Bowhunting in Europe
Bowhunting Nations
Bowhunting Nations

Please check with local authorities before you enter any adventures abroad.



When hunting abroad, the “reciprocity rule” indicates that each hunter must fulfil his/her national requirements before venturing on a hunt abroad. The International Bowhunter Education Program (IBEP) is an additional, advanced course for those who choose bow and arrow as his/her hunting tool. It is not unusual that the national agency need proof of your educational level or skill to be offered a hunting licence.




The list below does not in any way claim to be 100% correct since new regulations and changes always come up. The possibility to hunt with bow in some way is often there, in some instances it may be on estates, where the game is surrounded by fence or it may be restricted to small game or non-game species.



               EC regulations

The EC regulations, specifically the 6th Annex in the “Habitat Directive 9243” does not forbid any member state to adopt the use of bow and arrow as a means to harvest game. Hunting with bow and arrow is mentioned as one of several approved of hunting methods in the document; European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity.



Legal as of January 2009



Legalised in 1995, following a long period during which bowhunting was not regulated. All game animals can be hunted with bow and arrow. A current estimate gives in excess of 14.000 bowhunters in France.

As of 2003 the use of a release aid is now allowed as well as shorter bows.

As of the 13th September 2003 the French bowhunter education program is mandatory in France

As of 2008 all foreign bowhunters will be allowed to purchase a 10 day hunting licence.



Bowhunting has always been allowed for small game, this was formalised in 1993. The Finnish hunting law governs the bow and arrow as a hunting tool. As of 2001 the addition of game up to and including Roedeer (Capreolus capreolus) and beaver (Castor fibris) was made. Regulations state that the force of the bow must be min 180 Newton pull force (40# draw weight), "point must be direct killing when a good hit is made" For Roedeer and beaver must a broadhead with at least 22 mm diameter be used. When you hunt beaver your arrow must be attached to the to the bow with a tracking string. 

Need for national hunter education to bowhunt.

Beaver and Roedeer  Min Ø 22-mm cutting edged hunting point

Lesser game:                               “Direct killing point”



Legal for game up to and including roedeer.

Hunting with bow and arrow was made illegal in 1967 but was immediately put on a dispensation system until legalised in 1999 for Roedeer & lesser game.

Roedeer, fox, hare and geese: Minimum Kinetic Energy 40 Joules (29,5 Ft/lbs.) Broadhead: min 25mm (1") diameter and three or more razor-sharp edges. Minimum arrow weight: 25 grams.

Smallgame: Minimum Kinetic Energy 40 Joules (29,5 Ft/lbs.) Broadhead: min 22mm (7/8") diameter and two or more razor-sharp edges. Minimum arrow weight: 20 grams.

 There are no restrictions to bow type. Presently all hunters must take Danish Bowhunter exam in Denmark as well as pass a proficiency test. Five out of six hunting arrows have to hit within the vital area of respectively Roedeer, fox, hare, goose, pheasant and duck. Distance varying from 5 to 25 meters. The bow must fulfil the requirements for hunting.

When using mechanical points the energy of the arrow has to be 70 Joules or more.

A study is underway on the effects on hunting Roedeer (Capreolus capreolus) with bow and arrow. The first five years have shown a wounding rate of less than 5,6%

The Danish bowhunter must have national hunting education as well as an additional bowhunter education complete with a proficiency test. The proficiency test needs to be updated every five years.

Regulations were changed in 2009, this makes it easier for foreigner to bowhunt in Denmark.

Legal as of 2012 for Musk Ox
 Legal as 2013 for Reindeer

Currently there is a study being undertaken on the possibility to allow Bowhunting for small game in some provinces.

Need hunter education.



Legalised, 1993 all game. In the case of big game (Reddeer, Roedeer, Fallowdeer, Moufflon, Wildboar) the minimum draw weight is 222,7 N (50#) and an arrow with hunting point, i.e. broad-head is required.
The use of crossbow for hunting purposes is not allowed.

For Hungarian Bowhunters additional to the general hunting state exam (which is required for each Hungarian sporthunter) specific bowhunting exam is required. This exam covers theoretical knowledge and practical skills (target shooting with a required minimum score). In general bowhunters are under the same hunting regulations as gun-hunters with some small privileges (as an example, the bowhunter is allowed to shoot at a sitting/standing hare also, however generally only the running hare is a legal target). In Hungary more than 600 bowhunters have passed the specific bowhunting state exam (2006).



All regions except three allow bowhunting. Although in one of the three, Emilia Romagna, a public subscription has been accepted by the local government to cancel this law.
Hunting big game is in most regions ruled by special "selection criteria’s" and the bow is in most cases a non contemplated hunting weapon. Exception to this are Tuscany and Lombardia, where hunting with bow and arrow is allowed for Wild Boar.
It is possible to hunt small game all over Italy. 

It is also legal to hunt in fenced preserve (wild boar and Fallow deer mainly).
NBEF Italy, are keeping up with courses and information, and we can honestly say acceptance is increasing. 



Possible for all game, First nation in Europe to legalise hunting with bow and arrow in 1986. To bowhunt in Portugal you must have passed the International Bowhunter Education 



Presently not legal, currently under evaluation!



Belgian Bowhunters Association is presently working on a change in the system in the Wallon part of Belgium. 




Allowed at some private and fenced grounds.



Legal as of 3rd of April 2009 in enclosures.



Allowed at some private and fenced grounds.



Allowed at smaller fenced in grounds.-in reality: Hunting with bow and arrow is prohibited in free nature and in hunting game enclosures (these are enclosure’s that are over 200 ha large). Hunting in enclosures between 30 and 200 ha large is not defined and thus bowhunting in such enclosures is possible.





It has been possible since 1985, and all game can be hunted. Minimum 50 pound of pull, no barbed points. In two spanish provinces, Alaba and Guipuzcoa, bowhunters need the T2 bow hunter educational RSHF´s certification card.  






Possible to bowhunt.



This independent community is located in the Baltic Sea. A change of the current hunting regulations have been approved by with government, this has led to the implementation of hunting with bow in 2006.

Regulations as of 2006 08 01: The hunter must have a International Bowhunter Education or an equivalent education. An Alandic proficiency test is required on a yearly basis. This test consists of a short round with six animal targets at varying distances up to 25 meters, where five of the six have to be hit in the vital area/lungs-heart.

The arrow must possess a minimum energy of 40 joule (29,5 Ft/lbs.), the arrow must weigh at least 25 grams, the hunting point must have at least two cutting edges with a minimum diameter of 25 mm.

All game except moose can be harvested by bow and arrow.




South Africa,

Updated 2007, Legal for all game except elephant, rhino, crocodile and large predators. This was the first country to regulate the kinetic energy of the arrow in relation to the hunted game species.


Category 1.           25 ft/lbs-34 Joule

Smallgame up to and including Blesbocks (i.e. weights -60kg) including Nyala female but not the male, warthog or predators larger than black backed jackal.


Category 2.           40 ft/Lbs-54 Joule              

Medium game including Kudu, warthog, bushpig, and all predators (i.e. weights -200kg) except lion, leopard, crocodile gemsbok and sable antelope.


Category 3.           65ft/Lbs-88 Joule               

Larger game including eland antelope, lion**, leopard**, crocodile**, gemsbok and sable antelope.

(I.e. weights -800 kg) Not including Buffalo!


Category 4            87 ft/Lbs-109 Joule            

Buffalo and Giraffe (i.e. weights 600-2000 kg)


Category 5            105 ft/Lbs-142 Joule         

Elephant**, black and white rhinoceros** and hippo. ( i.e. weights +1500 kg)


Category 1-3 must have a point with at least Ø 25-mm cutting with.

Category 4-5 must have a point with at least Ø 28-mm cutting with and be two bladed.


**Not legal as of regulations of 2007



Namibia have recent legislation on bowhunting, all antelopes can be hunted with bow and arrow. The guide must have a special permit to accompany bowhunters. Just as RSA, Namibia have chosen the arrows kinetic energy as a rule for the various sizes of game.




Small antelopes                  minimum: 25 ft/Lbs           33.9 Joules            ex BlesbockSmall antelopes                          minimum: 25 ft/Lbs           33.9 Joules          

Midsize antelope’s               minimum: 40 ft/Lbs           54.24 Joules          ex. Kudu, Warthog 

Large antelope’s                 minimum: 60 ft/lbs             81.36 Joules      ex. Eland, gemsbok




In 1995 the first modern bow hunts allowed. Hunting with bow and arrow is only allowed on plains game.


Minimum 50FtLbs/400grain             68 Joule/26 gram


For the following game:

Bushbuck, Duiker, Reedbuck, Red Lechwe, Impala, Oribi, Wildebeest, Zebra, Tsessebe, Kudu, Sable, Hartebeest, Gemsbok





In Zimbabwe bowhunting been legal with special regulation since 1989. The legislation has recently been changed and from 1999 according to Park and Wildlife General Amendment Regulation no 3 i.e. bowhunting is allowed on “Alienated land” i.e. private and federal land excluding the concessions bordering the Zambezi or other areas were a concession is in effect.

Category B-D including lion and leopard       Least pull is 25 kg or 55 pound

Larger antelope                    Minimum pull 35 Kg or 77 pound min arrow weight 40 grams

Giraff and Eland                   Minimum pull 35 Kg or 77 pound min arrow weight 45 grams

Crocodile, buffalo, hippo and rhino cannot be hunted with bow and arrow.





Burkina Faso






Central African Republic







Legalized for all game as of 2003



Legalized as of 2005 for all game.

Note bow hunters pay a government hunting fee of  US $ 200.00/day


North America


Legal for all legal game in all states.

Most states have stipulated a minimum draw weight or minimum peak weight during the draw of the bow. This

Varies from 30 to 45 pounds for white-tailed deer, some states require minimum 50# bow pull for Wapiti and

Moose. Most states also have a minimum width of the two bladed broadhead to be 7/8” approximately 22 mm.

A few states have put the limit at the cast of the arrow has to exceed a minimum distance i.e. 140 yards or more.


Legal for all legal game in all provinces.

Varies from 30 to 45 pounds for white-tailed deer, some provinces require minimum 50# bow pull for Wapiti,bear and Moose. Most provinces also have a minimum width of the two bladed broad head to be 7/8” approximately 22 mm and a regulation against barbed heads.


Hunting with bow & arrow is legal for all legal game.

South America  

Most countries allow hunting with the Bow and arrow.



Hunting with bow & arrow is legal for all legal game.

New Zealand

Hunting with bow & arrow is legal for all legal game.

New Guinea



Possible with special permit, bow is considered a weapon and therefore may not be brought into Russia with out a license.


Legal as of 2013


Any modern compound pulling 70# at 30” will produce in the vicinity of 90 Joules energy in the arrow.               260ft/s-30 gram arrow

A modern recurve pulling 70# at 30” will produce 65 Joules of arrow energy.                                                       200ft/s-35 gram arrow


A modern longbow pulling 70# at 30” will produce 59 Joules of arrow energy.                                                      190ft/s-35 gram arrow