Archery is consistently listed as a safe, low-injury sport, and it offers exciting competition for all skill levels. Whatever your age or ability, you can participate with full confidence in your safety.
Yes, archery has deep roots in hunting and historical battles, but it’s in a league of its own as a safe target sport.
The Archery Trade Association’s Archery Safety Brochure lists archery’s 2017 injury rate as .057 injuries per 1,000 participants. The only sports with slightly safer rates are bowling, badminton and table tennis.
The insurance industry assigns archery participants a 4.4% average chance of injury. That assessment, however, is based on worst-case scenarios that only account for participants who aren’t considered physically fit. Even then, fishing was the only sport safer than archery.
Jeff Greer, co-owner of Music City Archery in Franklin, Tennessee, said beginning archers are mostly concerned about hurting their forearm with the bowstring, but that doesn’t deter them.
“Most who end up with a bruise make light of it,” Greer said. “We’re very aware of the archers, and we address form issues if they’re hitting their arm.” As long as archers wear an arm guard and use proper form, forearm injuries are few and minor.
Meanwhile, archery engages muscles your body might seldom use, so you should expect some soreness. “Most see it as another form of exercise,” Greer said.
That means you should expect some fatigue, but it will lessen the longer you maintain your practice regimen. Most archers naturally find that line between stretching muscles and tearing them. A coach or shop technician can help you avoid muscle injuries if you’re concerned.
Archery injuries most often involve the rotator cuff or a labral tear in the shoulder. You can avoid both by shooting with good form and correct draw weight. You can determine your optimum draw weight through trial and error, but don’t push yourself to hit a certain weight. If you struggle to pull 35 pounds, don’t force it and risk a muscle tear. Try a lower draw weight, and build your muscles slowly while fine-tuning your form and techniques. You’ll eventually pull higher draw weights.
Some parents attending lessons hosted by Kinetic Kids worried about how much weight their child could draw, and whether they’d get overly sore muscles. Finding the right draw weight is easier than ever, given that many bows can be reduced to 10-pound draws.
Parents should stay within earshot during their child’s first lesson to learn safety precautions and basic techniques. They can then encourage proper practice at home and other ranges. Most ranges ensure continued supervision by matching instructor numbers to class sizes.
Archery safety is easily ensured. If you practice good form, keep your arrows pointed away from people, and don’t walk onto the range while others are shooting, you’ll be OK.
Another precaution is to avoid dry-firing your bow, which means releasing the bowstring at full draw without an arrow. If that happens, energy stored in the bow’s limbs to propel the arrow releases forcefully back into the bow.
It’s OK to pull the bowstring to full draw, but you must slowly let it back down to relieve pressure on the bowstring. Dry-firing a recurve bow can damage its limbs, and dry-firing a compound bow can snap its bowstring, which could cause injury. Also, the heavier the draw weight, the greater the risk of injury or damage.
If you’re concerned about hurting others with stray shots or rogue arrows, realize that most archery ranges are designed to maximize safety and minimize the potential for injuries. If you shoot above or below the targets, the arrow might stick in the wall or bounce back, but it won’t injure anyone.
“We have a wall of targets 8 feet tall and 18 lanes wide,” Greer said. “We’ve had random arrows bounce back toward the shooting line, but they fell short. No one has been scared to shoot as a result.”
By following general safety rules and practicing good form and follow-throughs, you’ll eliminate almost all risk of archery injuries. Stop by your local range to schedule your first lesson.