If you are thinking of buying a bow to hunt or just target shoot you are getting into a very safe hobby. There are several factors when discussing the dangers of archery and bowhunting to consider. Are you getting into archery because you watched Lord of The Rings and only want to target shoot? Maybe you want to start providing your own meat naturally by bowhunting big game. Both have their own dangers and rewards.
I will explain the dangers of both scenarios below to give you an idea of how safe it actually is to learn to shoot a bow.
Is Archery dangerous
According to the stats from the national Safety Council archery ranges are safer than golf courses. For every 2000 people who attend an archery range only 1 will have an injury. Most of these injuries are extremely minor and usually involve slapping the forearm with their bow string. This injury can be prevented by learning proper technique.
Injuries from being struck by an arrow are statistically zero at archery ranges. This only occurs when someone sets up a backyard range without adequate backstops. So if you want to save money by building your own range and shooting at home make sure you know your target and what is behind it. Some cities have laws prohibiting archery in yards, parks, or other public places that are not specifically designated as archery ranges. Before you make your own range do some research on the laws in your area.
Is Bowhunting Dangerous
Most common injury
Looking at stats from the National Safety Council 94% of ALL archery injuries come from hunters cutting themselves on razor sharp broadheads. Most archery ranges prohibit the use of broadheads for target practice. You will be required to use them if you want to hunt big game. Safely handling an arrow equipped with a broadhead is just like handling a sharp kitchen knife. Keep the blades away from your hands and body and you will be fine.
Most serious injury
While the most common injury reported by bowhunters are cuts those are not the most serious. According to a 2005-2006 study in Georgia 54% of hunting accidents reported that year (28) were tree stand related. 2 of these injuries resulted in fatalities. There have been surveys of deer hunters finding that over a third had fallen from a tree stand sometime in their life. About 3% of these resulted in a serious injury.
Tree stand harnesses
There is a major push by state agencies to have hunters utilize a safety harness. If you plan on bowhunting and want to make absolutely sure you’re as safe as possible you should purchase one. While not all states require it by law, it is your responsibility to be as safe as possible to prevent your own injuries. Some even have a guide that runs up and down your ladder so you are protected while climbing up and down as well.
Overall safety of Archery
In 2017 12.4 million people participated in archery. This includes everything from youth programs to big game hunters. The number of fatalities compared to the number of participants is extremely low. Over 90% of the tree stand falls reported are by hunters over the age of 50. Slower reflexes and age seems to play a key role in those incidents.
If you are considering getting yourself or a child involved in an archery program rest assured they are extremely safe. With programs such as JOAD (Junior Olympic Archer Developement) there are options to keep your child supervised by professionals as well as learn top notch archery techniques.