Archery Protective Gear
While archery is one of the most fun activities out there that you can do, it does not come without its own dangers. Sometimes, in all the fun of archery, we tend to forget that we deal with some very dangerous equipment on a daily basis. This equipment, when used correctly, is a lot of fun to shoot and hunt with. However, when it is used incorrectly, it remains a dangerous projectile and puts not only the archer in danger, but also everyone around them.
Along with practicing basic safety guidelines, there are other things that you can do to protect yourself as an archer. It is highly recommended that you wear protective gear when you are participating in archery-related activities. Wearing protective gear can save you from severe injury at the hands of your own equipment if things go wrong.
Before getting into the specific gear that you should be wearing, it’s important to understand why this is such a big deal. To illustrate that point, we’re going to give you some statistics that paint a picture of the sport and how big it really is and how dangerous it can be if proper safety is not practiced.
Did you know?
That there are 6.8 million people involved in archery in the US every single year. There are millions of people out there with this as a hobby. With that many people involved, it’s clear that archery is a major activity and the need for standardized safety guidelines is crucial.
While there are some lifelong archers, many of these participants each year are children that are aged 6-14. This puts a greater emphasis on the need for safety as we know that millions of children pick up a bow each year. It’s crucial that we give them the proper tools and knowledge to practice archery in a safe, productive way.
Despite the efforts of organizations and instructors to properly educate archers on the need for safety, there are still thousands of archery-related injuries each year that require emergency room care. To be exact, there are about 4,300 archery injuries each year. This might seem small in comparison to the number of people that participate in archery each year, and we will concede that it’s an impressively small number. However, there’s no reason for any archery accidents to occur with the proper education and equipment.
Finally, the most common injury that occurs from archery is related to the arrow or the bowstring. Obviously, you don’t want to be injured by either of these. It is dangerous and expensive to be injured while shooting in archery. That’s why it’s a good thing that there are easy ways to avoid it by practicing safety measures and using safety equipment.
Safety Tips for Shooting
Now that you know a little bit about the problem and how archers become injured, it’s time to give you some helpful tips that you can put in action the next time that you are shooting to keep you safe and uninjured during your archery shooting session or hunting outing.
Inspect your Bow
The first thing that you should do before shooting is inspect your bow. This way, you’ll be sure that nothing is wrong with your equipment prior to shooting that could cause you or someone else harm. Before you even nock your first arrow, you should give your equipment a thorough inspection. Check all the parts of the bow and the arrow for any damage or anything out of place. Some common signs are cracks, chips, fraying, warping, and other wear and tear that could make your equipment dangerous to use.
Fire the Bow Safely
Once you have inspected your equipment, you’re ready to start firing your bow. There are a number of safety guidelines to follow when shooting your bow that you should observe to keep you and others safe. If you are in a group with multiple archers, make sure that you are all firing at the same time and aiming as well as loading. If you are on a range with a group, you might have a leader that directs your firing with a series of whistles. Be sure to follow all instructions here, as well.
The same system should be used when it is time to retrieve arrows. This is to ensure that nobody is firing when you are trying to retrieve arrows. Everyone in the group should be firing and retrieving at the same time. Failure to do this puts you in a very dangerous position, as you could be down range while others are firing dangerous projectiles in your direction.
While your safety equipment and gear is undoubtedly important, it’s also important to follow these basic safety procedures to ensure you are acting properly when you’re at the archery range.
Safety Equipment to Use While Shooting
The final thing to know about safety during archery sessions is what equipment you should be wearing. There are a few essentials that you should have as well as some pieces of equipment that might be considered optional by some. Either way, it’s a good idea to know all of your options so that you can decide for yourself and enable yourself to protect yourself while participating in archer. Getting the right equipment for this activity is the absolute first thing that you should do when it comes to archery safety.
Archery Arm Guard
An arm guard is the first piece of equipment to consider. This is the piece of equipment that covers the inside of your arm. The need for this is because of the distinct chance that the bowstring catches the inside part of your arm, which is left exposed when you release the bowstring. Bowstrings might seem harmless from afar, but anyone who has shot a bow knows that’s not the case. There is a ton of tension on these strings when pulled back and if they hit your skin, they can easily break the skin, make you bleed, or give you a rash or bruise.
Bowstrings are not things to take lightly. They cause injuries all the time when improperly released or when you don’t use a bracer. This can cause immense pain and discomfort. To add salt to the wound, you could also miss your target when the string catches your arm.
Some archers will say that wearing clothing is enough when you are shooting, but there are certain drawbacks to that. When you are wearing clothing, it can oftentimes get in the way of what you are trying to do and make you less accurate, more overheated, uncomfortable, etc. There are many ways that wearing clothing that covers your arm can get in the way when you are trying to practice archery or compete.
A better solution is to simply use an arm guard. This garment is also known as a bracer and will protect your arm from the bowstring while also keeping you cool and comfortable and not getting in the way of your shot. It will improve your accuracy, comfort, and most importantly, keep you safe.
Archery Finger Tab
One of the most repetitive actions in archery is having to pull the bowstring back and hold it with your fingers. The first couple times that you do this might not be painful or uncomfortable, but as you do it more and more, it will begin to wear down the skin. As we discussed earlier, strings use a lot of tension and that creates a lot of stress that you are putting on your fingers. This stress can bruise your fingers and make it very painful to draw back the string again and again.
While some would say that gloves work well to protect your fingers, most archers will tell you that finger tabs are the best solution. Finger tabs provide the best of both worlds. They protect your fingers from the harsh string and repetitive draws while also keeping your hand cool and comfortable. With a glove, you’ll notice that your palms begin to perspire very quickly and it becomes hard to use the bow comfortably. With finger tabs, your hand can breathe while your fingers are protected and you can stay at the top of your game.
Finger tabs are considered to be essential gear no matter what. You will find that it’s impossible to shoot without pain if you don’t use them and you will have constant bruising on your fingers. After only a couple of draws, you’ll start to feel lucky that you followed proper safety advice and got finger tabs to protect your hands.
Archer's Thumb Ring
While much attention is paid attention the the index and middle fingers, your thumb goes through the very same stress as you grab the string and pull it back with all of your might. So, it goes without saying that you are going to need a way to protect your thumb from this extreme amount of stress just as you do with your fingers. The best way to do this is to get a thumb ring.
A thumb ring is the best piece of equipment that you can get to help keep that thumb safe on the drawback. Thumb rings are made from a variety of different materials. Some common ones are stone/rock, leather, plastic, and composite materials.
One distinction between the thumb ring and the finger tab is that while a finger tab is considered absolutely essential, a thumb ring can be optional. It’s not so much a matter of preference as it is a matter of which type of archery you participate in. While some types of archery lean heavily on your thumb, others do not. You should assess your style of archery before purchasing this equipment.
Archery Chest Guard
When you draw a string back with a lot of tension and then release it suddenly, there are times where it’s going to kick back and reverberate towards your chest. For these events, there is gear that is designed to protect you. It is called a chest guard and it’s a very important piece of equipment because it protects a vulnerable part of your body with a lot of important organs.
In addition to protection, a chest guard actually helps to make you more accurate because it is a better alternative to wearing nothing but regular clothing. When you wear clothing, it can rub up against the bow and make your shot inaccurate. A chest guard keeps all of your clothing very close to the body instead and reduces the chances of your clothes interfering with your shot.
Chest guards are considered essential to protect yourself and get accurate shots off.
Tree Stand Harness
The final piece of protective gear that you should be using is a safety harness. A safety harness is used in situations where you don’t have the luxury of shooting from an area of level ground. This piece of equipment is mostly used when you are hunting and have to climb a tree or deer stand and shoot from an elevated position. While this is the ideal hunting position, it also introduces a new risk factor into your archery activities. If you lose balance and fall, you can severely injure yourself.
A great way to prevent this from happening is to use a tree stand harness. A safety harness can help keep you in the tree in the event that you fall from it and prevent you from hitting the ground. A harness can’t stop you from losing your footing, but it can save your life in the event that it does happen. This should be considered absolutely essential equipment if you are going to be shooting from a tree or other high up position.
While archery is often a fun activity, your first priority should always be safety. Be sure to practice common safety methods when you are shooting and also use the proper gear and apparel. If you do both of these things, you will be putting yourself in the best situation possible to be safe and enjoy your archery-related activities.
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