Council and University of Montana Release Hunting Regulation Complexity Report

Washington, D.C. – A new report from the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (Council) and the Boone and Crockett Wildlife Conservation Program at the University of Montana (UM) finds numerous regulatory outliers among states and a large gap in knowledge about hunting regulation complexity.

The report, Analysis of Hunting Regulation Complexity 2023is a comprehensive review of hunting regulations across all 50 states and a literature review of studies pertaining to regulation complexity. For more than three decades, literature has suggested that the complexity of hunting regulations is a barrier to hunter participation and satisfaction. In 2022, the Council released the 2022 Special Report on Hunting and the Shooting Sports, which indicated about 30% of hunters reported complex regulations made it difficult to hunt. Despite self-reports from hunters that regulation complexity is an issue, and consistent recommendations to states to simplify regulations, we still do not know much about complexity, its impacts on hunter participation or how best to address regulation complexity.

One organization that has made progress in simplification of equipment regulations on a large scale is The Archery Trade Association (ATA). In 2017, they conducted a review of all 50 states’ bowhunting regulations surrounding equipment and provided direct recommendations to states about where they could improve. The ATA recently completed this review again for 2023 (Bowhunting Equipment Regulation Complexities in the United States 2023) and documented more than 60 improvements involving over 20 different regulatory metrics that were changed, making archery hunting less complex and easier for hunters to comply across the United States.

“We know ATA’s efforts have been good for bow hunters and they are having a positive impact on simplifying bowhunting equipment regulations,” said Director of Research and Partnerships, Swanny Evans. “Still, we do not know enough about overall regulation complexity and the impact it has on existing and potential hunters.”

Evans continued, adding the need for more research on complexity was the factor that drove the Council to partner with Dr. Joshua Millspaugh and his team to take the first step into investigating regulation complexity with a full 50-state evaluation and literature review.

“We are excited to work with the Council and other key partners to develop a collaborative research project that builds on this report to address what actions states might take to address regulation complexity and improve hunter satisfaction and participation,” said Dr. Joshua Millspaugh, Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation at UM.

The Council will devote an entire session at the 2023 National R3 Symposium May 22-25 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to hunting regulation complexity with an overview of this research and several presentations from individual states about their efforts to simplify regulations for their constituents. For more information visit the National R3 Symposium page at

and stay tuned for the agenda and registration opening March 1, 2023.

The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports mission is to facilitate the promotion and growth of hunting and the shooting sports and the education of the public on the contributions that hunters and shooters make towards wildlife conservation. For more information visit us online at

The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports is supported by the Multistate Conservation Grant Program as awarded by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (F22AP00350, F21AP00800, F20AP00182 and F20AP12194)

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