The Council and the University of Montana publish report on the complexity of hunting regulation

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 the complexity of hunting regulation.

The report, Analysis of the Complexity of the Regulation of Hunting 2023, is a comprehensive review of hunting regulations in all 50 states and a literature review of studies related to the complexity of regulation. For more than three decades, the literature has suggested that the complexity of hunting regulations is a barrier to hunter participation and satisfaction. In 2022, the Council published the 2022 Special Report on Hunting and Shooting Sports, indicating that about 30% of hunters reported that complex regulations made hunting difficult. Despite self-reports by hunters that regulatory complexity is a problem and consistent recommendations to states to simplify regulations, we still don’t know much about complexity, its impacts on hunter participation, or the best way to to address the complexity of regulation.

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

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

Evans continued, adding that the need for more research on complexity was the factor that led the Council to partner with Dr. Joshua Millspaugh and his team to take the first step in regulatory complexity research with a comprehensive assessment of 50 states and a review of the literature.

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

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

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

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

The Council for the Advancement of Hunting and Shooting Sports is supported by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Multi-State Conservation Grant Program and the U.S. Service Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program. US Fish and Wildlife (F22AP00350, F21AP00800, F20AP00182, and F20AP12194)