Safety Rules Of Archery That Will Save A Life

Here is a real-life archery injury I heard about a few days ago. It’s actually what prompted me to create this detailed article on the safety rules of archery.

At a homemade archery range, a 17-year-old boy was shot in his left eye during target practice. He and his friend were unsupervised and taking turns shooting at a target. Unfortunately, it was windy, and the target kept falling over, so one of the boys went to hold it in his hand away from his face as his friend took his turn shooting it.

Well, as you may have guessed, his friend missed the target, and the steel-tipped arrow struck him in his eye. The young man is lucky the arrow didn’t penetrate his skull, but he lost his eye.

While this may sound like a totally unavoidable archery calamity, you’d be surprised by the number of similar archery-related injuries requiring emergency room care that happen in the United States alone.

I’m not trying to be the voice of doom and gloom and scare you from this beautiful sport and activity. I’m just trying to highlight that archery safety is a vital subject that all new archers must matter. After all, “a good archer” doesn’t simply refer to those technically proficient at the activity.

A good archer is one who is polite, observes the rules, and shoots in a responsible, safe manner.

Safety Rules of Archery

So, you want to help keep archery a safe activity? Here are the safety rules of archery you should observe in both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. Most of these may seem inconsequential, but trust me, they could save your life at a shooting range one day.

1. What’s That You Have On?

While not always considered, ensuring that all archery participants available are properly dressed for the activity is essential. No one should wear anything that could easily get tangled in the bow during releases— no jewellery, hoods, scarves, or anything excessively loose.

Why is this safety rule of archery essential? Well, there have been thousands of cases of earrings, bracelets, and necklaces getting caught in fired arrows and causing serious injuries.

2. Did You Do Your Due Diligence?

Better safe than sorry, right? Before taking the first shot, every participant should do an equipment check for both arrows and bows. Your nock, shaft, and arrow should be checked using a fine-tooth comb. Remember, damaged arrows could easily shatter when released and, in turn, send someone to the emergency room.

A tip I use myself is slightly bending the arrow to ensure it’s still in its tip-top condition. Inspect all components of the arrow for any signs of damage like warping, fraying, chips, cracks, and any other wear and tear that may have compromised their integrity.

Related: Are Terriers Great Hunting Dogs?

3. Unspoken Preparation Rules?

Did you know that steel-tipped arrows can travel hundreds of meters? That’s why shooting arrows in the air is highly frowned upon. As for arrows with suction tips, they don’t fly nearly as far, making them perfect partners for children and total beginners still learning about the safety rules of archery. Both of these groups should only shoot under the supervision of an adult.

What’s more? Every shooter should stand approx. 3 to 10 meters away from the shooting target. The target in question should be set up in clear spaces, and one should never use animals or people as targets.

4. Safely Firing The Arrows

To ensure everyone’s safety, all archers must load, aim, and shoot their arrows simultaneously. This is the same system most archery ranges use to control shooting and retrieving. It ensures no one accidentally shoots while someone is still inside the range retrieving their arrows.

To make things easier, employ a whistles system to signify the appropriate action. A single whistle blow can mean it’s time to load the arrow and approach the shooting line. Two can mean everyone can approach the shooting line. Three can mean everyone can shoot their arrows. Four can mean everyone can go and retrieve the arrows they shot.

Another safety rule of archery is to never load your arrows onto your bow with someone in front of you. Also, never stand in front of anyone with their arrows loaded.

5. Retrieving The Arrows

Archers should only move in to retrieve their arrows once they’re signaled it’s time to. Often when archers misfire their arrows, and they don’t go very far, they’re tempted to quickly retrieve them so they can fire again. In these instances, it’s essential to reiterate the safety rules of archery and discourage that behavior vehemently.

What’s more? Once archers are done retrieving their arrows, confirm that all participants have returned to the shooting line and the range is clear before signaling it’s okay to shoot again. Actually, pay special attention to participants whose arrows went beyond the target. These tend to be the ones overlooked before the shooting signal is given.

Archery Range Safety Rules

safety rules of archery
Photo Credit: Unsplash.

Now that you know the safety rules of archery that individuals should observe, let’s take a brief look at the general safety rules one should observe when designing an archery range.

1. Archery Backdrops

Archery ranges should be equipped with backstops to prevent out-of-control arrows from going too far beyond their intended targets. This archery safety rule is essential for two reasons. First, it protects anyone who accidentally wanders into the range’s vicinity.

These backstops also make it much easier to collect and find fired arrows. As noted earlier, most archery injuries occur when participants spend too much time behind targets trying to find their arrows.

2. Security

Another safety rule of archery that every range should address is security. A great example is ensuring that all arrows and bows are locked away in secure locations when not in use. Why? Well, less mature archers might be tempted to partake in unsupervised shooting activities, which, as we saw in the beginning, could be the perfect recipe for disaster.

3. Buffer Zones

Due to the hazards that archery poses as a sport and activity, every range should be in secluded areas. These are areas where the chances of individuals accidentally roaming into the range amidst shots are minimal.

As a general rule, publicly accessible areas like trails or walkways should be at least 150 yards away from all different trajectories of arrows. In the rare cases when a range offers bows that shoot more than 150 yards, increase the buffer zone accordingly.

Bonus Safety Rules Of Archery

As a bonus, here are some practical safety tips that could come in handy one day:

  • Do you own an arm guard? It’s an essential accessory for stopping the arrow and bowstring from rubbing your arm
  • Remember to store your equipment in cool, dry places, so their integrity isn’t compromised
  • When pulling arrows from the target, ensure no one is standing behind you
  • Only shoot the target directly in front of you
  • Keep arrows inside the quiver until you’re ready to shoot
  • Always walk, don’t run on the range
  • Shoot as many arrows as everyone around to minimize wait times between shoot and retrieve sessions
  • Keep arrows either pointed down or at the target
  • If one of your arrows goes behind the target, ensure your instructor is aware before going for the retrieve
  • Never visit an archery range if they don’t have a first-aid kit
  • Finish every shooting session by un-stringing your re-curve bow
  • Wax your bow string after every 100 arrows shot
  • Ensure your cellphone is charged so you can call for help if need be
  • Never over-draw your re-curve bow. This refers to when you pull the bowstring further than the arrow’s actual length. It can be fatal

24 thoughts on “Safety Rules Of Archery That Will Save A Life”

  1. Wow, that’s crazy the boy got shot in the eye! Totally lucky he didn’t die. Archery is far more dangerous than many people do realize! Awesome safety tips here that everyone should read before taking up archery.

  2. Wow! Those are a lot of rules to have to keep in your mind. Hopefully, instructors make them part of the training and don’t let anyone loose on the range until they are sure their students know them all.

  3. I love archery. I admit I only really have ever shot a bow and arrow 2or 3 times in my life but I am fairly good at it! It does take a lot of skill and yes safety is of utmost importance. Just like a loaded gun- a bow and arrow can become deadly weapons. My father always stressed safety around weapons (this also included driving a vehicle safely- because it too can become a deadly weapon). Then when I went into the ARMY the ongoing joke was that we couldn’t go to the latrine without a safety briefing! So I commend you on bringing safety lessons (LEARNED here- FYI! to our attention) from the mention of the wind effects, Buffer Zones, charged cellphones to call for emergencies, to never overdrawing a recurved bow. WOW! How important all these things are- THANK YOU and I hope your message gets across to anyone venturing out for an day of archery! Can I add to never use a bow and arrow when tired, and always be well rested (I mention this because my day has been long and I am falling asleep)? LOL!

  4. Very helpful tips on the safety rules of archery. You really offer crucial and valuable information to adhere too. I’ve only tried archery once but it was in a controlled environment with instructors.

  5. My boys have done archery with Cub Scouts and they go over all the safety information first. We have to ask permission to enter the range, they have to have the correct clothing on, they are taught how to hold and use the equipment, and no one is allowed down range except the range masters. It sounds like an outside chance of injury, but it can be serious!

  6. What an incredibly useful article! I’ve actually never done this activity…..maybe one day, and I promise you, I’ll be safe!

  7. Great list! I am not an archer but my partner is. He used to do it as sport when he was a teenager and still like taking a bow several times a month. I tag along quite often so I have to admit I might be already an enthusiast. All the rules are what we always repeats and makes sure I know.

  8. Safety is so important for any sport or activity! An archery camp has recently opened up near us and my son has expressed interest. I’ll be sure to go over these safety guidelines with him.

  9. It is an exciting post. I have two sons under two, and I don’t know which sport they will choose. It seems we can get trauma in every sport. Safety is critical! Also, reading your article, I remembered the movie Lets Talk about Kevin and the archery experience there.

  10. Every beginner archer like me learns just how important safety is in this sport. It’s drummed into us from the day we started.

  11. Because it’s not guns, I can imagine other people thinking it won’t be too much of a risk with archery, but those pointed thingies can actually injure someone seriously. So yeah, I agree, check if everything is working properly and if the set up is good for shooting. Best be safe than sorry.

  12. It’s so great that you’re focusing on this. Archery can be a fun sport but also dangerous if you aren’t careful!

  13. I have never tried Archery before. This is one of those activities that will be added to my Life bucket list. Reading your post made me feel more confident about trying archery for the first time. It’s so important to understand the safety rules before trying any new sport or activity, and your post did an excellent job of explaining everything in a way that was easy to understand.

  14. Oh my goodness this is terrifying! My boys are 5 and 2, but this will be helpful to remind me to keep safety a priority. Thanks for the tips!


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