            b. Game Recovery
            c. Field Dressing

Unit VIII Outdoor Preparedness
Field Exercises
            a. Range estimation, shoot, no shoot
            b. Broadhead shooting and effective range
            c. Elevated stand shooting
            d. Blood trailing and marking
            e. Shooting from a blind

The BHE should take a minimum of 14 hours to complete, 11 hours in the classroom and 3 hours for field exercises.

Final Examination:

This is a written test to determine if participants have acquired the knowledge to become an ethical, effective bow hunter, who can appreciate this exciting and rewarding opportunity in Colorado.

C. 3D Target Practice and Shooting Competency Testing

Participants are expected to practice and practice shooting at 3D targets to develop adequate shooting skills. Colorado’s big game animals will not go down and be recovered unless the arrow deeply penetrates the kill zone. To accomplish this takes PRACTICE! A local 3D range supporting Becoming a Bowhunter Program is highly recommended.

When the student feels he or she is ready to take the 3D targets shooting tests, they will notify their instructor and arrange a date and location. These shooting tests may be taken multiple times, until the instructor decides the student has adequate shooting ability to move on to Phase III.

D. Earning the Phase III Opportunity

A participant moving on to a Phase III hunt is intended as a reward for his or her effort to learn all the essentials to become an effective bow hunter. After Phase I has presented the fundamentals, Phase II is critical in mastering the needed techniques and skills, judging distance, shooting from a tree stand, setting a ground blind, decision to shoot or not, etc. Possessing knowledge of the Colorado habitat and the game animals is vital. Demonstrating adequate skill with the bow and arrow is a must. When an “archery student” qualifies for Phase III, they have earned the opportunity to hunt and experience “excitement for a lifetime.”

Phase III: Mentored Hunt

A. Introduction

Phase III is the final Phase of the CBA’s Becoming a Bowhunter Program. This is when everything a participant has learned in Phases I and II needs to be integrated and applied. Participants have earned the license and the chance to harvest a game animal with a bow and arrow by their performance in Phases I and II.

Phase III hunts are conducted on private ranches under partnership agreements between the CBA, CPW and the ranches. Hunting regulations and requirements are spelled out in these agreements; many are unique and distinct to the ranch. The hunts are three days long, specific to the species of wildlife (deer, pronghorn or turkey, occasionally elk) and limited in quantity per ranch. When the hunts will be conducted is scheduled during the first quarter of the calendar year. Nearly all the hunts are planned before or after the regular State archery seasons. The Region schedules may vary based upon wildlife factors.

Hunting conditions may vary ranch to ranch, Region to Region. Participants are expected to hunt in the same Region in which they took their Phase I and Phase II training. Many of these instructors in the two Phases will continue and become mentors in the Phase III hunts. When they already know the participants, they become even more efficient/effective; a real advantage to the hunter. Hunting times and ranches will be assigned to participants as early as possible after their satisfactory completion of Phase II.

B. Preparing to Hunt

At the conclusion of Phase II participants will be given several “check lists” designed to help prepare for the Phase III hunt. The Archery Equipment List is obviously important; use it and add to it for future hunts. The Campsite List is useful too. Most ranches will have a large tent and cooking facilities, drinking water, porta potties, etc. The instructors/mentors will provide specific lists based upon ranch assignments. Campsites will have a 3D target so instructors can check out participants and their equipment to assure both are “ready to hunt.” Some ranch locations will have the option to stay in a nearby motel and eat restaurant meals. Food (3 days worth) is the responsibility of the participant regardless if they camp out or stay in a motel. You will be told if you have a choice.

A Clothing-Personal Hygiene list will be provided. Minimizing human scent is important in any big game hunting, and it is critical in archery hunting. “If they smell you, you will not get a shot.” The instructors will advise you on bathing, use of deodorants and changing clothes. Appropriate camouflage clothing is another very important ingredient in successful bow hunting. “You can fool their eyes but not their nose!” The ranch habitat can influence the color and pattern of the camouflage you wear. In a blind you wear black; in a tree stand you try to blend in with the branches. Be prepared!

C. Scouting - Mapping Your Area

Familiarity with the area you plan to hunt is another key ingredient to successful bow hunting. Trail locations, water sources, feeding and bedding areas are conditions you should know about. Trailcam images and times can be extremely useful. Phase III hunts are 3-days maximum and participants will be given maps of their assigned ranch with the important data plotted as if the hunter had scouted the area carefully before the hunt. Learn to read and use the map; it is a part of the Phase III training.

D. Selecting a Hunting Method

Depending on the Region and the ranch assigned, one of three hunting methods may be favored; a ground blind, a tree stand or spot and stalking. Whether you have been assigned a mule deer, a whitetail deer, a pronghorn or a turkey will affect your method choice. The instructors will discuss the pros and cons of the methods for a given ranch location. Recent trailcam data will be considered.

E. Finding and Caring for Harvested Animals/Birds

Every effort will be made to recover a deer, pronghorn or turkey hit by a participant’s arrow. The techniques learned in Phase II for blood trailing and field dressing will be used. “Learn by doing” is an effective strategy. A bow hunting success in Phase III will not soon be forgotten and should lead to continuing “excitement for a lifetime.”

Application for Becoming a Bowhunter Program

Click HERE to download the application. Then pick the PM in the Region where you live and either e-mail or post mail him the completed application. (If e-mailing application, bring your check to the first class meeting, otherwise, please include it in your envelope when mailing.)

Program Managers by Region:


NW Region:

  • Walt Krom <- LINK
  • Fred Turner <- LINK

SW Region:

  • Grant Siggins <- LINK

NE Region:

  • Paul Navarre <- LINK
  • Tim "Tiny" Thompson <- LINK

SE Region:

  • Charlie Ooley <- LINK
  • George Williams <- LINK

Metro Denver Region:

  • Robert Ventura <- LINK

Form Needed Here