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Polar Bear Safety & Firearm Handling

A three-day intensive course in non-lethal polar bear safety and firearm handling. This course is designed for new and existing expedition guides, scientists, sailors, adventurers and anyone operating in polar bear habitats.


Participants will better understand safe operating procedures and practices in polar bear habitats such as Svalbard, Greenland, Canada, and the Russian Arctic. This course aims to provide the tools needed to operate safely, respectfully, and confidently in polar bear environments. 

Course Overview

  • Techniques for avoiding/ preventing polar bear encounters

  • Learning about polar bear behaviour and key drivers

  • Guest briefing & management

  • Firearm handling/ maintenance 

  • Shooting technique (stationary & moving targets)

  • Scouting polar bear terrain

  • Travelling in polar bear habitat

  • Online pre-course component

Please note: course structure may vary depending on the course you book. Some courses run with Firearm Safety & Handling followed by Non-Lethal Polar Bear Safety. Other courses run in reverse order. Content is the same for all courses.


Language: English Proficient 

Age: 18+

Previous experience: None required

Who is the course for?

Those new to the industry and seasoned guides. The course is designed for anyone looking to become more proficient and confident in operating in polar bear terrain and with firearm handling.  

Ratio practical firearm training: Maximum 1:6

Ratio non-lethal theory: Maximum 1:24

Course minimum: 10

Price: USD 1499

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Course Outline

Non-lethal Polar Bear Safety

The Non-lethal Polar Bear Safety component is delivered by world-renowned polar bear specialist, Dr Nikita Ovsyanikov. His delivery is the product of 25 years of studying polar bears. This study includes polar bear behaviour in encounters with humans and polar bear's social and hunting behaviour. Please note that Nikita will deliver his content via a live video link in the classroom. 


Segment content:

  • Avoiding and preventing terrestrial polar bear encounters

  • Avoiding and preventing the escalation of an encounter into conflict

  • Stopping aggression in extreme cases, using non-lethal techniques

  • Factors that cause conflict encounters

  • Drivers and basic features of polar bear behaviour

  • Briefing and managing guests for operations in Polar Bear habitats.  


This segment is 1 full day - approx 6 hours.

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Firearm Handling & Safety

Participants will train at a state-of-the-art indoor facility in Copenhagen with professional instructors. The shooting range utilises data projectors and infrared technology to display and track moving targets for live firing exercises. Participants receive instant visual feedback from every shot allowing for instant adjustment in technique. It is also during this segment that participants get to familiarise them selfs with a variety of weapons, including stripping and maintaining firearms for expedition operations. The focus of this is to take participants beyond minimal competency and give them the knowledge and skill to handle firearms safely, confidently and respectfully.


Firearm handling & safety -  classroom

  • Rules for firearm safety

  • Introduction to rifles used in expedition operations

  • Essential servicing/maintenance of firearms for expedition operations

  • Preparation, transportation, and storage of a firearm

The classroom session will also be 'hands-on'. Participants will strip and service a variety of firearms (calibre/models) used in expedition operations. The intention is to allow guides the ability to become familiar with a wide variety of firearms to best prepare them for field excursions from a ship or land-based operation, all done within a safe training environment. 


Cinema Range

With specialist instructors for the firearm training segment, we have the ability to customise the delivery of the course to suit a variety of experience and confidence levels.

After the classroom session, participants will move to the cinema range where they will undertake live firing with a variety of weapons.


  • Firearm safety (continued)

  • Introduction to the cinema range

  • Shooting positions

  • Shoot/ review stationary target

  • Shoot/ review moving target

  • Troubleshooting/jams

Participants will shoot with a variety of rifles, including 30-06 calibre.

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Polar Bear Scouting Theory & Operation Logistics

We'll also spend time in the classroom looking at skills like scouting and preparing landing sites for expedition operations. Covered in this are logistics and considerations for operations in polar bear habitats. 

  • Scouting from the ship (landing approach)

  • Scouting from the zodiac (beach approach)

  • Scouting ashore (do’s and don’ts)

  • Storage and transportation of firearms

  • Firearm carrying strategies

  • Procedures for land-based excursions

Online Pre-course Component

We realise that participants will have a range of experience levels and come from a variety of backgrounds. To ensure we maximise our learning during the physical component of the course, there will be an online learning component to be completed prior to the course. This will cover topics such as firearm terminology, safety and shooting positions. Please note, this is a mandatory component that must be completed prior to the course start. The EGA can not issue your training certificate without completion.  

Practical Course Information

Once you have booked

Once you have booked a spot on the Polar Bear Safety & Firearm Handling Course, you will receive a welcome letter and specific pre-course information. This will include location details, course outline, and timings. Included are also accommodation suggestions. It will not include the online-training component, which you will receive roughly one month out from the start of your course.

Certificate of Training 

On completion of the Polar Bear Safety & Firearm Handling course, you'll receive a 'Certificate of Training' from the Expedition Guide Academy outlining the course content covered. For those wishing to guide in Svalbard, you'll be able to use the EGA certificate of training to apply for a 'permit to borrow' from the Sysselmesteren in Svalbard. Please keep in mind that there must be a time-limited lender declaration between the borrower and the lender for the loan permit to be valid. This is something you will have to contact your employer to confirm. If your action or inaction compromises safety at the shooting range, the EGA will be unable to issue a certificate of training. 

Arrival and Departure

We highly recommend participants arrive the evening prior to the course at the latest and depart the morning after the final day.


Participants are responsible for organising their own accommodation. As mentioned above, more information on this will be included in the booking confirmation and practical information email you receive after booking your course with us. 


Lunch is included. More information about this will be covered in the pre-course information. There are of course vegetarian and gluten-free options. Any other food requirements we are unfortunately not able to meet, in which case we recommend bringing your own lunch.


Before booking this course you need to know that the instructors at the shooting cinema can stop your training if they think safety is being compromised. This agreement is out of the EGA's hands and in yours only. Before we start the training, you will be asked to sign a waiver, which is a "contract" between you, personally, and the shooting range. With this waiver, you also agree to participate and shoot at your own risk.  

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