Do You Need a License for a Bow and Arrow? Read This!

Do you need a license for a bow and arrow?  For most US states, the answer is Yes.

However, for aspiring hunters and bow owners, it is important to know if owning a bow and arrow is legal in your area. Owning a bow and arrow may not require a license, however, using is different as we will find out.

Bow and arrow license requirements in the US

Getting a bow and arrow license in the US depends on the states you reside, however not all states require you to have one. Albeit, if your bow and arrow are for hunting purposes, you should consider the following:

Bow and arrow license requirements in the US

Which license suits your needs

For archers, aspiring hunters, and others, there are different state licenses like the Maine Bow license which has to be strictly followed.

The game you want to hunt will also determine which license you should obtain. Talk to your local archery shop or game shop for more information.

Register and Pass a hunter course in your state

After finding out which license you might need for your bow and arrow, kindly take the test/exam and pass to have the legal status to hunt with your bow and arrow.

Pay for your hunting permit

After passing your hunting test, pay and secure your hunting permit as quickly as possible. Have a valid identification. This is very important to make acquiring your hunting license easier.

Most agencies and license issuing offices will accept SSN, Police reports, Driving licenses, and references.

Additional licenses may be necessary for your bow and arrow

Like we mentioned earlier, states differ in their action towards owning a bow and arrow, however, for states like New York, Kentucky, and Philadelphia, you are required to get a license, especially for hunters.

Furthermore, try to get different licenses especially if you are hunting several games. States like Philadelphia permit one to hunt a deer and beer with one license.

But if you want to use your bow and arrow to hunt turkeys, you will need an additional Turkey permit for this.

In New York, to hunt with a bow you will need bow hunting privileges in addition to your hunting license.

Bow and arrow permit responsibilities

For states  where you need a license, here are some responsibilities you must fulfill:

Bow and arrow permit responsibilities

  1. Any license issued can’t be transferred to another person except if it’s for hunting deer.
  2. You will be penalized for using another person’s license to hunt with a bow and arrow. The penalties can be very severe depending on the state.
  3. Bow Hunters and archers can only buy and acquire one license yearly. If you lose your license, you will have to wait till next year.
  4. Whenever you go hunting, always carry your license or you might run into trouble. Because refusal to show your license when asked by an officer or landowner is a crime.
  5. Hunters should make sure their permits are duly signed by the relevant agencies.

Penalties bow owners can face for hunting without a valid license

You can get into trouble for using a bow and arrow without a valid permit. These various penalties can be in the form of fines, misdemeanors, felonies, and in extreme cases, Jail time. Those new to hunting with bows and arrows should avoid poaching.

Poaching is the illegal killing and hunting of games without a license. There might be some instances where some people like farmers are not required to give a license to hunt small animals on their properties.

Penalties related to using a bow and arrow to hunt without a license include:


These fines range from state to state and can be as low as $500 and as high as $110,000, especially for repeated Offenders. The fine an offender will receive depends on its offense, bow used, and game killed.


Another penalty that can be melted out is multiple banning from owning a hunting bow and arrow. Bans sometimes come alone, however, in recent times, it comes with fines. For first-time Offenders, the ban might be between 6 months to a year.

However, for repeated Offenders, you can be banned for up to 10-15 years from hunting. Recently Animal activists have been clamoring for life bans for hunters of near-extinct animals.


Sometimes, bow hunters without licenses can be charged with a felony especially when you use your bow and arrow in a Government reservation center.

Also, some animals have been classified under the US Animal welfare act 1967, which shouldn’t be hunted. These animals include Elk, Beer, Wild pigs, and waterfowls. Hunting these animals will incur severe penalties.

Jail time

This is an extreme case because it’s rare to see Offenders going to jail for hunting without a valid license. However, it isn’t impossible, so the advice is to check in your respective states what the rules concerning owning and using a bow and arrow entails.


The best advice is to get the appropriate bows that are recommended for archery and hunting in your states, apply for hunting courses, buy the license and avoid penalties from the authorities.