Life Saving Archery Safety Rules

Learning archery safety rules will keep you from harm’s way. Here you will discover common archery injuries, the injuries other sports experience, how they compare to archery and the innocent mistake that can end up disastrous.

Safe Archery GamesIt may surprise you to learn that archery is one of the safest sports, in fact more injuries occur to those who engage in sports like squash, baseball, tennis and even football. 

And many more…

Unlike these types of sports, much more scrutiny surrounds archery safety when beginners first kick off.

Every beginner archer learns just how important safety is in this sport. It’s drummed into them from the day they start.

In North America and Europe archery, against all other sports, is considered the safest. 

History confirms that through the centuries archery, and accidents around archery, are much lower than any other sport.

To put it another way, If your son has the choice between golf or archery – the latter is the safest option by far and… he can continue to score bullseyes until his final breath.

What do you think it is that makes makes archery safer?

We archers are clever, aware and have the drive to practice for many hours so we become more proficient.

Those of us who are successful archers are generally well organized and considerate of others. We consider the risks and at every opportunity, strive to prevent them from materializing. 

It’s actually the archer’s contribution which results in archery being so safe.

It does not matter where you are or what you’re doing, practising on the range, or competing accidents do occur, but not many.

Perhaps consider doing an archery safety course.

Actual Archery Injury Statistics

It’s actually quite difficult to find any data around archery incidents that resulted in death or for that matter, any information around archery safety at all.

This seemingly lack of knowledge is not a result of negligence or apathy, it’s simply that this pastime is not the source of many injuries so the information cannot be easily found simply because it’s not there!

This rather unique safety record would be the envy of any sporting code, it’s largely due to the character of those involved in archery as well as the respect they have for their fellow archers.

Generally, archers practice regularly in order to keep improving their skill and as a result, safety plays a big part in their training schedule.

The injury rate of archers (over 6 years old) is a paltry 4.4 per 10,000, this most certainly contravenes the general opinion of archery being unsafe.

The majority of these injuries are the result of hunting where the archers cut themselves on sharp broadarrows.


The undeniable data confirms beyond doubt that recreational archery is not a dangerous sport, to the contrary, it’s actually a much safer pastime than a host of other favored sports such as soccer, tennis, football. surfing, golfing, etc.

These sports are renowned for bumps, concussions, nocks and broken bones and even death.

Archery Injuries Vs Other Sports

These statistics show how many more injuries are recorded for sports other than archery…

  • Basketball – 89 times more.
  • Football – 65 times more.
  • Baseball – 35 times more.
  • Fishing – 14 times more.
  • Volleyball – 11 times more.
  • Golf – 10 times more.
  • Hockey – 8 times more.

These majority of these sports are team sports where it’s expected that there will be more injuries.

Would you believe that, in 2019, there were 25,000 medical incidents involving people going to the beach, enjoying a picnic or camping out.

Those who are involved in archery in one way or another rate it as a safe activity. This opinion is shared by insurance companies simply because the injury rate of less than 1 person in a 1,000 active archers are actually injured.

This number has not varied for many, many years. Data tells us that you are more likely to be injured going to the beach than practicing archery.

Weird but true!!

Is Archery Dangerous?

Is archery dangerous… the first thing that flashes across my mind is being hit in the eye by a wayward arrow.

However, in reality this is an extremely rare event.

When considering archery as a sport and thinking about potential injuries and the terrible injuries we all hear about that happen in other sports, most would say that archery is not dangerous.


Read on ~

  • Put simply, archers generally don’t aim at other archers whereas hunters are at greater risk because they may unknowingly aim at another hunter. That said, hunting injuries are relatively uncommon with the majority being hunters cutting themselves by carelessly handling arrows, tripping and falling.
  • When on a range there will more than likely be an archery range safety officer who has the responsibility of enforcing safety by keeping archers away from the firing line, any injuries that do happen are usually in a home made range in the back garden.
  • A bow is generally not a common choice for a murder weapon, I know I haven’t used one for this purpose!
  • The number of fans injured at archery competitions or during practice is next to none. Archers are taught from day one to be very mindful of where their bow is pointing.

Following are the most common injuries that you’re likely to experience when doing archery ~

  • Cutting your fingers on an arrowhead while handling your arrows, broadhead arrows are the most common culprits and may be why they’re generally banned from archery ranges.
  • Shoulder injuries.
  • Archer’s elbow (tendonitis).
  • Forearm or chest bruising from a string slap.
  • Muscle ache.
  • Finger blistering from the bowstring.
  • Splinter injuries from a dry fired bow.
  • Tripping and falling while on the hunt.
  • Repetitive strain injuries.

And now, the BIG one…

What Happens if You Dry Fire a Bow… Be Very Afraid!

Firing a bow without an arrow is fraught with danger and it should never be done. Here’s what can happen if you dry fire a bow.

That is, you pull back the string until it’s fully drawn as you normally would, then release without an arrow.

That sounds fairly innocuous don’t you think… but it most certainly is not, releasing without an arrow can result in all sorts of problems.

A normal shooting cycle goes like this ~

When you nock your arrow and draw the string all the way back until it’s fully drawn, the limbs of your bow are storing a significant amount of energy generated by your bow.

The limbs are straining like mad trying to get back to where they were and when you release, it’s the limbs job to propel the arrow, hopefully forward!

When you release the energy retained in the bow it’s conveyed to the string then the arrow, all that stored energy propels your arrow towards the target. 

However a portion of the power is retained in the bow. You may have felt the vibration at times after you have released. If you’ve ever shot an arrow and felt the bow shake, that’s the reason, however the bulk of the power is transferred to the arrow.

That’s how this relatively simple process should go but… in the situation of dry firing, things are a somewhat different.

When a bowstring is released without nocking an arrow all that accumulated power in each limb is just screaming to go somewhere and it dissipates via the limbs and the riser.

If you happen to be using a compound bow, it travels all the way through to the cams.

So much power is released that it can result in the bow cracking and basically demolishing itself, sending the pieces flying everywhere and causing serious physical injuries to archers and those close by.

Given that the bow is literally ‘in your face’ when released it’s no wonder that facial damage is a common injury in these situations.

Avoiding Nasty Dry Firing Incidents... Like the One Below!

The majority of these incidents can be avoided by being physically fit and learning how to shoot correctly.

That is, learning how to stand and embracing the correct form. This includes strengthening your body through exercise and training, having time out, and investing in good quality safety equipment.

In archery, you and you alone are are in charge of managing yourself and your bow so that you and other archers are kept safe. 

It’s of vital importance to remember that your safety, and the safety of others around you, is in your hands. Fortunately the majority of archers feel this way and safety is top of mind at all times for their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their family and friends.

Check out this incredible video and watch a COMPOUND-BOW-DISINTEGRATE!!

Ways to Keep Yourself 'Archery Safe'

When you’re on a registered archery range rules and standards will apply and it would be expected of you to conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times.

When you do, injuries on archery ranges are few and far between.

The majority of archers who have a backyard range need to ensure that safety rules and standards, based on archery safety guidelines, are adhered to at all times .

Ideally, these standards would include such things as ~

  • Falling in line with local laws and regulations and ensuring that a home practice range is actually allowed in your area.
  • Managing access to your property and making sure it’s secured to stop people from simply walking in.
  • Having a safety stop behind  the target to prevent misfired arrows causing any injury or damage. A safety stop is also referred to as an archery safety curtain or archery safety net backstop.

Much of safety is pure common sense, don’t shoot anywhere other than at the target and don’t wander down the range until you are 100% certain that everybody has stopped shooting.

Archery Safety Guidelines

They say that ‘rules are meant to be broken’, archery safety guidelines are most definitely not.

The vast majority of injuries are a result of hunting mishaps rather than practicing or target shooting. Over time, many an archer, and shooters for that matter, have mistaken a human for an animal.

Most realise that before they pull the trigger or release but on the odd occasion, they don’t!!

… Oops!

General Archery Hunting Safety Advice Includes ~

Don’t wear very light brown or buff colored clothing when hunting. White is another color that you should steer clear of.

These colours can result in the wearer resembling animals such as deer in low light or in dense forests and underbrush, stick to dark or bright colors.

Also, give some thought to your survival, the weather, local laws, etc and always pack ~

  • A suitable first aid kit, local maps, GPS, protection against the sun and over friendly bugs and protection against inclement weather.
  • Do some research so you understand the local region, don’t look for trouble by gambling with your wellbeing and safety.
  • Stick with local laws, be mindful where you are at all times so you don’t wander out of an official hunting area and carry any relevant licenses that you may need.

Bowhunting Safety Tips ~

  • Keep your equipment in tip top condition.
  • Take care when sharpening and using your broadheads, most injuries result from hunters cutting themselves on their own arrows.
  • Stay within your draw weight and length and never use a bow that’s not right for you.
  • Be sure of your target, no shooting over blind ridges and be extra careful in low light conditions.
  • Put in the practice, so you become a skilled archer that only ever takes ethical shots.

The next most significant dangers to bowhunters are the safety issues surrounding a tree stand.

Hunters falling out of trees and/or tree stands account for many of the archery related injuries each year.

  • Check the tree and the stand to confirm they’re both robust enough to support your weight.
  • Ensure the ladder is not going to slip and be particularly careful in rain and snow which may result in slippery ladder steps.
  • Make sure you wear a safety harness and are using all the points of contact.
  • Use some sort of lifting device to haul your equipment up to the stand.
  • Keep yourself ware of what’s going on while you’re up on the platform and tell a friend or family member where you are going. 

If you’re new to this sport, see if you can find someone who is more experienced and ask if they’ll come with you and perhaps share some information about this activity.

Hunter's Archery Safety Harness

An archery safety harness should be a mandatory piece of equipment when utilizing a bow hunting tree stand.

Each and every year a multitude of bow hunters have a requirement to visit their doctor or a hospital emergency department as a result of injuries involving tree stands.

Tree stands are a worthwhile investment however you should never consider utilising one without first considering a safety harness.

The majority of injuries are sustained while the archer is climbing up to or down from the stand.

Some of the injuries that bow hunters experience are serious and can include damage to the spine and skull, with some occasioning death. 

The ultimate result of injuries such as these can be life changing, not to mention expensive.

Having said all that, and the fact that most hunters are totally aware of the risk involved using a tree stand, a lot of hunters still choose to run the gauntlet and not use a safety harness. 

I guess ‘Murphy’s Law’ often comes into play in these situations… if it can happen, it will!

Modern safety harnesses are easy to use, light but strong, and not uncomfortable to wear. It only takes a minute to put one on and it won’t impact your archery at all.

Cool Archery Safety Glasses

Purchasing a good pair of archery safety glasses is a smart idea indeed.

A handful of archers do wear them, but the majority don’t. I wear them for a number of reasons because, for me, it just makes a lot of sense.

Reason #1

My general safety – Whilst I do not concern myself with arrows that may shatter or a snapped cable or bow string, you can damage your eyes in more ways than one in archery.

The nastiest issue can be dust, small particles or small pieces of a bush or tree whilst engaged in 3D archery. 

I know the majority of 3D courses are clear of these types of danger however a rogue branch could still result in injuries to your eyes.

Insects, airborne matter and the like are also issues that need to be considered and  dealt with when shooting in the great outdoors. 

Archer safety glasses can be extremely beneficial when dealing with these types of issues.

Reason #2

Varying levels of light – that is, moving in and out of situations where the light varies such as from dense undergrowth to broad daylight.

Wearing glasses with tinted lenses makes it much easier to move from daylight into a darkened area where it may be more difficult to see what you’re shooting at.

Your eyes will adjust much quicker to varying light conditions resulting in a significant reduction in eye strain.

Reason #3

Change the lenses to suit –  having a number of different lenses means I  can swap them out to suit changing light conditions. 

For example, in low light situations I find that yellow lenses are better for improving illumination and a light orange option works well in early morning by providing contrast.

Choosing best quality is the way to go. 

If you have prescription glasses from a credible supplier they should be able to provide tinted prescriptions in just about any colour.

Have a think about it and perhaps give them a try, you may find them most beneficial for your archery activities.

Safety Rules for Archery Equipment

Here’s a selection of the most important general safety rules for archery equipment.

A bow that’s done a lot of work and has ‘seen its day’ is potentially a dangerous piece of equipment.

The amount of power and energy that’s expelled when releasing an arrow is extremely high and this energy can result in the components of your bow becoming loose, bowstrings snapping and, if your bow has not been well maintained, the limbs can actually splinter and literally snap off.

Archers should check their bows for damage regularly and provide regular maintenance including ~

  • Inspect your bow prior to shooting and after shooting.
  • Keep your bowstring well lubricated by waxing it regularly.
  • On occasion seek a professional service opinion for maintenance tips.
  • Check for loosening components.
  • Store your bow in a dry, safe place after using it.

Although arrows can be reused, always check for any damage and ensure they are straight. Arrows tracking off-target are a sure sign that they’re bent, and arrows that have been damaged can result in dry firing.

Your inspection should include ~

  • Checking arrow shafts for straightness.
  • Checking the fletching for any damage.
  • The status of the nock.
  • Checking your arrows for any sign of frailness.
  • Looking at the shaft for obvious damage.
  • Ensuring the arrowhead is not loose, but firmly attached.

An Archer’s knowledge of their equipment and their willingness to keep it maintained in excellent working order is a commitment to keeping archery safe for all of us.

Critical Archery Safety Factors

Without a shadow of a doubt the most critical element in practicing archery safety is the actual archers themselves. 

There are two dominant factors that make up a safe archer and they are ~

  • Mental attitude
  • Physical fitness

Mental Attitude

Your mental attitude is responsible for your safety as an archer.

Your enthusiasm for keeping your bow in top condition, your spotlight on safe practices, and your effort in becoming an adept archer all contribute to your devotion to safe archery.

Physical Fitness

The strength of your body determines the energy in your arrows. 

If you choose not to address your fitness level you are placing yourself and those around you in compromising situations.

Practicing correct stance and style, taking the time prepare, practice and rehearse, having routine rests and working on your physical strength when you’re not involved in archery all add up to a responsible, able and safety conscious archer.

Your personal ‘archery team’ consists of you and your bow.

You need to be physically capable of efficiently using your bow and your bow needs to suit you and your style. 

Fitness plays an important role in archery along with the food you eat and what you drink. All this combined with your fitness programs, will assist you in achieving mental vigilance and increasing your physical being.

Clearly, your eyesight is important in this sport and definitely something to consider… can’t hit the target if you can’t see it!

As you get older the draw eight of your bow may become an issue in terms of it will become more difficult to draw your bow. 

The strength of your muscles is directly related to the performance of ‘your archery team’ and equally important as any other component.

Checkout our crossbow Q&A’s for some interesting facts about crossbow archery.


Statistically speaking, archery is one of the safest sports that anyone can get involved in, that includes children and the elderly.

Archer’s revered safety record is a direct result of people like you who keep themselves in good physical and mental condition, dutifully maintain their gear and have a clear understanding that safety must always be kept top of mind by each and every archer.