The Consumer Products Safety Commission rates archery as the sixth safest sporting activity, behind jogging and just ahead of tennis. On average there are only 78 injuries per 100,000 participants, and most of those injuries are caused by archers who fail to follow basic arrow safety protocols. Whether you plan to go to the range to shoot, or you’re gearing up for a hunting trip, take the time to go over your equipment so you can ensure a safe environment for yourself and those around you.
Here are 6 arrow safety guidelines to follow on your next hunt.
1. Inspect The String
Archery safety starts with the string. Any damage or fraying of the string is a potential hazard and should be addressed before nocking any arrows. In addition, check your peep sight for its usual alignment. Rotation of this sight is a sign that your string is coming loose and you need to adjust your tension.
2. Measure The Arrows
Proper arrow length is necessary to prevent arrows from slipping out of the rest or hanging on the bow frame as you fire. Each shaft needs to extend at least a full inch beyond your rest when nocked and ready to fire. Even though the arrow might have been the correct length when you bought it, slack in the bow string, and flexing of the bow itself, will cause the required length of your arrows to change slightly over time. If you find that your arrows are slightly too short, adjust the draw length until you hit the safe zone or drop the stop peg to shorten your draw.
3. Inspect The Arrows
When you shoot, your arrows, bow, and string are under tremendous tension to where even the smallest defects can have catastrophic consequences. This is especially true if when you practice target shooting at the range. Repeatedly hitting a hard target, coupled with incidental contact with other arrow shafts, weaken the integrity of your arrows over time. To avoid potential injury, perform a thorough flex test on every arrow you plan to fire. First, run a finger along the shaft and toss the arrow if you discover any noticeable dents or dings. Then firmly grab both ends of the arrow and bend it gently away from your body. This will expose any cracks that you missed. Listen for the sound of cracking or breaking as you do the test. Repeat the flex several times as you rotate the shaft.
4. Inspect The Nocks
Just like the shaft, look for any damage to your nock. Look inside the nock to make sure that it’s clear of debris. Finally, seat the nock on the string so that it fits tight.
5. Never Dry Fire
The tension created when you draw your bowstring is transferred to the arrows upon firing. If you dry fire the bow, there is no transfer of energy, and all of the tension resonates through the bow, string, and cams. That sudden release of unexpected energy can cause substantial damage to the frame, as well as your hands and arms.
6. Watch And Listen
The most important lesson in arrow safety, especially at the range, is to keep your eyes and ears open. Slow down and double check that no one is standing behind you or about to walk into your line of fire. Listen for calls of “halt” or “stop”, which indicate that someone is about to walk onto the range.
Archery is a fun way to develop hand-eye coordination and give your upper body a good workout. As long as you comply with the basic rules, you’ll be able to reduce injury risks and enhance your experience.