Archery is one of the oldest and also the safest sports. This is not a joke because archery safety guidelines guarantee the safety of everyone involved. As a matter of fact, the injuries in other sports like basketball, American football, and cycling are so much higher.
Following the right safety guidelines is essential regardless of your level of experience. Before practicing archery, you should get familiar with these safety rules, so you can enjoy your game to the maximum.
Learn About Your Bow
Before learning about the right safety guides, you should get yourself familiar with the most essential tool to every archer; the bow. Understanding every part of your bow will help you use it properly.
Types of Bows
The main 2 types of bows are recurve and compound bows. There are other types of bows, which are generally used by more experienced users. These include crossbows, composite bows, and longbows.
Recurve bows are the ones you see at the Olympics and are mainly used for target shooting. However, some users might choose to use them for bow hunting.
Compound bows are a little bit more complicated. They can be used for target shooting, competition shooting, and bowhunting. They’re able to shoot with high accuracy.
Parts of the Bow
Recurve bows are very simple in construction. The bow features a handle or a riser, an upper limb, and a lower limb that connects to the bowstring.
Compound bows feature a series of cams or wheels that connect to the bowstring. They’re part of a unique lever system that works to multiply or compound the force to shoot with greater accuracy. This system is made of several cables and pulleys that work together.
The riser or handle is what you hold when you shoot the arrow. On the riser, you can find the arrow rest where you put the arrow before shooting. Recurve bows have an elevated rest, while compound bows usually have a containment rest.
Limbs are attached to the riser, and the upper limb is connected to the lower limb using the bowstring. If you have a recurve bow, you can replace older limbs with newer ones.
The bowstring connects the upper and lower limb. The nock point on the bowstring is where you place the end of the arrow.
Adjusting the sight allows you to aim accurately at your target. The sight is attached to the riser and can be detached when you need an upgrade.
Parts of the Arrow
An arrow has 4 parts.
The shaft is the long spine of the arrow. Shafts are made of several types of materials, including carbon, wood, fiberglass, or aluminum. Each material has some specific features that make it more appealing to different archers.
Matching the weight and stiffness of the arrow to your bow is crucial to guarantee a successful shot. When the arrow is released from the bow, it bends then straightens while it flies to hit the target. The incorrect stiffness will cause the arrow to straighten at the wrong timing, so it won’t result in an accurate shot.
The feathers or plastic vanes on the arrow create wind drag to guarantee the accuracy of your shot as you aim towards the target. The fletching is made of 3 or more feathers.
One of them would be of a different color and will be called the “cock” feather, and the others will be called the “hen” feathers. They’re designed to provide stability and accuracy as the arrow is flying in the air.
There are different types of heads, and each of them has several benefits. Each arrow can be fitted with different kinds of arrowheads or points, depending on the purpose.
A bullet point is used for small game hunting and target shooting. Bullet and field points can be shot in foam or grass-type targets for practice.
Grabbing or Judo arrowheads are excellent for practicing. They can be used in stimulated targeting and can be shot at various types of targets. Each point has protruding wire heads or spring arms to help locate the arrow after it has been shot. They will catch in grass and leaves and can be used in small game hunting as well as stump shooting.
A blunt point can be made of hard plastic, rubber, or steel, and are flat instead of pointed. You can use these arrows to shoot at smaller animals like rabbits, squirrels, and grouse. The tip is flared out to deliver more shock to the body of the target.
Fish points are designed to secure fish until they’re landed with an attached line. The arrowhead is usually long and barbed or spring-loaded to penetrate through the rough scales of the fish. The barbs can be later retracted to enable you to retrieve the arrowhead from the body of the fish.
This is the plastic tip that secures the arrow in place. There’s a special point in the bowstring called the nocking point where you should nock the arrow. You can move this point up and down for fine-tuning.
Dry Firing: Everything You Need to Know
Dry firing is a situation that you should avoid because it can be hazardous. This is when the archer fires a bow without an arrow nocked on the bowstring. This action can injure the archer and damage the bow.
Although shooting arrows isn’t that complicated, the physics behind them is. When you launch an arrow, you use your muscles to draw the bowstring. The force used depends on the draw weight.
When you release the bowstring, the limbs are released, and the stored force is converted into energy that prompts the arrow to fly towards the target. If there’s no arrow to absorb this energy, the energy will go back to the body of the bow.
The bow isn’t designed to receive this kind of force. The cams and pulleys will absorb the shock waves and can be broken. You will feel the shock in the bow, and there might be flying parts that can injure the archer.
For the archer, this can cause a serious potential injury. The trapped force might cause pain due to bruising because of the released force. Since the bowstring is relatively close to the eyes, the string might accidentally snap and hurt or even blind an eye.
Dry firing a compound arrow is more dangerous than doing this with a recurve bow because there are more parts involved. Regardless of the type of arrow, the higher the draw weight, the more damage you’re likely to experience when you dry fire.
If you have dry fired a bow, make sure not to use it before it’s been inspected by a professional. A bow might look good, but it can break the next time you’re using it.
Archery Safety Guidelines
These safety guidelines are mandatory to follow, whether you’re a beginner or an avid archer. They’re set to help you stay safe while firing the arrow and will also protect other people around you.
- Shooting in residential areas should be discouraged, even for experienced archers.
- Alcohol and drugs shouldn’t be consumed by archers before or during shooting. No one should ever fire an arrow under the influence as they can subject themselves and others to danger.
- Choosing the right uniform is of great importance. Armguards and tight-fitting clothes are recommended. If you’re firing your arrows among other archers, you should consider wearing chest protectors.
- Don’t wear any jewelry, and take off your watch before aiming the arrow.
- Before drawing back the bow, make sure that it is properly fitted and pointed towards the target.
- Never aim the bow, whether it’s loaded or not, towards any other person.
- Running is discouraged, especially when you’re holding arrows. You should walk actively, especially when you have arrows in your hand.
- If there are other archers on the field, make sure that you’re crossing behind as they are standing at the shooting line. You shouldn’t ask any other archer to stop shooting, so you can cross right in front of them.
- Make sure that you’re not disturbing other archers as they’re practicing. You shouldn’t bother them or poke them with different parts of the arrow.
- Always inspect the arrow and bow before attempting to shoot. Using a bow with damaged or broken parts is extremely dangerous. Frayed strings, damaged limbs, broken risers, and damaged nocks should be inspected and replaced.
- Avoid dry firing a bow as it can damage your bow and cause hazardous injuries.
- Wax the bowstring regularly to make sure that your shots are accurate. It’s recommended that you wax the string every 100 shots.
- If you’re practicing, listen to the instructions of the Director of Shooting or Field Captain. This person’s job is to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
- When it’s time to pull the arrow out of the target, make sure that no one is standing in front of you. Always stand to the side of the butt while removing the arrow out of the body of the target.
- Don’t try to remove the arrow from the target towards your face, as this can cause serious injuries.
- Always use two hands while removing arrows from the body of the target for maximum safety.
- Don’t shoot into the air. You don’t know where the arrow will land, as this can be extremely dangerous to other people around you.
- Avoid aiming your bow and arrow towards anything that you don’t want to shoot.
- Don’t draw your arrow if there are other people between you and the target, even if you don’t intend to shoot.
- Avoid over-drawing your recurve bow, as it can cause serious injuries.
- When firing at an open range, make sure that there’s a safety aid kid nearby, so everyone can have access to medical help when needed.
- Don’t attempt to retrieve anything if you accidentally drop it in front of the shooting line, even if you can reach it unless the instructor or Field Captain has given the orders to stop shooting.
- Always use matching arrows. Mismatched arrows will not fly accurately and will most likely miss the target.
How to String a Recurve Bow Safely
Removing the bowstring extends the life of the bow and string, so you can use them for longer. You should also remove the bowstring if you’re planning to store your bow for a while. Stringing is an essential skill that can be learned by any archer.
- You need to use a stringer. A bow stringer is a device that you can use to remove the string safely. You can find several bow stringers on the market, but you need to choose one that has been specifically designed to match your bow’s length and draw weight.
- Install the limbs of the recurve bow according to the instructions of the manufacturer. Find the top string loop and slide it down the top limb.
- Locate the string grooves and place the bottom loop and string into the grooves on the bottom limb.
- Start with the top limb and place the saddle just behind the loop. Then, put the pouch end over the tip of the bottom limb.
- Use both feet to step onto the bow stringer with both feet and hold the bow to flex the limbs. Bend at the waist until the stringer touches the ground.
- Remove the stringer and turn the bow, so the limbs are facing away from you. This is a precautionary measure because if the string slips off, the limbs will be away from you.
Basic Maintenance Tips
Before using the recurve bow, you should make sure that it’s safe and ready for use. Here are some basic maintenance tips.
- Always inspect every single part of the bow before aiming at your target.
- Make sure that there are no cracks in the grip.
- Inspect the part where the riser meets the limb because it’s subject to a lot of pressure.
- Make sure that all the accessories are attached properly.
- Replace the bowstring if some parts look frayed.
- Wax the bowstring often. Some archers prefer to wax it after every session, but that would be a bit too much. Waxing it every few sessions is enough.
- Make sure that all the parts are clean before storing the bow away.
- Keep the bow in a case or hang it somewhere where it will be kept safe.
Practicing archery is all about discipline and sticking to the rules. Following the archery safety guidelines guarantees the safety of the archer and everyone around.
Understanding the composition of your bow and arrow will help you keep them in excellent condition. Regular inspection and maintenance provide you with the best experience as you aim accurately towards the target.