A Study in Skill:  How the Germans do it

One possible solution to satiating the needs of the Achievement-oriented hunter and eliminating deficient skill is to emplace strict testing requirements. In Germany, obtaining hunting privileges is as rigorous as obtaining an associate’s degree from a university. The hunter spends years in training before a license is ever granted. Even after the Jager becomes properly qualified, he must retest at least annually proving his skills in marksmanship are still up to snuff. Though not mandatory, the Deutscher Jagdschutz-Verband (DJV), or “German Hunter’s Association”, sponsors competitions for hunters throughout the year, one of the most prominent being the Jahreschiessnadel. The badge granted to successful shottists isn’t a one-time award. To keep their badge, hunters are required to attend and pass the minimum standards of the Jahreschiessnadel event every year.

Herd management in a given area is assigned to a local Revierpächter, who is a specially assigned hunter responsible to the local authorities for taking a certain number of head in a given area each season. The Revierpächter handpicks the hunters in his area and results at the DJV courses weigh heavily in the decision. So, even passing regular mandated tests aren’t enough. A hunter that is fully qualified may still be denied to hunt simply because other hunters in the area proved more skillful.

The advantage to this system is clear: The hunter is forced to demonstrate a high level of skill before a hunting license is even considered and he must continuously maintain and demonstrate that skill. An example of how the average German hunter’s skill compares to the average American hunter can be observed in the clothing they wear. German hunters wear green in the field. Blaze orange clothing isn’t necessary.

Despite a few imprudent claims to the contrary, we do not support adopting such a system for American hunters. Making the process so difficult provides a major roadblock in encouraging more participation. We feel the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits and such a policy would greatly reduce the number of hunters, thus, it would prove counter productive. Instead, we seek to instill similar high standards through voluntary programs, not by government decree. Our goal is to motivate hunters into choosing excellence in their field marksmanship skills on their own.